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Little Dorrit

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A novel of serendipity, of fortunes won and lost, and of the spectre of imprisonment that hangs over all aspects of Victorian society, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit is edited with an introduction by Stephen Wall in Penguin Classics. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother's seamstress, and in the A novel of serendipity, of fortunes won and lost, and of the spectre of imprisonment that hangs over all aspects of Victorian society, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit is edited with an introduction by Stephen Wall in Penguin Classics. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother's seamstress, and in the affairs of Amy's father, William Dorrit, a man of shabby grandeur, long imprisoned for debt in Marshalsea prison. As Arthur soon discovers, the dark shadow of the prison stretches far beyond its walls to affect the lives of many, from the kindly Mr Panks, the reluctant rent-collector of Bleeding Heart Yard, and the tipsily garrulous Flora Finching, to Merdle, an unscrupulous financier, and the bureaucratic Barnacles in the Circumlocution Office. A masterly evocation of the state and psychology of imprisonment, Little Dorrit is one of the supreme works of Dickens's maturity. Stephen Wall's introduction examines Dickens's transformation of childhood memories of his father's incarceration in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. This revised edition includes expanded notes, appendices and suggestion for further reading by Helen Small, a chronology of Dickens's life and works, and original illustrations. Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions. If you enjoyed Little Dorrit, you might like Dickens's Barnaby Rudge, also available in Penguin Classics.

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A novel of serendipity, of fortunes won and lost, and of the spectre of imprisonment that hangs over all aspects of Victorian society, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit is edited with an introduction by Stephen Wall in Penguin Classics. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother's seamstress, and in the A novel of serendipity, of fortunes won and lost, and of the spectre of imprisonment that hangs over all aspects of Victorian society, Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit is edited with an introduction by Stephen Wall in Penguin Classics. When Arthur Clennam returns to England after many years abroad, he takes a kindly interest in Amy Dorrit, his mother's seamstress, and in the affairs of Amy's father, William Dorrit, a man of shabby grandeur, long imprisoned for debt in Marshalsea prison. As Arthur soon discovers, the dark shadow of the prison stretches far beyond its walls to affect the lives of many, from the kindly Mr Panks, the reluctant rent-collector of Bleeding Heart Yard, and the tipsily garrulous Flora Finching, to Merdle, an unscrupulous financier, and the bureaucratic Barnacles in the Circumlocution Office. A masterly evocation of the state and psychology of imprisonment, Little Dorrit is one of the supreme works of Dickens's maturity. Stephen Wall's introduction examines Dickens's transformation of childhood memories of his father's incarceration in the Marshalsea debtors' prison. This revised edition includes expanded notes, appendices and suggestion for further reading by Helen Small, a chronology of Dickens's life and works, and original illustrations. Charles Dickens is one of the best-loved novelists in the English language, whose 200th anniversary was celebrated in 2012. His most famous books, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and The Pickwick Papers, have been adapted for stage and screen and read by millions. If you enjoyed Little Dorrit, you might like Dickens's Barnaby Rudge, also available in Penguin Classics.

