POOR MISS FINCH by Wilkie Collins

POOR MISS FINCH by Wilkie Collins

01 October 2011

Martin Chuzzlewit 10 (Oct 1843) chaps 24-26

Dear Serial Readers,

Another transatlantic crossing eastward with this number--back to the English Eden! Pecksniff's obsequious comments about gardening as "an ancient pursuit" took me back to the American Eden where any cultivation (land and manners) seems an impossible enterprise. That said, what are we to make of Pecksniffian cultivation, "ancient" as it is? And then we have the unfortunate newlyweds, the Jonas Chuzzlewits, with the unmerry married Merry at the end of the installment who arrives at her new "HOME" (last words of the installment and the exact textual MIDPOINT of the serial), which is already "a wicked house."

So Dickens seems to suggest that all is not so rosy in the English Eden either. Yet with such a large cast of characters, in contrast to the smaller American group (who might only appear once or twice), we also get some lovely and amusing types from the lower echelons of English society--Sairey Gamp, Poll Sweedlepipe who perhaps balance out the more obnoxious Pecksniff, Jonas C, and the insufferable scheming Tigg/Montague. We get rising characters too--Tom Pinch becomes more interesting with his attention to Mary--maybe moving somewhere, and Martin's rehabilitation via his American ordeal is on the horizon.

Next time, #11 chaps. 27-29. Which Eden, I wonder?

Serially scenic,