Eden Redux

May 14, 2016

In 1842, writer Charles Dickens made the first of two trips to the United States, with St. Louis being the furthest west city he visited. (There is a fanciful “Bonanza” TV episode in which Dickens is represented as having visited the Ponderosa and joking with Hoss.)  He and his wife traveled down the Ohio River then up the Mississippi.

Along the voyage, Dickens stopped at Cairo, Illinois and visited The Looking Glass Prairie thirteen miles inland. He found Cairo and environs to be swampy, mosquito infested, humid and depressing.

Upon his return to England, Dickens wrote an excoriating book, “American Notes,” in which he lambasted the American character as boastful, vain, dirty and meretricious, tobacco spitting, whisky swilling and all-around cunning in an evil sort of way. (This was fueled in part by his rage at American publishers outright stealing his serialized novels for newspapers.)

Dickens’ next novel was “Martin Chuzzlewit.” A young made man of the English aristocracy disappoints his greedy grandfather and is exiled to vile New York, where Martin (like his literary counterpart Candide) is fleeced every which way. He uses the last of his money to purchase land in “Eden,” a land development a thousand miles west, only to find that his property is a disease-ridden swamp. In other words, “Eden” is Cairo, Illinois.

America went nuts—in a bad way. Dickens was denounced, his books were burned, his personal wealth was depleted, and he became extremely depressed. And he made his second journey to St. Louis, this time genuinely impressed by the changes in the counrty.

All this I write to suggest that one Donald J. Trump is a character out of Dickens; a braggart, misogynist, cunning, conning, satire of a real person. Dickens liked villainous names; in the case of “Martin Chuzzlewit,” if was Seth Pecksniff. Tom Pinch is the hapless man of good moral character.

Let us give Trump a name he deserves: Donald J. Harrumph, Donald Conniver, Donald Ladyskirt, Trump Triumph Baldman, Rumptrump Racebaiter—you get the idea. And you can play along.

Make no mistake: Trump is a satire of a businessman, a caricature of capitalism, a bloviating miscreant—and most of all, completely aware and in control of, his theatrics. Millions of disenfranchised white people are string puppets dancing to the Donald. And they will win—if you do not vote.

It is one thing to smile at villainy Dickens-style. Villainy in a book is “fun-fun-fun till Daddy takes the T-Bird away.” Seth Pecksniff is a hoot. Donald Trump is a miserable, jactating, sumbitch excuse for a human being, and he wants to shove his will up our collective asses.

“His high spiced wares were made to sell, and they sold; and his thousands of readers could as rationally charge their delight in filth upon him, as a glutton can shift upon his cook the responsibility of his beastly excess.”  “Martin Chuzzlewit”

Thus endeth the lesson.




About Eugene Jones Baldwin

I am a writer: non-fiction, fiction, journalism (Alton Telegraph), essays (The Genehouse Chronicles) and have a website: eugenebaldwin.com. I've published a couple dozen short stories and had eleven plays produced. Current projects: "Brother of the Stones" (available on Kindle), a book of short stories; "The Faithful Husband of the Rain, short stories"; "A Black Soldier's Letters Home, WWII,;" "There is No Color in Justice," a commentary on racism; "Ratkillers," a new play. I am an avocational archaeologist and I take parts of my collection of several thousand Indian artifacts (personal finds) to schools, nature centers, libraries etc. and talk about the 20,000 year history of The First people in Illinois. (See link to website) I'm also a playwright (eleven plays produced), musician, historian (authority on the Underground Railroad in Illinois, the Tuskegee Airmen) and teacher.
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