30 review for Little Dorrit

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    Little Dorrit is Charles Dickens’s eleventh novel, published in monthly parts between December 1855 and June 1857, and illustrated by his favourite artist and friend Hablot Knight Browne, or “Phiz”. We tend to give Dickens’s novels convenient labels, such as the one criticising the workhouse: “Oliver Twist”, the one criticising schools: “Nicholas Nickleby”, the one criticising the legal system: “Bleak House”, and the one criticising unions: “Hard Times”. This one could be thought of as “the one Little Dorrit is Charles Dickens’s eleventh novel, published in monthly parts between December 1855 and June 1857, and illustrated by his favourite artist and friend Hablot Knight Browne, or “Phiz”. We tend to give Dickens’s novels convenient labels, such as the one criticising the workhouse: “Oliver Twist”, the one criticising schools: “Nicholas Nickleby”, the one criticising the legal system: “Bleak House”, and the one criticising unions: “Hard Times”. This one could be thought of as “the one criticising government bureaucracy”. But it is much, much more than that. By now Dickens had established himself as a literary phenomenon. He was an enormously popular novelist, but he was keen to sustain his literary status as well as entertain the crowds. Like “Bleak House”, this is an elaborate, very complex and occasionally creaky novel with many interwoven and seemingly inexplicable mysteries. In this, it seems more of a natural successor to “Bleak House”, rather than to the much shorter and more direct one which preceded it, “Hard Times” (although the vitriol of “Hard Times” is in evidence here too). Although Little Dorrit is set in about 1826, it was written only a few years after the great Crystal Palace Exhibition “of the Works of Industry of All Nations” in 1851. It is interesting to wonder whether this vicious attack on British institutions is in part a commentary by Dickens on Britain’s grand industrial and social advances. Dickens was continuing to work at a frenetic pace — to “burn himself out” in the modern vernacular — and his personal life was equally frenzied. In these two years, he bought two new houses, including his dream house “Gads Hill” in Rochester, which he had admired since he was a boy. He lived in Folkestone, Paris, Boulogne and London, as well as travelling for speeches and business. He continued to write, edit, and give public readings, be involved in the lives of his children, and was as enthusiastic about the theatre as ever. He produced and acted in 6 plays and farces during this time, helped by his friend Wilkie Collins, although Dickens was very much the driving force behind them. And his letters reveal that he was approaching a domestic crisis, and increasingly frustrated with his marriage. He was preoccupied by the idea of freedom in all areas; freedom assumed a greater and greater importance to him, and he was increasingly impatient with the Victorian constraints of his time. Little Dorrit is the novel which comes out of this state of mind. The themes of prisons and being trapped in various ways, both physically and psychologically, permeate throughout the book. Dickens certainly felt himself trapped, whatever others thought. He also felt a long-buried shame at his father’s incarceration in the “Marshalsea” Prison for debt. This is perhaps the novel most influenced by Charles Dickens’s early experience, and a sense of gross injustice prevails too. In fact the original title of the novel, for the first four issues, was not Little Dorrit but “Nobody’s Fault”. The Marshalsea Prison was a notorious prison in Southwark, Surrey (although Southwark is now part of London), just south of the River Thames. It was one of London’s best known debtors’ prisons, and one with which Dickens was well acquainted. Of course, the irony was that the only way for those incarcerated to survive there, was by purchasing items to keep themselves fed and clothed. Getting out was well nigh impossible, as being incarcerated, they could rarely earn any money! It was very much like a village behind bars, and although it was 30 years since his father had been imprisoned there (and the prison had been closed down in 1842), Dickens had never returned to look at it. Only when he came to write Little Dorrit, did Dickens nerve himself to visit the parts of it which were still standing. He notes in his preface, that this was in order to research the “rooms that arose to my mind’s eye when I became Little Dorrit’s biographer.” Yet Amy Dorrit (“Little Dorrit”) is not the main character in the book. If there is just one, it would be Arthur Clennam. Dickens may well have decided to name his novel after Amy, since she is one of the very few virtuous unaffected characters, always seeking opportunities for each of her family, and through sheer determination, working towards the best life they can all have. She may be small in stature, but her heart and courage are great indeed. Amy was born in the “Marshalsea” Prison, surrounded by a family who all display the faults which can result from such a meanness of environment. Her father, William, is so pompous, so quick to take offence, and so socially conscious, that having the unofficial title “Father of the Marshalsea” conferred on him, is seen by him as a great honour. He is arrogant, selfish, and “all show”, continually bolstered up by Amy’s coquettish and patronising sister Fanny, a theatrical dancer, and her brother Tip, a roguish ne’er-do-well. William’s brother Frederick, a broken man, has been up to now, Amy’s only true friend. We also follow the story of Arthur Clennam. On his father’s death, Arthur has returned from business abroad, and is at a loose end. Arthur’s mother is a grim, old puritanical woman, who is paralysed, and living in the gloomy, decrepit old family house. She is attended by Flintwinch, a malicious man, twisted in both body and mind, who has wheedled himself into being her business partner, and forced the family servant, Affery, to marry him. These three form a unholy trio. The scenes set here have a gothic unearthly quality, and Affery, with her terrified nonsensical babbling, comes across as some kind of wise seer. There is hatred and malevolence here; a deep-seated resentment, but we are not privy to its cause, and neither is Arthur. There are myriad minor characters who make this novel sparkle, although it is a sinister sparkle, perhaps as in sparkly vampires. There is the avaricious Casby, with his flowing white hair and twinkly eyes, with a semblance of benevolence shining out of his bald head. There is his whipping-boy and rent-collector Pancks, a little chugging steam engine, busily screwing more and more money out of Casby’s tenants. There is Casby’s daughter, the widow Flora Finching, fat, flirtatious and foolish. Twittery, chattery Flora used to be Arthur’s sweetheart (a fact which now appalls him) and is determined that he will never forget that fact, much to Arthur’s embarrassment and chagrin. She now looks after an equally eccentic and hilariously impossible relative, “Mr F.’s aunt”. Flora’s character is based on Maria Beadnell (later Mrs Henry Winter), with whom Charles Dickens had fallen madly in love, in 1830, when he was 18. Maria, like Flora, was pretty and flirtatious, and the daughter of a highly successful banker (similar enough to a property-owner). After three years, her parents objected to the relationship, because Dickens’s prospects did not look good. Dickens wrote to her, “I never have loved and I never can love any human creature breathing but yourself.” And it is clear from his letters to his friend, John Forster, that Dickens had felt completely heartbroken over the break-up. He met Maria, now Mrs Winter, again in 1856, and although he knew she was a great fan of her work, he was devastated at how she had changed, although she had tried to warn him, describing herself candidly in a letter as being “toothless, fat, old and ugly”. Dickens found her talkativeness especially irritating, and quickly attempted to extricate himself from all but the most essential social contact with her — and always strictly in public. Dickens it now was, who rebuffed Maria’s flirtatious attempts, and he portrayed her here as the voluble and irrepressible Flora. Perhaps an old affection did temper his pen, however. Although it seems a cruel, heartless portrait initially, Flora reveals herself to have a heart of gold, and hidden perceptiveness, as the novel proceeds. These characters who are so vociferous often prove to be the most multi-layered in Dickens’s novels. The silent ones are often more shadowy. But Flora is an appalling delight, and some scenes which feature her may well make you laugh out loud: “Wanting the heart to explain that this was not at all what he meant, Arthur extended his supporting arm round Flora’s figure. ‘Oh my goodness me,’ said she. ‘You are very obedient indeed really and it’s extremely honourable and gentlemanly in you I am sure but still at the same time if you would like to be a little tighter than that I shouldn’t consider it intruding’”. There is Mr Merdle, the financier and greatest man of his time: “As a vast fire will fill the air to a great distance with its roar, so the sacred flame which the mighty Barnacles had fanned caused the air to resound more and more with the name of Merdle. It was deposited on every lip, and carried into every ear. There never was, there never had been, there never again should be, such a man as Mr Merdle. Nobody, as aforesaid, knew what he had done; but everybody knew him to be the greatest that had appeared.” Dickens builds Mr Merdle up so much that we are tempted to suspect that everything might come crashing down! In fact Mr Merdle is based on a real life Irish financier and politician, called John Sadleir, (view spoiler)[a “prince of swindlers”. John Sadleir had resigned his ministerial position, when he was found guilty of being implicated in a plot to imprison a depositor of the Tipperary Bank, because the individual in question had refused to vote for him. His disastrous speculations and forgeries had ruined several major banks, to the tune of more than £1.5 million. John Sadleir had ended his life by drinking prussic acid. (hide spoiler)] There is Mr Merdle’s wife, always referred to as “the Bosom”, on which he displays all his jewels and worldly acquisitions. Mrs Merdle piques herself on being society, hypocritically professing herself “charmed” at the idea of being a “perfect savage”. She values her own status, money and etiquette above all else. There is her son from a previous marriage, Edward Sparkler, a chap of limited intelligence, whose highest praise of a woman is that there is “no nonsense about her”. There is young John Chivery, the prison warden’s son, who is devoted to Amy, and has a tendency to keep imagining his own gravestone with appropriate new inscriptions, according to how he feels the wind is blowing with respect to her feelings about him. And the kindly Meagles family: the retired banker Mr Meagles, impossibly convinced that all the world should speak English, his wife, and their cossetted daughter Minnie, or “Pet”. There is Pet’s companion or servant “Tattycoram”, whose real name is Harriet Beadle. Tattycoram/Harriet is an interesting character, who is to play an essential part in the novel’s outcome. She grows greatly in character, but initially has understandable feelings of resentment. She was a foundling, who has ostensibly been adopted by the Meagles. They think they are being benevolent in this, but in fact she feels patronised, instructed to “count five and twenty, Tattycoram” whenever she shows her temper, and is treated more like a servant than a companion. These feelings are encouraged by another malevolent and manipulative presence in the book, Miss Wade, one of Dickens’s most evil creations. We have a veritable panoply of characters then, full of energy and life, spilling from the pages, as always in a novel by Dickens — and there are many more I have not mentioned. And the dastardly villain of the piece? He is a true pantomime villain — “Rigaud”, alias “Blandois” — based on the hated tyrant Napoleon III — and we first meet him right at the start of the novel, in a prison, in Marseilles. For this novel does not start out in the dank gloom of the Marshalsea, but in an oppressive hellhole of a prison in the blistering heat of the South of France. We see Rigaud’s arrogant, evil, manipulative, swaggering personality straightaway, and although Dickens keeps up the mystery by rarely naming him, we can recognise him every time he enters the stage, by his malicious, devilish smile, when: “his moustache went up under his nose, and his nose came down over his moustache”. Mysteries abound in this novel. There are long-lost twins, both male and female, impersonations and doppelgängers, unsuspected marriages and dysfunctional relationships. There is truth, but mostly there are lies, and secrets. There is the collapse of an institution, both metaphorically and in a very dramatic literal scene. It is doom-laden, with delusions and dreams; mysterious creaking sounds are seen to be prophetic. There is a suicide — and a murder — and animal cruelty. It is a novel of two parts, entitled “Poverty” and “Riches”. In the second part, there is restitution of a sort, and there is punishment. Debts are paid. Poverty is transformed into riches, and those who were kind to each other when they were poor, become more spiteful or selfish, considering such earlier behaviour to be humiliating. Starting in Marseilles, the action removes to London and then Venice — a crumbling, decaying edifice, reflected in the degeneration of the characters within it. In Little Dorrit any prosperity is almost a guarantee that the wealth will be put to bad use. Even that decidedly decent fellow Daniel Doyce, intelligent and kind, the inventor of an unspecified mechanical wonder, is unable to get a patent for it in the Circumlocution Office, and we fear for his future. Nothing in Little Dorrit is what it appears to be. In many ways it is as much of a mystery story as “Bleak House”. Almost all the characters are self-seeking, and the message of the novel is a very bleak one indeed. For whereas the concerns of the novel are similar to those of “Dombey and Son”, in Little Dorrit it is not only business concerns which are corrupt. It has a far wider purview — Dickens here attacks the whole of British society. The novel Little Dorrit does not merely indicate a dark view of human nature, but is a savage indictment of the corruption at the heart of British institutions, and the effects of British economic and social structure upon every single individual. Dickens shows with this embittered novel that he believes British society to be rotten to the core, and riddled with deceit. There are only two refuges from the all-pervasive “Circumlocution Office”, either exile, or prison. The very name “Circumlocution Office” is a challenge, and with the monstrous “Barnacle” family, Dickens once more thumbs his nose, by naming the family after a limpet-like marine animal, which lies on its back and attaches itself to anything solid, such as a ship forging ahead and destroying everything in its path. This is another metaphor for that great destroyer of originality, the Circumlocution office. It is a self-serving system of sinecures; a place where all the employees learn “how not to do it”, where all innovation, creativity, individualism and enterprise are efficiently stifled and ultimately quashed. Together with the Stiltstalkings, the Barnacles infest both government and society, going around in circles, spewing red tape, and accomplishing nothing. They ensure that no business which might promote the common good is ever done, crushing both originality and initiative, and rendering all relationships false. This damning satiric representation of the Civil Service draws on Dickens’s view of the recent government’s bad decisions during the Crimean War (which they expected would take 12 weeks, but in fact took twelve months, three major land battles and countless actions resulting in loss of life on a massive scale) coupled with the leftover cynicism from his own days as a young parliamentary reporter. Dickens was well placed to comment on the Civil Service, and his view was savage, waspish — and also very witty. Chapter 10: “Containing the Whole Science of Government” is possibly the funniest thing Dickens ever wrote — and that’s really saying something! The extraordinary achievement of Little Dorrit is that such a devastating and dour indictment of British society and institutions can be so very readable, so topical, yet at the same time so current, in its description of the never-ending wheels grinding on in the Civil Service — and to contain such delightful characters. Dickens’s characters can be recognised in any age; he knew how to write about the familiar types of people we all know. I can see Mrs Merdle with her “Bird, be quiet!”, and the awful spectacle of Mr Dorrit with his airs and graces, posturing, hemming and hawing “hem — hah — ah”. I can see the heart-rending picture of an over-large child, Maggy, Amy’s mentally disabled friend with her “large features, large feet and hands, large eyes and no hair”, devotedly following her diminutive friend Amy round like a little dog, with an inner conviction that if they all go to “’orspital” everything will be all right. I can see timid beaten Affery, worrying about “those two clever ones” always plotting. I can see the appalling “varnishing” of the smooth-tongued Mrs General, employed as a tutor to Fanny and Amy, with her insistence on reciting “Papa, potatoes, poultry, prunes and prism” at every opportunity, in order to keep the lips in the desired pouting positions: “[her] way of forming a mind was to prevent it from forming opinions. She had a little circular set of mental grooves or rails on which she started little trains of other people’s opinions, which never overtook one another, and never got anywhere”. And now I can see the final scene in the book open up before my eyes. The two characters we have been rooting for most, come out of the church of St George the Martyr, in Southwark, and are swallowed up in the roar of the city: “[they pause] for a moment on the steps of the portico looking at the fresh perspective of the street in the autumn morning sun’s bright rays, and then went down. Went down into a modest life of usefulness and happiness ... into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed.” Curiously enough, in the church of St George the Martyr now, Little Dorrit herself is still to be seen. If you approach the altar and look up at the left panel of the magnificent stained glass window behind it, you will see the figure of St George, see that his foot is resting on a piece of parchment. Directly beneath this is a much smaller, kneeling figure of a girl, whose hands are clasped in prayer, and whose poke-bonnet is dangling from her back. This is “Little Dorrit”: Dickens always provides us with neatly tied up endings, in which mostly the evil characters get their just deserts, and our heroes achieve some sort of happiness, or growth. We have that here, but we also have a deep sense of doom, or foreboding. Their destinies lie heavily shrouded in the ether; the fug of the city. George Bernard Shaw considered Little Dorrit to be Dickens’s “masterpiece among many masterpieces”. I cannot think of a more apt description.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stas'

