Monday, August 3, 2009
Rebecca Gratz & Charles Dickens. Part 1
In early 1842, Charles Dickens visited the United States where he traveled extensively. Before the end of the year he had published his reflections in American Notes for General Circulation.
In November of 1842 Rebecca recorded her reactions to his new book. She began with a general comment about the many English writers who had visited America and written about it -- usually in a manner highly critical of the new nation, despite the hospitality which their admiring hosts had bestowed upon them. "It is a pity," she wrote, that they should come at all since "it is the breaking up of friendship to make their acquaintance."
As for Dickens' views, she comments, "I do not think his Southern friends will relish his strictures on the vexed question of slavery any more than the Editors & book sellers do of the press....Taken the whole I do not see any ill spirit in his notes, some pages are very good, some very amusing and some very true which we might wish otherwise." But she adds, "If he has gleaned nothing more to embellish future tales, his visit to America will not add much to his literary reputation." (Dickens did draw on his American travels for his next novel Martin Chuzzlewit.)
To read "Rebecca Gratz & Charles Dickens. Part 2" click here.
(This post uses material from Rebecca Gratz's letter to her niece Miriam Cohen, dated November 10, 1842. It is in the Miriam Gratz Moses Cohen Papers, 1824-1864, Collection Number 02639, Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)