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Little Dorrit Paperback – March 3, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 285 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“One of the most significant works of the nineteenth century.”—Lionel Trilling

From the Publisher

The classic, definitive, world-famous Nonesuch Press edition of 1937, finally available again and bound in leather and linen. The text in these stunning volumes is taken from the 1867 Chapman and Hall edition, which became known as the Charles Dickens edition and was the last edition to be corrected by the author himself. The Nonesuch edition contains full-color illustrations selected by Dickens himself, by artists including Hablot Knight Browne ("Phiz"), George Cruikshank, John Leech, Robert Seymour, and George Cattermole.

The Nonesuch Dickens reproduces the original elegance of these beautiful editions. Books are printed on natural cream-shade high quality stock, quarter bound in bonded leather with cloth sides, include a ribbon marker, and feature special printed endpapers. Each volume is wrapped in a protective, clear acetate jacket.

The books are available as individual volumes, or as sets. The six-volume set contains Oliver Twist, Bleak House, Christmas Books, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations together with Hard Times. The three-volume set contains A Tale of Two Cities, Little Dorrit, and The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 928 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115878
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (285 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,092,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Penelope Schmitt on July 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is my personal favorite among Dickens novels, fully equal to Bleak House, though not nearly as widely read or admired. Most reviewers miss the fact that debtors prisons had long been closed before Dickens wrote the novel, so 'reform' was in no way its objective. What he really wanted to explore was self-imprisonment. His main character, Arthur Clennam, has been imprisoned by family strictures all his life. Denied love as a child, exiled from his sweetheart as a young man to an outpost of the family business in China, left by his father only with a watch inscribed 'DNF' meaning 'do not forget' (what he doesn't know) Arthur returns to England. We first see him 'imprisoned' in quarantine with others who suffer spiritual incarcerations of their own. The spiritual heart of this novel is the story of how Arthur loses hope that he can 'go home again' and pick up with his old life, how he reconstructs a personal life and satisfying work, and how he endures the collapse of the past and all its guilty debts, ultimately being set free to live life on a new foundation. This novel will hearten those who have arrived in the middle of our lives feeling that like Arthur, we stand among ruins, 'descending a green and growing tree' whose limbs die and wither under us as we come down. But when he is finally stripped of everything, Arthur gains all. While this great bildungsroman of maturity is being carried forward, Dickens offers a wealth of characters, plots, and subplots that will keep Dickens lovers turning pages in well-founded faith that Boz will once again knit all together in a satisfying tapestry of incident and meaning. It could be summed up as "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I truly don't understand why this novel is not more widely read or discussed. Thanks to the BBC dramatization, it has been saved from obscurity. Even though the television adaptation is quite good, it is no substitute for reading the full text of the book. I would disagree with those who say this was not one of the author's best novels; on the contrary, I feel it is one of his very best. Dickens wrote so many great books of which I am a fan. Among my favorites are: Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield. Of all these masterpieces, Little Dorrit is my absolute favorite. I heard somewhere that Shaw felt Little Dorrit was Dickens's best work. Who am I to argue with Shaw? I believe many critics and those who study Dickens would agree. Ironically, the work was wildly popular during Dickens own life when it was published in serial form. In fact, that is the best way to read the novel...in small portions. You will choke to death if you try and consume it in one bite. This novel is too big and rich to devour quickly. I had a difficult time getting into the book after the initial few chapters but was richly rewarded as I continued on. This is not a book for lightweights. The length of the book is quite intimidating, the plot is complex, and the characters numerous; that being said, it is well worth the effort to read. I could not put it down as I came to the last few hundred pages. I absolutely loved it by the time I finished the book. It is one of Dickens's darker novels, which may put some off. Even so, many, if not most, of Dickens novels deal with unpleasant topics, and there is quite a bit of humor (Flora, her aunt, Afferty...) in Little Dorrit to balance the darkness. In fact the book is full of balance - wonderful Dickens prose, masterful characterization, as well as one the best plots ever devised. As others have said so well, this novel stands up to multiple readings. I certainly plan to reread and savor it many times.
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Format: Paperback
This is a long book - it feels like a 1000 pages - but it is a masterpiece. Dickens takes us from Marseilles, home to an evil man whose smile makes his moustache disappear under his top lip and draws us into a dark, damp, murky Victorian London where one's whole future existence seems to be mapped out at birth, and where to escape from one's perceived 'destiny' is both sacriligeous and impossible. The Marshalsea Prison is a place all of us can visualise - a debtors prison from which many fail to escape, the dubious honour of the Father of the Marshalsea bestowed on the longest-serving inmate. Little Dorrit - Amy - is the daughter of the Father of the Marshalsea and this is her tale, one which stretches across the grime of smoggy nineteenth century London to the pollution of Continental Europe. The cast of characters is fascinating and Dickens rarely misses a trick - each is easily comparable to people any of us knows today. I studied this book at school and I have read it four or five times since.
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Format: Paperback
Among the reasons to come to earth must surely be the chance to read this novel. Shaw called this novel a masterpiece among masterpieces. My opinion is that this novel is the greatest of the sixteen. It is less bland than Bleak House, more poignant than Copperfield. I started it desultorily, distracted greatly by events in my life. But gradually as I read it dawned on me that sentence by sentence Dickens was here at his most trenchant. I began to be charmed by the characters, some of the greatest in his oeuvre. For all the darkness in the conception--a girl born and raised in debtor's prison--Little Dorrit is a wonderful character. Arthur Clennam is a real man. I adore Flora's deranged speech and her tenderness. Fanny is a delight! And there are Doyce and Pancks--and the Meagles and Pet and Tattycoram--and there are so many secrets! And isn't Blandois the precursor of Fosco? Oh, I could go on. To the Circumlocution Office and Barnacles and Merdle - and Afferty and Flintwich and Mrs. Clennam--such a wonderful feast of characters--with the Marshallsea hovering over all.

How well Dickens uses dialogue to identify character; how amusing are their tics. The characters fall into strata. The main of them, characterized by Clennam, Doyce, and Pancks, are at the level of small businessmen, tradesmen. Below them are the destitutes. A little above them are Mrs. Clennam, Casby, the Meagles. And high above them the Merdles, Gowans, and the like. The novel finds its way at the lower levels--it's a novel of the lower middle class and the lower class and the poor--and down there is so much life and love and devotion. It was strong medicine for me, cognitively dissonant, for Little Dorrit to love with such devotion. And Clennam loves her so deeply though he had no love in his life to that point.
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