    A forgotten classic, hidden among so many other fine works that Chuck produced. I laughed, I cried and I nearly peed myself because I refused to put the book down. It has been clinically proven that those who find Dickens too maudlin or sentimental are either emotionally stunted or full-on cold hearted sociopaths. Clinically proven. Not suprisingly, Kafka loved this book what with the Circumlocution Office and the strange almost alternate reality of Marshalsea Debtors Prison. If you have never re A forgotten classic, hidden among so many other fine works that Chuck produced. I laughed, I cried and I nearly peed myself because I refused to put the book down. It has been clinically proven that those who find Dickens too maudlin or sentimental are either emotionally stunted or full-on cold hearted sociopaths. Clinically proven. Not suprisingly, Kafka loved this book what with the Circumlocution Office and the strange almost alternate reality of Marshalsea Debtors Prison. If you have never read Dickens, give yourself a good hard slap now and get started. Ah Charles, still the champion of the Big Engrossing Superbly Written Novel.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens Little Dorrit is a novel by Charles Dickens, originally published in serial form between 1855 and 1857. It satirises the shortcomings of both government and society, including the institution of debtors' prisons, where debtors were imprisoned, unable to work, until they repaid their debts. The prison in this case is the Marshalsea, where Dickens's own father had been imprisoned. Dickens is also critical of the lack of a social safety net, the treatment and safety of Little Dorrit, Charles Dickens Little Dorrit is a novel by Charles Dickens, originally published in serial form between 1855 and 1857. It satirises the shortcomings of both government and society, including the institution of debtors' prisons, where debtors were imprisoned, unable to work, until they repaid their debts. The prison in this case is the Marshalsea, where Dickens's own father had been imprisoned. Dickens is also critical of the lack of a social safety net, the treatment and safety of industrial workers, as well the bureaucracy of the British Treasury, in the form of his fictional "Circumlocution Office". In addition he satirises the stratification of society that results from the British class system. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوازدهم ماه نوامبر سال 1974 میلادی عنوان: دوریت کوچک؛ چارلز دیکنز؛ مترجم: محمد قاضی، رضا عقیلی؛ تهران، جاویدان، 1343؛ در 364 ص؛ عنوان: دوریت کوچک؛ چارلز دیکنز؛ مترجم: فریده تیموری؛ تهران، ماد، 1370؛ در دوجلد؛ ص؛ عنوان: دوریت کوچک؛ چارلز دیکنز؛ مترجم: فریده تیموری؛ تهران، سمیر، 1388؛ در727 ص؛ چکیده: موضوع عامیانه این رمان نوشته نویسنده سرشناس انگلیسی (چارلز دیکنز) رفتارهای موجود در ادارات دولتی است که در آنزمان از نظر کندی کار و تنبلی کارکنان مورد اعتراض مردم بوده است. (ویلیام دوریت) در پی عدم اجرای قراردادی که با یکی از ادارات امضا کرده بود به زندان گزمه ها میافتد و آنقدر انجا میماند که به (پدر زندان گزمه ها) ملقب میشود. ایام حبس او با فداکاریهای دختر کوچکش (امی) ملقب به دوریت کوچک تسکین مییابد. (ارتور کلن نم) نیز مردی است که به خانواده دوریت کمک میکند. پس از مدتی امی به او علاقه مند میشود اما این علاقه اوایل دوطرفه نیست. با تغییر ناگهانی سرنوشت، ویلیام دوریت وارث ثروت کلانی میشود و «کلن نم» نیز همان موقع به خاطر سفته های بی اعتبارش به زندان گزمه ها میافتد. این موضوع اتفاقاتی را به دنبال دارد که در ادامه داستان بازگو میشود. ا. شربیانی

  4. 4 out of 5

    B0nnie

    Little Dorrit is a wonderful comic novel. Within these gentle pages are: -a severely brain damaged woman who was beaten and neglected by her alcoholic mother -a bitter old lady who just sits in a room for 15 years -evil twin brothers -an abusive husband who beats and torments his wife -spoiled twin sisters, one who kicks it early and is replaced by a resentful orphan -an innocent man rotting away in prison for years -children who are born and raised in prison -a suicide -a murder -in articulo mortis m Little Dorrit is a wonderful comic novel. Within these gentle pages are: -a severely brain damaged woman who was beaten and neglected by her alcoholic mother -a bitter old lady who just sits in a room for 15 years -evil twin brothers -an abusive husband who beats and torments his wife -spoiled twin sisters, one who kicks it early and is replaced by a resentful orphan -an innocent man rotting away in prison for years -children who are born and raised in prison -a suicide -a murder -in articulo mortis misery -paralysis and stroke -blackmail -a dog beaten to death -a catastrophic collapse of a building -the Tite Barnacle Branch of the Circumlocution Office, a government agency that suggests Kafka and The Trial “It being one of the principles of the Circumlocution Office never, on any account whatever, to give a straightforward answer . . . it was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart.” -a variety of themes, including imprisonment, incarceration, quarantine and detention. Also twins, doubles, and aliases. Little Dorrit is a pleasure to read in spite of all the gloom & misery - *that* is Dickens’s power. The ending though, is rather hasty and muddled. If I weren’t so lazy I’d draw a chart which would clarify this mess, but suffice it to say that there is no incest.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Helene Jeppesen

    Wow, having disliked a lot of Dickens' novels in the past I'm surprised how much "Little Dorrit" appealed to me. While I was a bit confused as to the ending and the several characters and all their relations (I had to look up an analysis online just to make sure I got it all right), I still think that this is a really telling, humorous and interesting story. What I liked the most about this 1000-page-novel was the story of Little Dorrit and how she was raised. I have never read of a character li Wow, having disliked a lot of Dickens' novels in the past I'm surprised how much "Little Dorrit" appealed to me. While I was a bit confused as to the ending and the several characters and all their relations (I had to look up an analysis online just to make sure I got it all right), I still think that this is a really telling, humorous and interesting story. What I liked the most about this 1000-page-novel was the story of Little Dorrit and how she was raised. I have never read of a character like hers before, and I found it hugely entertaining to dive into her story and also see how she develops over the 1000 pages. I was also amused with the satiric paragraphs that are very typical of Dickens and which worked, in my opinion. It was funny and it was sarcastic, and I appreciated it a lot for that. All in all, it's hard to cover all of the 1000 pages and all of the underlying storylines in just a few words. Let's just say that this is, in my opinion, one of Dickens' better works because it is more simple, original and overall very much entertaining and typical for the Victorian literary era.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alasse

    I have a really close friend - let's call him Charlie. Charlie began college at 18, like most of us did. Then he sort of started drifting, and his friends began to suspect he wasn't sitting his exams. The years went by, and gradually they began to realize he wasn't even enrolling. He just avoided the issue, or made such an elaborate pretense of being terribly busy during exam season, they tacitly left the whole thing alone. To this day, he hasn't officially quit university or laid out any altern I have a really close friend - let's call him Charlie. Charlie began college at 18, like most of us did. Then he sort of started drifting, and his friends began to suspect he wasn't sitting his exams. The years went by, and gradually they began to realize he wasn't even enrolling. He just avoided the issue, or made such an elaborate pretense of being terribly busy during exam season, they tacitly left the whole thing alone. To this day, he hasn't officially quit university or laid out any alternative plans for his life - he's just frozen. But he's made such a good job of obliterating the issue, he firmly believes he's eventually finishing law school. He's 30 now. We talk on an almost daily basis, and I have never discussed this with him. I thought a lot about Charlie while reading Little Dorrit. I'm not going to dwell on the main themes in this novel. Firstly, because I have nothing to add that hasn't already been covered in the previous reviews. The imprisonment motif, the dysfunctional families, the criticism of Victorian society and of government incompetence - they're all there, and they're probably what the novel is about, mostly. But they didn't exactly surprise me - rather, those are topics one can always count on Dickens for covering in his, at the same time, sarcastic and empathic style. In this respect, the book delivers better than almost any Dickens I've read to date. The whole subplot concerning the fictional Circumlocution Office is borderline Kafkian, and the family melodrama gets dark. Like, really dark. But that is not the novel I have read. Which is embarrassing, because it's the novel all of the scholars have read, and all of GR's reviewers too. Meaning what I'm going to say now is going to sound, really, really pretentious. Okay, here I come: that's not what Little Dorrit really talks about. *ducks* I don't know if it was intentional on Dickens's part or just a result of his criticism of Victorian society, but if you pay close attention to the character development, you'll realize what I mean. Almost every main character in this novel (and a good portion of the secondary ones as well) are bent on deceiving themselves as methodically as possible. Sure, there are a couple of people here and there who pretend in front of other people, but they aren't believing their own lies. Still, pretty much everybody else is investing so much energy on self-deception, and making such a point of believing their own lies, I sometimes felt exhausted just watching them. There's of course the Dorrit family, with their airs of self-importance and wounded pride, overcompensating for the fact that they've been penniless for the last 25 years. Flora Finching insists on behaving like the 15-year old she once was, in the hopes that her old lover will propose to her again. Arthur insists on shutting off his feelings for Minnie Gowan, even after it becomes obvious that he's feeling deeply disappointed - the whole subplot is told in the third person, in a way that strongly reminded me of a depersonalization episode once recounted to me by a schizophrenic patient. And on, and on, and on. Of course I'm not claiming to know Dickens's mind better than the Harold Blooms of this world. But trust me - if you're at all interested in why people do what they do, you'll find Little Dorrit isn't just about bureaucracy and poverty. In fact, it might be that it's about the power of the human nature for believing its own lies, and how everyone else is just too polite to tell you to shut up.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Apatt

