"American Notes" is Dickens' account of his travels through America in 1842. This book was much vilified in the USA after its publication, on account of Dickens' fervent condemnation of the institution of slavery which was, of course, still practised in the US at that time. This is only a short book, but gives a fascinating snapshot of a world that's now disappeared - for example, his account of Broadway, in New York, swarming with pigs, eating all the garbage, and journeys by steamboat. There are some extremely funny passages in the book, such the following description of Dickens' first experience of travel on an American train:
It was a fine evening when we were passengers in the train: and watching the bright sunset from a little window near the door by which we sat, my attention was attracted to a remarkable appearance issuing from the windows of the gentleman's car immediately in front of us, which I supposed for some time was occasioned by a number of industrious persons inside, ripping open feather-beds, and giving the feathers to the wind. At length it occurred to me that they were only spitting, which was indeed the case; though how any number of passengers which it was possible for that car to contain, could have maintained such a playful and incessant shower of expectoration, I am still at a loss to understand: notwithstanding the experience in all salivatory phenomena which I afterwards acquired.
Well worth reading.
EDIT: 9th Dec 2007.
Reformatted and improved layout. Uploaded v2.
EDIT: 15 Mar 08
Significantly improved the book, preserving the original paragraph breaks and adding the two original illustrations. Uploaded v3.
EDIT: 17 Feb 10
Thoroughly proof-read the book against the "Oxford Illustrated Dickens". Added a missing illustration; fixed numerous minor errors, and made a number of small formatting changes. Uploaded v4.
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