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"It tripped my social conscience and infected me for the rest of my life" -- Jon Snow "I would always prefer to go get another Dickens off the shelf than pick up a new book by someone I've not read yet" -- Donna Tartt "He's a marvellous writer...He's very, very good" -- William Trevor "There is no one Dickens novel I could pick over all the others. Dickens is huge-like the sky. Pick any page of Dickens and it's immediately recognizable as him, yet he might be doing social satire, or farce, or horror, or a psychological study of a murderer-or any combination of these" -- Susannah Clarke "In Little Dorrit, Dickens attacked English institutions with a ferocity that has never since been approached" -- George Orwell
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 book was so good I wasn't ready to let it go. In fact after reading it I then went and picked up the audio book and listened to it, and I'm still letting it play through for the second time around. I don't want to let these characters go.
Arthur is this genuine, sweet, good hearted soul who just wants to do the right things. Little Dorrit is a sweet girl who does her best for her family. Fanny Dorrit is living the best life she knows how given a disposition that has become a bit bitter. William Dorrit is a mixture of pompous conceit and fragile pathetic character. Pancks is the guy who gets stuck doing the dirty work of another and still turns out to be a good person. Poor Flora is this utterly silly woman who you can tell from her character has a lot of feeling but has little ability to express those feelings without seeming ridiculous-- there's at least one person in everyone's past who has made them come off a little ridiculous, isn't there?
There are so very many characters I can't give you a sketch of all of them, but I can say that many of them are likable, all of them are relatable in one fashion or another.
I can't say the story is exactly believable. Of course there certainly were debtor's prisons, and very likely Dickens would know more about them than I would, that's not the part I find hard to believe. It's the rich dead uncle that rescued them all that is about as far fetched as the fairy tales of poor young women being found and married to a prince. Still it was an amazingly enjoyable tale and I will have to move on eventually, but not tonight. Tonight I'll immerse myself in this story and let it play on and on.
All of Dickens' novels display a darker side to some degree or another as he explores the social ills of Victorian England, but none are so unremittingly dark as Little Dorrit. Much of the action in Little Dorrit takes place in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. The heroine resides there at the beginning of the novel, and the novel's hero later is consigned to the prison up to the penultimate chapter. The deus ex machina conclusion almost seems tacked on as an anticlimactic ending just so that Dickens can leave his readers with a happy ending despite all of the misery they had endured before.
Dickens had a keen sense of social justice, and his target in this novel is the pervasive poverty in England and the debtors' prisons to which the impoverished were consigned, some through no fault of their own other than making bad investment decisions, and others who voluntarily take up cells in debtors' prisons so that they may care for family members confined there. Debtors' prisons loom large over Victorian English culture and exert a baleful influence.
At just over 800 pages, this is one of Dickens' longer novels, and the florid, ornate, and stilted writing so characteristic of Victorian writing is on full display here. No doubt Dickens was attempting to make his characters and settings as vivid as possible, and in this regard he is extremely successful. In none of the other Dickens novels I have read thus far are the characters, both major and minor, so thoroughly depicted and realized as lifelike figures.
In this work, for the first time, I see Dickens plunge into the psychology of his characters, and his characters "psychologize" other characters in order to understand them better. To be fair, Dickens cannot be faulted for the highly formal manner in which people, especially members of the opposite sex, spoke to each other in Victorian times; he successfully captures the styles of speech from differing classes. He amusingly depicts the linguistic oddities of his characters in order to make them more unique.
Dickens also lovingly and thoroughly brings the settings to life as well. Settings themselves are clues to the meanings and intentions of the novel. Although the Marshalsea debtors' prison had fallen into ruins by the time Dickens wrote of it, he still very well captures its oppressive atmosphere.
Some readers may find the excessive filigreeing of detail to their liking. Personally, I would have taken an editor's red pen and ruthlessly cut lines from this text. A single descriptor works very well; Dickens' mastery of creative prose permits a single phrase to bring a character or setting into sharp relief. The second or even third rhetorical flourish becomes overbearing, for this reader, anyway.
For the devotee of the Victorian novel, however, one who appreciates the extensive degree of filigree work which, admittedly, is impressive, this novel is highly recommended. Some students of the Victorian novel consider this text to be Dickens' finest work, an accolade I do not believe is misplaced.
“He never thought that she saw in him what no one else could see. He never thought that in the whole world there were no other eyes that looked upon him with the same light and strength as hers.”
I have been told this is the closest to an autobiographical novel that Dickens ever wrote. I have also been told this is one of his funniest novels. While I did enjoy its darkish humor, I think of this book as a love story of two people that thought the other was out of their reach. I am happy to tell you this has a successful conclusion but it is a long time coming.
This is the story of Amy Dorrit known as Little Dorrit who was born and lived in debtor’s prison with her father and brother and sister. Her mother was dead. It is also the story of Arthur Clennam who is fascinated by Little Dorrit and seeks to help her in any way he can. There is a huge cast of characters and a storyline that encompasses most of the world before returning to debtor’s prison to end the tale.
The many plots of this tale evolve around a con man, a simple man who becomes rich after spending most of his life behind bars, an honest man who is conned and ends up in debtor’s prison because he will not do a dishonorable thing to save his life. A mother who keeps secrets and feels guilt.
I have never read this book before and I have read most of Dickens works. He is one of my favorite authors and does not disappoint here either. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can recommend it.