    Little Dorrit is one of the less reviewed Dickens, it is clearly not “up there” with Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and whatnot. I wish I could advance a theory as to why but I can’t because Little Dorrit really does deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those acclaimed titles. Anyway, it’s been years since I read a Dickens and it is always nice to pick one up. I just get a kick out of his writing style, the way the prose occasionally switch into a poetic / rhythm Little Dorrit is one of the less reviewed Dickens, it is clearly not “up there” with Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and whatnot. I wish I could advance a theory as to why but I can’t because Little Dorrit really does deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as those acclaimed titles. Anyway, it’s been years since I read a Dickens and it is always nice to pick one up. I just get a kick out of his writing style, the way the prose occasionally switch into a poetic / rhythmic mode, the way every character seems to have their own distinctive speech pattern and catch phrases, and the characters and story of course. I am fairly useless at deciphering themes from novels but if there is a single overriding theme in Little Dorrit that communicates itself to me I would say it is the virtue of modesty. The eponymous Little Dorrit (real name Amy Dorrit) is a young lady of twenty+, small in stature, unassuming in manner, without an atom of malice, kindly and virtuous to a fault. She is one of Dickens’ angelic girl stock characters. Yet the novel also shows that always being self-sacrificing, never thinking or doing anything for oneself can lead to a lot of unhappiness and being taken for granted by the people we are servicing. (TV Tropes.com classify this character type as “Incorruptible Pure Pureness”!). Sometimes I am a little resentful that Dickens expects me to love this shrinking violet of a character but her niceness does club me into submission after a while. If only real people could be like this. “This is the way in which she is doomed to be a constant slave to them that are not worthy that a constant slave she unto them should be.” Besides being a character study Dickens also has a lot to say about the bureaucracy, the class system of the time, debtors prisons and whatnot. I don’t want to go into details about such weighty matters but a special note should be made for the Circumlocution Office, a fictional government office which is a great bit of lampooning about red tapes. Dickens’ prose is great to read as always, sometimes beautiful, sometimes sarcastic, and sometimes hilarious. The dialogue similarly ranges from silly to heartfelt and profound, it brought a lump to this throat a few times. A very rare thing while reading I assure you. I am more sedimental than sentimental. In rating the book so high I am really cutting Dickens a lot of slack. His usage of deus ex machina at several plot points is a little outrageous. People become rich and poor at the drop of a hat, buildings fall on people just because they deserve it. Still, the way I see it a five stars rating does not indicate that the book is perfect; it just means that I like it a lot and am willing to forgive its flaws. If you were made to read Dickens at school and have consequently been avoiding him like the plague to this day as an adult reader I would suggest you give him another try. Personally, I am always up for a bit of Dickens, my favorite Victorian author probably. ________________________ Notes: • This review is based on the audiobook version amazingly well read by Mil Nicholson (with voices and accents galore), available for free at Librivox. • The BBC adaptation is very good (they almost always are).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Newton

    Ah, Dickens and his paragons. I adore Dickens, but his paragons are no different from anyone else’s—they’re excruciatingly dull. They’re stuffed full of every high-minded, moral quality with nary an inch for any of the less-attractive, negative qualities the rest of us mere mortals possess. They face their trials and tribulations with gentle courage and purity, braving despair, degradation, and death, and they escape unscathed, as innocent as newborn lambs. I thought, at first, that Little Dorri Ah, Dickens and his paragons. I adore Dickens, but his paragons are no different from anyone else’s—they’re excruciatingly dull. They’re stuffed full of every high-minded, moral quality with nary an inch for any of the less-attractive, negative qualities the rest of us mere mortals possess. They face their trials and tribulations with gentle courage and purity, braving despair, degradation, and death, and they escape unscathed, as innocent as newborn lambs. I thought, at first, that Little Dorrit was going to be one of these angels without wings. Happily, I was not completely right. Don’t get me wrong! She’s pretty darn innocent and pure. The difference is that, unlike some of Dickens’ other virtuous characters, we’re allowed a little more access to her mind. We see that she has fears, there are people she dislikes, and she recognizes some bad behavior when she sees it. Amy Dorrit (sorry, Amy—I prefer your given name to “Little Dorrit”), while mind-bogglingly forgiving of those she loves, seems a little more fleshed-out and real than I expected her to be when first introduced to her. And she only fainted once (or maybe twice). Still, that’s not too bad for one of Dickens’ ingénues, you gotta admit. Little Dorrit follows the lives and adventures of Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam. They meet while Amy is working as a seamstress for Arthur’s very unpleasant mother, and he is taken by her air of gentle sweetness. She is in her early twenties, but looks much younger, so Arthur persistently views her as a child. He befriends her and also gets to know her family. Amy has the dubious distinction of being the first child ever to be born and raised in Marshelsea prison, where her father is imprisoned for debt. This part draws on Dickens’ personal experience of having his own parent incarcerated in this same prison for this same offense. Just as the Dorrit family did, Dickens’ own family joins their patriarch in the prison (Charles didn’t, but was no less humiliated about the whole situation). Mr. Dorrit deals with his humiliation by affecting airs of gentility and lording it over the other prisoners as “a gentleman fallen on hard times.” Eventually, his arrogant attitude and his sheer longevity earn him the title of “Father of the Marshelsea,” and his air of condescension would have done a duke proud. Amy’s brother and sister are whiny, entitled (somehow!) brats who blame everyone else for their problems and generally bully their baby sister. Amy alone feels the shame of their position, but her loving nature forgives her family’s crass self-centeredness and ignorance. This book follows the ups and downs of Amy’s and Arthur Clennams’s fortunes, and both of them experience the extremes of wealth during the story. There is so much going on in this book—mysteries and secrets, unrequited love and heartbreak, shady characters and innocent victims, blackmail and fraud . . . and money. Everything comes back to money. We go from the elegant salons of the uber-rich to the dank cells of the imprisoned impoverished . . . and sometimes these people trade places! Dickens is at his satirical best here, as he skewers both the arrogance and pretensions of the upper classes, as well as the delusions of the power of wealth by the economically disadvantaged. Their comfortable conviction of their own superiority, their reverence for Mr. Merdle solely for his power to make money, and their embrace of Fanny, the former dancer, after she becomes wealthy lays bare their venality and hypocrisy. The Dorrits, meanwhile, bemoan their lot in life and their lack of means to support their station, but are no happier when they are suddenly in possession of the wealth they had long dreamed of. And of course, there is the portrayal of the benevolent powers of government. This is a literary portrait of true beauty, and Dickens’ deft touch is sublime to behold. He presents us with the all-powerful, awe-inspiring Circumlocution Office (literally: talking in circles), which is mostly staffed by the members of a socially prominent family by the name of Barnacle (another jibe!), and the sole aim of this government office is to show how NOT to do things. They are very careful to never actually accomplish anything or help anyone—that would be beyond the pale! Dickens’ presentation of this institution is laugh-out-loud funny. There were SO many quotable lines that I just couldn’t include them all in my status updates, or it would have taken me twice as long to finish this book! I’m not going to go into all the characters, sub-plots, and mysteries in this book: there are so many! It’s quite an entertaining read, and contains a host of Dickens’ trademark minor characters, such as Flora, Clennam’s ex, who speaks in stream-of-consciousness, and her slightly-addled bequest, known only as “Mr. F’s Aunt.” There’s Young John Chivery, the lovelorn turnkey, and Edward Sparkler, the brainless stepson of “the eighth wonder of the world,” Mr. Merdle. As with all of Dickens’ books, I highly recommend it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Having not fallen fully under the sway of Dickens’s longest, Bleak House, we’re back to the savagely impressive corkers with this satirical and tender effort from the Immortal Blighty Scribe (IBS—unfortunate acronym). On a less grandiose scale than the preceding tome, Little Dorrit is much quieter, funnier, more powerfully affecting novel throughout than BH. In two parts, Poverty & Riches, the novel charts the progress of Amy Dorrit, (the token spirit of purity and goodness), and her family Having not fallen fully under the sway of Dickens’s longest, Bleak House, we’re back to the savagely impressive corkers with this satirical and tender effort from the Immortal Blighty Scribe (IBS—unfortunate acronym). On a less grandiose scale than the preceding tome, Little Dorrit is much quieter, funnier, more powerfully affecting novel throughout than BH. In two parts, Poverty & Riches, the novel charts the progress of Amy Dorrit, (the token spirit of purity and goodness), and her family from Marshelsea debtors’ prison into a shaky life of infinite riches and never-ending Italian holidays. Central to the novel is her father William, who replaces his memories of destitution with violent hauteur, and whose mental collapse is rendered with masterful swings of wrenching drama. Clenham is the more complex, reticent hero, almost frustratingly dim in spots, but no less than impeccable on the moral scruples front. Apart from a sudden gallop into action-packed melodrama in the last 100pp or so, and a byzantine final-reveal sequence to out-Lost Lost, Little Dorrit goes straight atop the essential-Dickens pile, along with all the others. [And a final warning to Oxford World’s Classics: if you make your fonts any smaller, I will send in the midget assassins]. Recent Andrew Davies BBC version on YT

