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The Uncommercial Traveller

Charles Dickens

Book Overview: 

The Uncommercial Traveller is a collection of literary sketches and reminiscences written by Charles Dickens. He seems to have chosen the title and persona of the Uncommercial Traveller as a result of a speech he gave to the Commercial Travellers' School London in his role as honorary chairman and treasurer. The persona sits well with a writer who liked to travel, not only as a tourist, but also to research and report what he found; visiting Europe, America and giving book readings throughout Britain. He does not seem content to rest late in his career when he had attained wealth and comfort and continued travelling locally, walking the streets of London in the mould of the flâneur, a 'gentleman stroller of city streets'. He often suffered from insomnia and his night-time wanderings gave him an insight into some of the hidden aspects of Victorian London, details of which he also incorporated into his novels. (Summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .I had got back again to that rich and beautiful port where I had looked after Mercantile Jack, and I was walking up a hill there, on a wild March morning.  My conversation with my official friend Pangloss, by whom I was accidentally accompanied, took this direction as we took the up-hill direction, because the object of my uncommercial journey was to see some discharged soldiers who had recently come home from India.  There were men of HAVELOCK’s among them; there were men who had been in many of the great battles of the great Indian campaign, among them; and I was curious to note what our discharged soldiers looked like, when they were done with.

I was not the less interested (as I mentioned to my official friend Pangloss) because these men had claimed to be discharged, when their right to be discharged was not admitted.  They had behaved with unblemished fidelity and bravery; but, a change of circumstances had arisen, which, as they considere. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is a series of magazine articles, I assume, as they are short pieces and he specialized in that form. They purport to be his reminiscences on minor events he has seen while traveling, although their veracity is impossible to confirm. They tend toward his usual themes, poverty, the suffering...more

Delightful--and pertinent a century and a half later. Who knew the Victorians ate so well, even in an abandoned Inn (the Railroad had circumvented this old coach-house): "The stopperless cruets on the spindle-shanked sideboard were in a miserably dejected state: the anchovy sauce having turned bl...more

A compilation of magazine articles from the last decade or so of Dickens' life. Some magnificent descriptions of the London of its day - in all its horror; there's no way the 1860s could ever be described as 'swinging.' Some of the material here is too much 'of its time' to be easily penetrable t...more

"Reprinted Pieces" was the better of two uninspiring volumes, because it included some fiction. The non-fiction was, for the most part, dull and/or overwrought.

A rather odd eclectic set of short stories based on a travellers experience. Based in Dickens' other novels, I expected a lot more from this. In many parts rather disjointed. Some works though, very vivid. His description of the Lead Mills, rather similar to stories by H G Wells, such as 'The Von...more

Something of a slog. Journalism doesn't always age well, even when it's by one of the greats. Many of the stories in the Reprinted Pieces are a treat, though. If I really include the "date started" to "date finished" range I think it would be more than a decade.

I don't think Dickens's non-fiction ages as well as his fiction. I enjoyed this, but a lot if it went over my head and wasn't completely engaging.

Another grand work of Dickens's. This time a collection of separately published pieces formed as part of his own journal "All the Year Round". The character of the Uncommercial Traveller takes readers along a journey from Great Britain, through Europe and to America. As ever, the tone is delicate...more

The 37 pieces in this book were written in the 1860s, published in a weekly magazine/journal that Dickens ran, and later collected and printed in book form. They range fairly widely in theme and tone, but as Daniel Tyler argues in his introduction to the edition I read, they can be seen to make u...more

Review Title: Fiction or journalism?

In the second half of his short brilliant career Dickens returned to the short sketch style that made his first fame in the literary world as "Boz". The 37 pieces here were written in three separate periods—1860, 1863, 1868/69—when his personal and professional...more

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