Little Dorrit Paperback
Edited by Helen Small, Stephen Wall
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.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 1024 pages, illustrations, notes
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Publication Date: 25/09/2003
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780141439969
Showing 1 - 5 of 10 reviews.
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Review by wisewoman
Review by Smiley
A decided Dickens masterpiece. Compelling but it bogs a bit in the middle (Italy) and it suffers from a few of the Great One's particular flaws. On the whole I liked Bleak House better and this is just a slight cut above Our Mutual Friend.
Review by jwhenderson
It is a rather mixed bag of mystery and intrigue between characters both well-off and not. The theme of prisons and imprisonment permeates this book with the title character residing with her family in the infamous "Marshalsea" prison for the first part of the book. The main plot is focused on the efforts of Arthur Clennam to assist Little (Amy) Dorrit's family in paying their debts so as to escape the prison and Arthur's own quest to solve the mystery of his family & identity. The Dorrits succeed in leaving the prison due to discovered inheritance. The novel moves on to the second part and advancement of the love interests of several characters along with new developments in the life of Arthur. One of Dickens most complicated tales, the novel has several "shady" characters that create difficult situations. Moreover Dickens demonstrates some of his most effective satire in the description of the Circumlocution Office and its administrators, the predatory Barnacles. This novel exhibits some of the characteristic traits for which Dickens is famous, including a plethora of characters, atmospheric descriptions and a somewhat convoluted plot line. While exhibiting these traits it also has two of the most decent and truly good protagonists (if not hero and heroine) in all of the Dickens which I have read. That Arthur Clennam and Little Dorrit (Amy) finally join together in wedded bliss is a consummation not unexpected and certainly deserved. Arthur has survived his 'quest' for identity and understanding and while not entirely successful he has reached a point from which he can satisfactorily go forward with his life and with his Amy.For this reader the novel was both satisfying and perturbing. The continual railing against the Circumlocution Office and skewering of debtors' prisons with the 'Marshalsea' was not convincing and the weakness of the plot undermined the quality of the novel. However, the fecundity of curious and wonderful characters who consistently charmed and challenged the reader with their psychological complexity helped to overcome all other weaknesses. And this is the great strength of Dickens as a novelist which he demonstrates again and again as he continues to increase his mastery of this literary form.
Review by firebird013
The complex structure of this book adds to its power; when a good man falls on hard times in a merciless world, who will help him? Little Dorrit is wonderful creation by Dickens who enters the heart; a moving book about friendship, courtship and greed. The evocation of the debtor's prison in London is masterful.
Review by joshberg
As a recent Guardian article pointed out, the financial skullduggery at the heart of all the misery here eerily foreshadows our current economic predicament. I read this one serially over a few months, and enjoyed that rhythm, though I had some quibbles with the plot (most notably Mrs. Clennam's fiddly grand revelation towards the end, which one has to read twice to understand and thus lose the dramatic moment). The novel didn't make as much of an impression on me as Bleak House, but I felt it was on a par with Great Expectations--wonderful language, characterization, dialogue, and sly humor. Lovely final, bittersweet Dickensian line: "They went quietly down into the roaring streets, inseparable and blessed; and as they passed along in sunshine and shade, the noisy and the eager, and the arrogant and the froward and the vain, fretted, and chafed, and made their usual uproar."
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