  10. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Though the title character is static, never wavering, by the end, she has transformed into a symbol. I was reminded of the title character in My Ántonia in that she too becomes a symbol by her book’s end—a symbol of an ideal American woman. In much the same way, Amy Dorrit is the symbol of ideal English womanhood, at least in the eyes of the time period: taking care of her difficult father, always with patience and love; sticking by her man, doing all for him, even when he’s not aware of it. Tho Though the title character is static, never wavering, by the end, she has transformed into a symbol. I was reminded of the title character in My Ántonia in that she too becomes a symbol by her book’s end—a symbol of an ideal American woman. In much the same way, Amy Dorrit is the symbol of ideal English womanhood, at least in the eyes of the time period: taking care of her difficult father, always with patience and love; sticking by her man, doing all for him, even when he’s not aware of it. Though Little Dorrit is Duty personified—never drudging Duty, always loving Duty—she’s not submissive; and it’s rather amazing that Dickens does get this across, even to modern-day sensibilities. She’s even surprisingly forward at one juncture. Because I am not of the 19th century, when I read this in the 20th century, I loved the character of the bitter Miss Wade. Her articulation of her anger at her lot in life drew me in. Now, in the 21st century, reading Miss Wade’s letter, I didn’t feel the same frisson; but she’s still my favorite of this bunch: a powerful psychological portrait by Dickens. Miss Wade is clearly not Dickens’ favorite, yet he doesn’t punish her as much as the time he was writing in might’ve expected. The last page of the novel is exquisite, a perfect rendering of an oasis of peace amidst a world that will never shut up. (A reread with the Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)

    Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens is arguably one of the very best fiction books I've read in my entire life. I would unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone. It was captivating, engaging, and at times humorous, and at other times sad; with romance, mystery, and intrigue. Dickens' plotting is amazing, his characters intriguing, and his descriptions solidly place you in the midst of London in the Victorian Age in all social classes. The message and moral tone of this novel is so incredibly ap Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens is arguably one of the very best fiction books I've read in my entire life. I would unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone. It was captivating, engaging, and at times humorous, and at other times sad; with romance, mystery, and intrigue. Dickens' plotting is amazing, his characters intriguing, and his descriptions solidly place you in the midst of London in the Victorian Age in all social classes. The message and moral tone of this novel is so incredibly applicable to today's economic and social conditions. A fabulous book; and made even more fabulous with watching the sumptuous Andrew Davies screenplay brought to life in the multi-episode BBC adaptation that aired originally in March-April 2009 on Masterpiece Classics on PBS TV. I think that Little Dorrit is an important book, not only for our time, but anytime, and a book that I simply love to revisit every few years.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Dickens built his novel, Little Dorrit, around the life of inmates of the Marshalsea Prison, and drew from some very personal experiences to do so. I did not find these characters as compelling nor his plot as tight as usual, but still a worthy read and much enjoyed. Amy Dorrit (whose moniker of “Little Dorrit” aggravated me), is a bit too perfect, sweet and unselfish for my tastes; Arthur Clennam a bit too clueless about his own feelings and what was going on with others; and our major villain Dickens built his novel, Little Dorrit, around the life of inmates of the Marshalsea Prison, and drew from some very personal experiences to do so. I did not find these characters as compelling nor his plot as tight as usual, but still a worthy read and much enjoyed. Amy Dorrit (whose moniker of “Little Dorrit” aggravated me), is a bit too perfect, sweet and unselfish for my tastes; Arthur Clennam a bit too clueless about his own feelings and what was going on with others; and our major villain Rigaud a little too much like Snidely Whiplash, right down to the twisting of the moustache. The loves and hates in this novel were also somewhat contrived. Of course, those emotions can be pretty arbitrary in real life. We’ve probably all known people who hate beyond the bounds of the offense they have endured and one person or another who has professed to love someone who was obviously a cad and below their worthiness. Mainly, however, I did not feel that the explanation for the mysteries at the heart of the novel really made good sense. So, not on a level with Great Expectations or Bleak House , but still...a bad Dickens is better than almost anyone else, it is the high expectations that cause the problem. If you ever suffer from the idea that the problems of Charles Dickens’ world won’t have correlatives in our world, you ought to read Little Dorrit . Sprinkled amid the convoluted story of Amy Dorrit and Arthur Clennam is a diatribe on bureaucracy that felt far too familiar. Perhaps it is uniquely American (of course NOT) that people in government seem more interested in “not doing” than in “doing”, but I could so totally relate to the red tape approach to running off the petitioner, and I’m betting everyone else who has ever tried to deal with government can as well. Hold up your hand if Mr. Rugg’s comments here ring true: ”If the money I have sacrificed had been all my own, Mr. Rugg,” sighed Mr. Clennam, “I should have cared far less. “Indeed sir? said Mr. Rugg, rubbing his hands with a cheerful air. “You surprise me. That’s singular, sir. I have generally found, in my experience, that it’s their own money people are most particular about. I have seen people get rid of a good deal of other people’s money, and bear it very well; very well indeed.” Oops, too many to count. And, when I came across this passage, I could not help thinking of Bernie Madoff: Numbers of men in every profession and trade would be blighted by his insolvency; old people who had been in easy circumstances all their lives would have no place of repentance for their trust in him but the workhouse; legions of women and children would have their whole future desolated by the hand of this mighty scoundrel. Every partaker of his magnificent feasts would be seen to have been a sharer in the plunder of innumerable homes, every servile worshipper of riches who had helped to set him on his pedestal, would have done better to worship the Devil point blank. But what really struck me was that he was admired by one of the characters for pulling the deception off so universally, and I gasped because I had an acquaintance who actually made that statement about Madoff…"You have to admire him for his cleverness”, he said. NO, NO and NO. Would you not think people would have learned between 1855 and 2008? Apparently human nature thrives on the same errors repeated over centuries. There is much that could be said about this novel and, like every Dickens I have read, it would make for a marvelous group read. If you want to know more and delve deeper, I strongly suggest that you take the time to read the review written by Bionic Jean, our resident Dickens guru, who never gets it wrong and always enlightens my reading. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... I was afraid I was going to fail in my quest to read all of Dickens by culling two a year off my list. Thankfully, I have finished Little Dorrit just in time to satisfy this year. I read Hard Times as well. I have Martin Chuzzlewit, about which I know nothing, and The Old Curiosity Shop, a story I am very familiar with but have not ever read, slated for 2019. It would be lovely if I could up the ante and squeeze in a third! I must say I have enjoyed every single novel so far.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Good god, was this a snoozer. I love Charles Dickens like nobody's business, but this book was about 600 pages longer than it needed to be. If he was getting paid by the page, I'm not hatin', but it seemed to drag on and on and on without really going anywhere. Little Dorrit herself is a really boring character because she is a meek little Mary Sue whose entire personality consists of being weak, submissive, and a pushover to everybody else. The plot is kind of vague and poorly defined and goes Good god, was this a snoozer. I love Charles Dickens like nobody's business, but this book was about 600 pages longer than it needed to be. If he was getting paid by the page, I'm not hatin', but it seemed to drag on and on and on without really going anywhere. Little Dorrit herself is a really boring character because she is a meek little Mary Sue whose entire personality consists of being weak, submissive, and a pushover to everybody else. The plot is kind of vague and poorly defined and goes off into weird tangents at times. I finished the book with a few things left unanswered, and the ending felt kind of anticlimactic and rushed (sort of ironic given how the pace dragged the rest of the way). Where this book shines is in Dickens' wonderfully written secondary characters and his brilliant descriptions of an intentionally inept and horribly ineffective bureaucracy. His writing is witty and engaging, and he's quite good at writing memorable characters. I just feel like that wasn't enough to make this book memorable as a whole, though, especially when Dickens has so many fantastic novels. I'd recommend this book to fans of Dickens, but for everybody else, pass on this one!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rick Slane

    I was given a copy of this book by a co-worker. It was 860 pages long with denser prose than that of which I am fond. A debtors' prison is the main setting and where Little Dorrit is born. I am not a careful enough reader to catch much of the humor Dickens injects regarding low and high society as well as patent offices and other government bureaucracies. (view spoiler)[There is a Bernie Madoff like character and a happy ending. (hide spoiler)]

  15. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    For years I thought this book was some sort of a universal joke, because at the end of Evelyn Waugh's novel, A Handful of Dust, one of the characters ends up trapped in a jungle by a madman who forces the character to read Little Dorrit aloud — I figured this was clearly meant to be a fate worse than death. Turns out, however, that Little Dorrit was merely an appropriate choice because of its themes of imprisonment, delusion, and reversals of fortune. Ah ha! Little Dorrit (the character) is the d For years I thought this book was some sort of a universal joke, because at the end of Evelyn Waugh's novel, A Handful of Dust, one of the characters ends up trapped in a jungle by a madman who forces the character to read Little Dorrit aloud — I figured this was clearly meant to be a fate worse than death. Turns out, however, that Little Dorrit was merely an appropriate choice because of its themes of imprisonment, delusion, and reversals of fortune. Ah ha! Little Dorrit (the character) is the diminutive, angelic daughter of Mr. Dorrit, the “father of the Marshalsea”, which is the debtor’s prison where he resides in a self-manufactured state of importance. Every day while he holds court with the other debtors, his three children leave the Marshalsea to work — a fact nobody ever mentions in order for Mr. Dorrit to maintain the fiction that the Dorrits are people of quality and leisure; their unfortunate 20 year-long incarceration is because of some nebulous financial mismanagement on someone else’s part. Other families with even greater levels of dysfunction and delusion populate this wonderfully rich novel, making the rather daunting 900 pages zip right along. If you’ve read any Dickens, you know to expect plot twists, reversals, dark secrets and convoluted connections — Little Dorrit does not disappoint. As with several of Dickens’ later works that take on various institutions, this novel skewers the penal system and government bureaucracy (with the wonderfully named “Circumlocution Office”). Little Dorrit doesn’t have nearly the same level of intrigue as A Tale of Two Cities, but Dickens certainly does know how to turn a phrase, and his funniest characterizations never grow old.

