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American Notes

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In 1842, Charles Dickens visited America. His reception was somewhat colder than that which usually greeted him – already a successful author in both Britain and the U.S. This lack of enthusiasm from the Americans was partly due to his criticism of the pirating of English books in that country and partly due to his outspoken distaste for the custom of slavery in the southern states.

He wrote in the preface to American Notes, "Prejudiced I am not, and never have been, otherwise than in favour of the United States. I have many friends in America. I feel a grateful interest in the country. I hope and believe it will successfully work out a problem of the highest importance in the whole human race. To represent me as viewing America with ill nature, coldness or animosity is merely to do a very foolish thing, which is always a very easy one!"

Despite this placatory tone, one American reviewer spoke thus of American Notes: "The most trashy... the most contemptible... the essence of balderdash, reduced to the last drop of silliness and inanity."

Listen to the journals and judge for yourself.

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