  16. 5 out of 5

    S.

    Reading Little Dorrit is like having your own portable fireplace to cozy up to. It’s also huge, like a log or a brick. At 1,000 pages, if you set it on fire, it would burn for a long time. But I don’t mean it that way. I mean reading Little Dorrit makes you want to take off your shoes, don your housecoat and lean way the hell over the open pages, soaking up all that homey tenderness. Reading Little Dorrit is like suffering the ritual of birthday cake. It’s also enormous like cake is enormous, hea Reading Little Dorrit is like having your own portable fireplace to cozy up to. It’s also huge, like a log or a brick. At 1,000 pages, if you set it on fire, it would burn for a long time. But I don’t mean it that way. I mean reading Little Dorrit makes you want to take off your shoes, don your housecoat and lean way the hell over the open pages, soaking up all that homey tenderness. Reading Little Dorrit is like suffering the ritual of birthday cake. It’s also enormous like cake is enormous, heavy and sticky like children’s fingers. But with the ritual I mean watching the cake float towards you in the dark, luminous with spindly candles. You want to lean way the hell over it and, soaking up the glow, make your best wish, blow, and bellyflop into all that icing. Reading Little Dorrit is like being dragged by your parents to a revival festival teeming with tents and strange people. By dragged I mean you used to like going but now think you’re too old for it. You wander around -it’s on the edge of a forest- and you like the smell of the pines and campfires but you stick to the parking lot where some other characters share their six-packs, and there’s a puddle of rain and spew and you lean way the hell over it and see your own reflection.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shirley Revill

    I read this book some time ago and it's still one of my favourite classic stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Yaboimazz

    from da scorchin sun a marsellies 2 da dark cold cellof a debtors prison, lill dorrit b 1 of dickens 4gotten masta pieces. dey be lockin boyz up 4 sum wack shit back in da day. ma man dorrit wuz in jail 4 debt 4 so long he had 3 dam kids up in there. N now he think he hot shit jus cus all da prisoners look up 2 him. n he always thinks his kids don work (but dey do). he is off his wacker n shiyt, nom sayin? so dis guy arthur think he owes dees dorrit peeps bc his pops was into sum shady shyt or wh from da scorchin sun a marsellies 2 da dark cold cellof a debtors prison, lill dorrit b 1 of dickens 4gotten masta pieces. dey be lockin boyz up 4 sum wack shit back in da day. ma man dorrit wuz in jail 4 debt 4 so long he had 3 dam kids up in there. N now he think he hot shit jus cus all da prisoners look up 2 him. n he always thinks his kids don work (but dey do). he is off his wacker n shiyt, nom sayin? so dis guy arthur think he owes dees dorrit peeps bc his pops was into sum shady shyt or whateva. N lil dorrit crushin on arthur hard, but arthur aint into her like dat. she seem pretty plain, but sum dig her so maybe she fine. her sista seem fine doe. maybe lil got a tite body but aint much to look at. or maybe da other fellas chechin out her sis. dont really noe. anyway, book was pretty legit, doe i wish lil d wuz finer. she probly alright doe. deres also dis thing called da circumlocution office. mad funni satire bro!!!!!! 1 dey be sayin gov cant do shit. i bet sum obama h8ers wrote dem chapters. sic dis book is old.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Little Dorrit is a novel of family loyalty. We follow the paths of three families, and rub shoulders with a few others as well. Our three primary households are the Dorrits, the Clennams, and the Meagles. Little Amy Dorrit is the child of the Marshalsea debtors prison. She was born there and lived there with her father and two siblings, Fanny and Edward, for her entire early life. Once grown, Fanny and Edward leave the prison, but Little Dorrit stays on to support her father. Amy is the perfect d Little Dorrit is a novel of family loyalty. We follow the paths of three families, and rub shoulders with a few others as well. Our three primary households are the Dorrits, the Clennams, and the Meagles. Little Amy Dorrit is the child of the Marshalsea debtors prison. She was born there and lived there with her father and two siblings, Fanny and Edward, for her entire early life. Once grown, Fanny and Edward leave the prison, but Little Dorrit stays on to support her father. Amy is the perfect daughter and the perfect Dickensian woman. She is small but strong of body and spirit. She is extremely loyal to her father, seeking to please and provide for him in all matters, and unwilling to hear a word against him, even when that word is the truth. Her father is self-absorbed and proud. Although thirty years locked in, he still prizes his status as a gentleman and is greatly concerned with upholding the family honor. Fanny and Amy both work, but (ostensibly) hide this fact from their father, who would feel ashamed to have his lady-daughters hiring themselves out as common workers. Arthur Clennam has just returned from twenty years of company work in China. There, he served the family business alongside his father, who has just passed away. Arthur comes home to his mother, a physically crippled but hard-minded woman, who raised Arthur in a stern and loveless manner. Despite the cold childhood she gave him, Arthur tries to respond to her with a son's love, though she finds his love hard to stomach. Arthur gives her notice that he is leaving the family business. She doesn't take it kindly. Minny “Pet” Meagles is the only living daughter of the most loving of parents. Her twin sister died in childhood, and Pet has grown up, as her name indicates, petted in every way. While perhaps a little too innocent and privileged, she has turned out very sweet and kind and loving. She adores her parents, but takes her love-filled environment for granted. Having fallen in love with a man her parents dislike, she goes ahead with an undesirable marriage, assuming that married life will be a lovely as her family life has been. Living with the Meagles family is Harriet, called Tattycoram. She is a beautiful and fiery orphan girl, who holds the Meagles's kindness to her against them. She hates feeling condescended to, and hates even more the difference she perceives between the way Pet has been lovingly raised, and the way she feels she has been raised as a charity child. She, too, takes the Meagles's love for her for granted, and even holds it in contempt. In true Dickens fashion, the lives of these families intersect, secrets are revealed, and reversals of fortune turn the positions of Amy, Arthur, and Pet on their heads. Still, the three continue to deal with issues of family loyalty as circumstances change. Mister Dorrit, it is discovered, is actually heir to a huge fortune and property. In great pomp, he and his family exit the Marshalsea and embark on a grand European tour preparatory to returning to England and entering Society. Fanny and Edward slide smoothly into their new positions as wealthy socialites, but Amy struggles. Her father wishes to forget the Marshalsea and everything connected with it. He wants to remake Amy. But her whole life has been the Marshalsea and the people she's met in connection with it. Although the other Dorrits might be able to shut the door on their past, she, as the only family member whose whole life took place around the prison, finds this distressing and painful. Still, to please her father, she loyally tries her best to give up the people and remembrances she loves. Arthur's mother has gotten into some trouble with a businessman who isn't all he seems. This evil man has discovered a Clennam family secret and wants to blackmail her. Of course, proud and stern, she won't share her situation with Arthur—especially as the secret she's protecting has to do with him. He, dutifully filial, continues to visit and reach out to her, although she persistently rejects his loving gestures. During his visits, he encounters the villainous “man of business”, senses something amiss, and wants to protect his mother and help her out of her trouble. She denies him, saying he left the family business and the family home, and now has no right to participate in any decisions or workings-out connected to either. Meanwhile, Pet is married and away in Italy with her artist husband. Married life is not all she hoped it would be. But, in her good nature, she puts her happiest face on and loves her husband despite his flaws (he runs through all their money—which comes from Pet's family—disregards Pet's discomfort with a certain strange gentleman, and takes her for granted, loving her beauty and sweetness, but not caring for her as a husband should for his wife). She starts to miss home. Not just the place, but the people. When Pet becomes pregnant, her parents travel to visit her. Unfortunately, though she longs for her parents' love, her husband doesn't feel the same way. In fact, he dislikes keeping up a connection with the Meagless. Tattycoram, on the other hand, has made a very unfortunate connection in the spiteful Miss Wade. She has run away to live with Miss Wade in a fit of rage toward her protectors. But life with Miss Wade is dark and full of hate, and remembrances of life with the Meagles family appear in a new light. Both Miss Wade and Tattycoram are orphans, both struggle with receiving the kindness of others, but will both end up giving in to their hate? Or will Tattycoram decide that an adopted family is better than no family at all, and that loyalty to those who love you is better than loyalty to your idea of how life among others should be? In the end, some of our friends are freed from their loyalties, by death or distance; while others make a decision to strengthen their loyalties or form new ones. Either way, Dickens shows us that family loyalty is a strong and admirable virtue, but one that can cause great pain as well, especially when not equally shared by all members of the family. P.S. LOVED this novel. Probably my second favorite Dickens, after David Copperfield. Brilliant characters in here. I particularly loved the flighty ex-flame of Arthur, Flora. This excitable romantic, grown into a stout and ridiculous (but kind and loveable) middle-aged widow, speaks with only commas for punctuation and totally won me over with her devotion to Arthur and her deep-down selflessness. She was the perfect comic relief in a book that burrows through some of life's darker passages.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    I’ve been trying to read this for almost a year. It has too many characters and it’s hard to keep track of them. It’s a slow book not much happens

  21. 5 out of 5

    Feliks

    For a long time I languished in the supreme belief that 'Bleak House' was the highest caliber product of Dickens when it came to his 'really big' works. 'Bleak House' is renowned in English literary criticism as--gasp-the #1 novel of the English language. And I too, thought so. But the difference which makes 'Dorrit' better are these: (1) humor. The book is riotously funny. (2) Better females. The women in 'Bleak House' are melodramatic, traumatic, and oh-so-serious. None of them are really lovab For a long time I languished in the supreme belief that 'Bleak House' was the highest caliber product of Dickens when it came to his 'really big' works. 'Bleak House' is renowned in English literary criticism as--gasp-the #1 novel of the English language. And I too, thought so. But the difference which makes 'Dorrit' better are these: (1) humor. The book is riotously funny. (2) Better females. The women in 'Bleak House' are melodramatic, traumatic, and oh-so-serious. None of them are really lovable. But Amy Dorrit is adorable! (3) Arthur Clenman. For once, Dickens gives us a fully-fledged, sensitive male character to whom any regular guy can identify with. He is not lurid, overly-virtuous, overly-heroic, or exaggerated. Anyway. This novel is one of Dickens' career best. It displays the caliber of writing you can always see from Dickens when he's really 'in-the-zone'. I would match it against any of his other works except 'A Tale of Two Cities' which is in a class of its own. But 'Dorrit' vs 'Copperfield', or 'Expectations', or 'Nickelby', or 'Mutual Friend' or 'Pickwick'...or even 'Bleak'(!) certainly 'Dorrit' blows them away. Its astounding but so. This is one case where you can't listen to the critics: no matter how much one respects 'Bleak'; 'Dorrit' is a narrative which will bring exuberation and good cheer to your life. Every Dickens novel has fun villains to despise--this one has them too-- but for once here is a novel with humor and sweetness, and characters you can really take to your heart.

  22. 4 out of 5

    James

    Another classic from Dickens (by definition - obviously) although not my favourite. Great characterisation and social observation as per usual - with striking resonance to many areas of contemporary life in many respects (particularly the circumlocution office - loved it!) . It goes without saying that the complex plot lines and unlikely intertwining of plot / sub-plot and seemingly unrelated characters is often hugely implausible - but with Dickens this is somewhat missing the point. All his no Another classic from Dickens (by definition - obviously) although not my favourite. Great characterisation and social observation as per usual - with striking resonance to many areas of contemporary life in many respects (particularly the circumlocution office - loved it!) . It goes without saying that the complex plot lines and unlikely intertwining of plot / sub-plot and seemingly unrelated characters is often hugely implausible - but with Dickens this is somewhat missing the point. All his novels are so packed full of life, interest, intrigue, social observation, satire and humour (amongst many other things) - how can you fail to find them anything other than compelling! Looking forward to reading Our Mutual Friend and Edwin Drood next - then I'll have read them all...!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Arthur Clennam befriends seamstress Amy Dorrit and meets her extraordinary family at a debtor's prison. Dickens adaptation stars Ian McKellen. 2/5: Arthur Clannam worries about his parents, but thinks he's found a new love. Amy receives a proposal. 3/5: Surprising discoveries about the Dorrits are revealed, but Arthur is yet to solve his family's secret. 4/5: The newly wealthy Dorrits set off on a tour of Europe, but Amy is feeling homesick. 5/5: Arthur is struck by disaster, From BBC Radio 4 Extra: Arthur Clennam befriends seamstress Amy Dorrit and meets her extraordinary family at a debtor's prison. Dickens adaptation stars Ian McKellen. 2/5: Arthur Clannam worries about his parents, but thinks he's found a new love. Amy receives a proposal. 3/5: Surprising discoveries about the Dorrits are revealed, but Arthur is yet to solve his family's secret. 4/5: The newly wealthy Dorrits set off on a tour of Europe, but Amy is feeling homesick. 5/5: Arthur is struck by disaster, and Mrs Clennam is finally forced into revealing the family secret. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01b20s5 Free download available at Project Gutenberg. A TV Series was made based on this book: Little Dorrit (2008), with Claire Foy, Matthew Macfadyen, Tom Courtenay . This series is available (13 episodes) at YouTube. 3* Oliver Twist 4* David Copperfield 4* Great Expectations 4* A Tale of Two Cities 4* Our Mutual Friend 4* A Christmas Carol 2* The Chimes 3* The Baron of Grogzwig 4* The Trial for Murder 3* The Haunted House 4* The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain 4* A House to Let 3* A Message from the Sea 4* Hard Times 3* Mrs Lirriper's Lodgings 3* L'abîme 5* Barnaby Rudge 2* The Mystery of Edwin Drood 2* The Pickwick Papers 4* Bleak House 4* Scenes and Characters from the Works of Charles Dickens Being Eight Hundred and Sixty-six Pictures Printed From the Original Wood Blocks 3* The Battle Of Life 3* Hunted Down 4* Little Dorrit TR No Thoroughfare TR To Be Read at Dusk TR The Seven Poor Travellers TR Nicholas Nickleby TR Dombey and Son TR A Child's Dream of a Star TR Martin Chuzzlewit TR The Cricket on the Hearth TR The Old Curiosity Shop TR A Child's History of England About Charles Dickens: 4* The Mystery Of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd 3* Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin TR Charles Dickens by George Orwell TR Charles Dickens: A Critical Study by G.K. Chesterton TR

  24. 4 out of 5

    Janice

    I think I need a break from Dickens. Reading _Little Dorrit_ after _Dombey and Son_, and within months of finishing _Bleak House_ has made me frustrated with his ideal female character. He uses the phrase "active submission" to describe Amy Dorrit, but it could be equally applied to Esther or Florence, characters whose main virtue is waiting without complaint for their objects of devotion to treat them properly, and for their lives to be less miserable. _Little Dorrit_ and _Dombey and Son_ both I think I need a break from Dickens. Reading _Little Dorrit_ after _Dombey and Son_, and within months of finishing _Bleak House_ has made me frustrated with his ideal female character. He uses the phrase "active submission" to describe Amy Dorrit, but it could be equally applied to Esther or Florence, characters whose main virtue is waiting without complaint for their objects of devotion to treat them properly, and for their lives to be less miserable. _Little Dorrit_ and _Dombey and Son_ both have wonderfully menacing villains, but without a dynamic hero or heroine to counter them, the plot relies on dramatic external events to wipe them out. All this may simply be a reflection of a Christian ethos, one of suffering patiently, even lovingly, no matter the abuse, and relying on God (in this case, the author) to resolve every problem. It is not my own ethos, however, and I am beginning to find it tiresome. Of note in this story are the events involving banking, investing, and speculating. One character even turns out to be a Victorian Bernie Madoff of sorts (and "Madoff" could be a name straight out of Dickens, come to think of it). Dickens' cautionary tale is as relevant today as ever.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kimber

    How I loved this book. Dickens is amazing, although, I admit, he is incredibly verbose in this book! But the thing is, I ENJOYED every minute of the verbosity! His sentences are just crammed with meaning. Every paragraph is a sermon on human behavior. He paints each character as a particular human trait. For instance, the character in this book who is torn between being good or evil is a twisted man, literally. His body leans to the side, his head bends over, even his mouth is rather hideously t How I loved this book. Dickens is amazing, although, I admit, he is incredibly verbose in this book! But the thing is, I ENJOYED every minute of the verbosity! His sentences are just crammed with meaning. Every paragraph is a sermon on human behavior. He paints each character as a particular human trait. For instance, the character in this book who is torn between being good or evil is a twisted man, literally. His body leans to the side, his head bends over, even his mouth is rather hideously twisted. And as the reader, you find yourself constantly trying to figure out which way he is going to go. I love it! I also enjoyed the Masterpiece movie version of Little Dorrit, which inspired me to read the book. I wonder if I would have loved the book as much as I did if I hadn't fallen in love with the movie first and was already acquainted with each of the characters. It may be difficult to keep everyone in the story straight if you're picking up the book for the first time, but my advice would be to stick with it and don't worry about getting to the end...you'll get there eventually...just enjoy the journey along the way! Loved this book so much.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    More complex than my other favorite Dickens novels (and less adventure) but what a wonderful story! And of course, the many eccentric characters which Dickens excelled at - Miss Wade (who epitomizes the phrase "a chip on the shoulder"), Mr. Dorrit (the "father of the Marshalsea"), the Bosom (!! otherwise known as Mrs. Merdles), Affrety... I could go on and on. I can see that some readers would not care for this, especially the ending but I like the way Dickens always gives us that happy ending.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ayu Palar

    People may say that I am such a huge fan of Charles Dickens. Yes, I am, but at the same time I also have to be objective in reading and criticizing his works. This year I have gained back my love for Dickens’ novels. It started with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With its bleak atmosphere, it has brought me back to the world of Dickens. Finishing it, I wanted some more of Dickens. Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend then charmed me with their own significant way. However, Little Dorrit does not do th People may say that I am such a huge fan of Charles Dickens. Yes, I am, but at the same time I also have to be objective in reading and criticizing his works. This year I have gained back my love for Dickens’ novels. It started with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. With its bleak atmosphere, it has brought me back to the world of Dickens. Finishing it, I wanted some more of Dickens. Bleak House and Our Mutual Friend then charmed me with their own significant way. However, Little Dorrit does not do the same thing to me. Nope, it is not a bad piece of writing. It’s just lack of spells to bewitch me. Little Dorrit opens with such a dark scene, which is two people talking in a prison. From the very beginning, we are introduced to the villain of the novel, Blandois, and I kept asking what the hell this man’s gonna do. And that became my problem with the novel. Until the end of the novel, I didn’t find the clear answer of what Blandois has done and what the motive is. Perhaps I missed something in this case, so can anyone be so kind to explain it to me? From his appearance (his terrific moustache and nose), Blandois has the potential to be a remarkable villain, but since I do not clearly understand his motive, I cannot find him outstanding. Another thing that I do not understand is the function of Tattycoram to the whole plot. Yes she’s an emotional girl, then what does it have to do with the main plot? Thankfully, readers, we have Arthur Clennam. After Pip and Nicholas Nickleby, he is the Dickens’ hero that I find adorable (Well, Bradley Headstone is unforgettable but not because he’s adorable, right?). As a 40 year old man coming home from China, Clennam feels quite isolated in England either culturally or personally. I like how Dickens delivers the personal conflict in Clennam’s heart: his distance with his mother, his supressed feeling for Pet, and finally his love to Little Dorrit. And yes, Orwell is right. He once wrote that once Dickens describes something, you will not forget it maybe for the rest of your life. A scene that is really memorable is when Clennam gives up Pet for another man. The paragraph goes like this: When he walked on the river’s brink in the peaceful moonlight for some half an hour, he put his hand in his breast, and tenderly took out the handful of roses. Perhaps he put them to his heart, perhaps he put them to his lips, but certainly he went down on the shore, and gently launched them on the flowing river. Pale and unreal in the moonlight, the river floated them away That happens when Clennam finds out that Pet is going to marry another man, and Dickens shows that Clennam is willing to let Pet go through the launching of roses to the river by Clennam. The roses, of course, are given by Pet before. Such a great symbolization. How about our Little Dorrit? At first I thought that she’s the typical of an ideal Victorian woman (motherly and feminine), but as the story went, I started to consider her motherly characteristic as a strength, not as a sign of submissiveness. When her father and Clennam have to face the bad situation, it is Little Dorrit who becomes tough and can support the two men. She might be known as Little Dorrit, yet she got this HUGE character, I believe. Oh, I also fall in love with Young John Chivery’s character. As Little Dorrit’s childhood friend, he’s been in love with her since then. What is interesting about Young John is that everytime he gets a new experience, either it is good or bad, he always imagines what’s gonna written on his tomb. His character may invite you to laugh but in the end, we’re going to see how this funny character has such a big heart. I cannot wait to see how Russel Tovey (The History Boys) portrays Young John’s character :). With two strong main characters and other memorable characters, it is disappointing that Little Dorrit doesn’t really give me enough explanation about the major conflict. Or I may say, the web isn’t tangled really well. So, Chuck, I am sorry. Three stars, not more than that.

  28. 5 out of 5

    K.

    I love Dickens. Any and all. -- Read with Victorians! Jan 2011. Just reminds me how much I love Dickens. As I began this, the tone of it made me wonder and I had to look up a list of Dickens' works to see where this one fell. It sounded darker, more cynical, more like "Hard Times" to me than the more lighthearted and sarcastic things like "Oliver." It was indeed published just after "Hard Times." Funny, then I read on a Dickens site the very same observation. I actually like the tone of the later I love Dickens. Any and all. -- Read with Victorians! Jan 2011. Just reminds me how much I love Dickens. As I began this, the tone of it made me wonder and I had to look up a list of Dickens' works to see where this one fell. It sounded darker, more cynical, more like "Hard Times" to me than the more lighthearted and sarcastic things like "Oliver." It was indeed published just after "Hard Times." Funny, then I read on a Dickens site the very same observation. I actually like the tone of the later books better. When I read "Oliver" to my kids, it was hard to explain some of the sarcasm, I just let it float on over. Though there are still laugh-out-loud moments in LD, it's not quite the same kind of humor. Not so facetious, more geniuine humor. Anyway, it seems perhaps that Dickens realized the importance of some of his themes more fully, and portrayed them in a more realistic and desperate, even heart-wrenching way rather than in trying to make the subjects more light, ludicrous or silly. In many of his works, Dickens takes on a social institution he wanted to examine. LD is government as a whole (the Circumlocution Office), the debtor's prison system, fawning Society. ("Oliver" --workhouse, orphanage, crime society; "Nicholas"--English Boarding Schools; "Bleak House"--Chancery or the law; "Hard Times"--English education system; and others). I have never read much about how Dickens was received (except in terms of popularity), but I wonder how he was received in terms of changing anything about the ills of his world. (Oh, I do remember reading something to the fact that the horrible boarding schools were scrutinzed and after almost eradicated, but I can't be sure about it and don't wish to research it right this moment.) I also know that in one of the Barchester Chronicles Anthony Trollope calls Dickens "Mr. Popular Sentiment." Funny. Anway, I also know that Dickens has been criticized in that all his stories seem to come full circle in such a "coincidental" way--every character has something do with every other character in some significant way--and sometimes in such a far-fetched way. However, perhaps the genius of Dickens is that, even so, it works. It really, really, works. The reader runs the full gamut of emotion as well, and usually not in a apathetic way, but in a full-out deeply felt way. Laugh-out-loud, disgust, full-out, chest-heaving weeping (in sadness and in joy). The other criticism levelled at him are that so many of his characters seem to be caricatures, not "real" people. I beg to disagree, and that is what makes it work so well. Sure, he does bring out some character traits that seem over the top and some of his descriptions are almost garish, but it still works. Some of his side characters are not as fleshed-out, of course (the book is already 900 pages!) But I felt that I glimpsed deeply into the soul of a real human in Arthur and Amy, and even into some of the side characters such as Fanny, Pancks, Flora and Minnie. They are beautiful, real creations. That is what I love about Dickens. Despite that it may seem that he loved to poke fun and laugh at the ludicrous side of humanity, I think his deep love for it is what really shines and makes people love his books. One last thing I know he is criticised for, which I'd like to wonder about here. It has been said that his main women characters are of two unbelievable sorts: 1) evil, heartless, foolish and designing women; or 2) angels in female form, so good & uncomplaining as to not possibly be true. I know that Amy Dorrit (and Lucy Mannette, TofTC; and Esther Summerson, BH) and would be consigned to that fate. But I'd like to say that no ethereal angel could be so strong and show the character of a real woman as these ladies who really know how to do hard things, and do them. They are heroes, and there are really women out there like them. I'd like to be like them. Little Dorrit was gorgeous, a beautiful love story in many guises, running mainly in the theme of forgiveness and acceptance.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julie Davis

    Listening to Anton Lesser's superb narration, courtesy of review audiobook via SFFaudio.com. ========== Casting around for something to listen to but in a weird frame of mind ... I began trying out books read by some of my favorite LibriVox readers, as well as those recommended in the comments. Then I got to Mil Nicholson who reads Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. I have been longing to read it for some time. And I fell in love. Her reading is simply superb. It also is wonderfully supplemented by Listening to Anton Lesser's superb narration, courtesy of review audiobook via SFFaudio.com. ========== Casting around for something to listen to but in a weird frame of mind ... I began trying out books read by some of my favorite LibriVox readers, as well as those recommended in the comments. Then I got to Mil Nicholson who reads Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens. I have been longing to read it for some time. And I fell in love. Her reading is simply superb. It also is wonderfully supplemented by my reading the print copy. This allows for a slow, rich reading, which is not my usual style at all but which I am enjoying very much. I also love rediscovering all the things I love about Charles Dickens, especially the way he slips bits of humor into his writing. Its funny because its true.He had a certain air of being a handsome man--which he was not; and a certain air of being a well-bred man--which he was not. It was mere swagger and challenge; but in this particular, as in many others, blustering assertion goes for proof, half over the world. I also want to mention that I have become a fan of Modern Library publishers. Their books are inexpensive but nicely flexible to stay open at the page I'm reading. The typesize is pleasing. And so forth. FINAL Having just finished the book I find that I have been associating it with Middlemarch more than with Dickens' other books. Perhaps that is because Little Dorrit adds a gentle touch of domesticity wherever she goes. More likely it is because it is hard to pigeonhole Dickens from one book to the next. What a genius. I am so happy that I have so many of his books yet to read as shiny, "new" discoveries.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Manray9

    Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit is an intricate tale with a wide cast of characters, each leading a seemingly separate life, who become interwoven in a story contrasting the poverty of social prominence with the wealth of a commonplace life. Prison, both physical and social, is a recurrent theme. Some critics and scholars consider it among Dickens' finest novels. I disagree. Little Dorrit is representative of the author's later, darker period of literary output, and as such suffers from an overly Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit is an intricate tale with a wide cast of characters, each leading a seemingly separate life, who become interwoven in a story contrasting the poverty of social prominence with the wealth of a commonplace life. Prison, both physical and social, is a recurrent theme. Some critics and scholars consider it among Dickens' finest novels. I disagree. Little Dorrit is representative of the author's later, darker period of literary output, and as such suffers from an overly-emotional and gloomy atmosphere. The novel's narrative flow is undermined by excessive length, no doubt resulting from prolonged serialization. One hundred pages should have been cut – reducing it to a mere pygmy of eight hundred pages. Dickens devoted too much space to characters and story lines irrelevant to the novel's main threads. The roles of Miss Wade and Tattycoram were superfluous, as was the prolonged (yet hilarious) exposition on the Circumlocution Office and its family Barnacle. Despite its length, Dickens wrapped up the complex story in only the last seventy pages by using a calamitous event of "B movie" dimensions to resolve the enduring Clennam family mystery. According to John Holloway's introduction to this Penguin Classics edition of 1967, Dickens was preoccupied with “working the story round” to its conclusion. He should have worked it around some more. While steeped in social commentary, Little Dorrit is not lacking in distinctive Dickensian comic creations – such as Mrs. Plornish, Clarence Barnacle, Mr. Pancks, and Mr. F's aunt. These redeem it to a great extent and raise the novel to a Three Star ranking, but if a friend asked me for a recommendation of a Dickens novel, it wouldn't be Little Dorrit.

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