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Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Charles Dickens
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

25 Sep 2003 Penguin Classics

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.

Frequently Bought Together

Little Dorrit (Penguin Classics) + The Old Curiosity Shop (Wordsworth Classics) + David Copperfield (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (25 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439969
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,951 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


One of the most glorious achievements of publishing in our time --The Daily Telegraph

It will never be more possible for a more complete and perfect edition to be put on the market --Arthur Waugh, Past President, Dickens Fellowship

It will never be more possible for a more complete and perfect edition to be put on the market --Arthur Waugh, Past President, Dickens Fellowship --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

An important addition to the Everyman Dickens series --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Thirty years ago, Marseilles' lay burning in the sun, one day. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 21 May 2008
From its first publication in book form after the serialisation, Little Dorrit has always proved to be a good seller. So why has this book always been so popular? For whole segments Amy 'Little' Dorrit does not even appear. The novel covers so much more than the title implies.

Little Dorrit is born in the Marshalsea, where her father is imprisoned for debt. Eventually he is released at the end of book one, when he comes into an inheritance. For Mr Dorrit this leads to paranoia that people are talking behind his back or laughing at him due to his former poverty. Poor little Dorrit finds it difficult to change her ways and is still a ministering angel to all and sundry.

What really stands out in this book are the locations, as the story travels from London through France, Switzerland and Italy. This is the most widespread geographically of any of Dickens' novels. Also this book probably has the most sub-plots of any Dickens novel, with mention of murder and smuggling, to actual acts of corruption and suicide, to love, marriages and death. Mrs Clennam tries to keep a family secret buried but is being blackmailed, and is her house haunted or is there a more rational explanation?

As to be expected with Dickens there are some great characters and some good comedy. Anyone who has ever had any dealings with govermental departments can really appreciate the Circumloction Office, and its practices. A few of the illustrations in this book are some of the very best to appear in any of his novels.

This is a must read book, that with so many things going on throughout will keep you absorbed for hours, and that you will want to read again.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit 18 Jun 2009
Format:Audio CD
A vivid and detailed tale of Victorian England, which has many similarities to present day Britain. A really masterful story by Charles Dickens, graphically narrated by Anton Lesson, another master of his profession. It has more than 10 hours of story, ideal for a long car journey or enlightening another pile of ironing or a long winter's evening. We wholeheartedly recommend it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American spellings 22 Feb 2009
I was a bit put-off by a previous review that claims that this book has been changed to american spellings but went ahead and got it anyway as I thought that the illustrations were worth it (they are). I have found that the book has not been americanised (just opened it at random to page 362 and almost the first word I see is 'endeavour' - english version. It does conntain some olde english spellings, eg trousers is spelt as trowsers (not pants).
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dickens at what he does best! 20 Nov 2008
Little Dorrit is a prime example of Dickens' weighty descriptive style and his genius for observation and characterisation. It also, perhaps unusually for Dickens, has a semi-coherent story line.
The book chronicles the respective fortunes of the title heroine, a young women caring for her incarcerated father in the Marshalsea Prison, and Mr Arthur Clennam, a kindly businessman returned lately from the east, who becomes obsessed with the idea that his father was responsible for the Dorrit families woes. An entrie host of characters, good and bad, amusing and obnoxious, accompany the main protagonists on their mysteriously intertwined journeys. The only fault I can find is with the tale's finale, when it seems Dickens grows tired of the story, not actually having a great twist for the climax, and bumps off many of his characters before ending with a rather predictable chocolate tin finish. However, your sense of achievment at having penetrated deeper into the world of Dickens, meeting memorable heroes and villains will probably overcome any misgivings on this score. The scene where Mr Pancks cuts the patriarch's hair is pure genius and the petulant Mr Dorrit, Flora Casby and her objectionable Aunt are another constant stream of entertainment.
Apart from the moral that money will not buy you happiness, Dickens also used this book to launch a scathing criticism against the government and society of the time, represented by the infamous Circumlocution Office and a certain affluent couple named Merdle.
An excellent read for all those who have a reasonable grasp of the English language or have enjoyed other Dickens books.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit 24 Jan 2009
By chup
A truly superb story and a must for everyone,whether a fan of Dickens or not
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit 1 Feb 2009
For me, a great book, Dickens' meticulous attention to detail sets the plot and through the book the story line develops, sub plot within plot. I enjoyed the book very much, as I have all dickens' books I've read. SMB
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good on characterisation poor on plot 9 Nov 2008
Warning: this review contains spoilers.

The major strengths of the novel are its characters and atmosphere. Every character is sharply drawn, we can visualise them in our mind's eye; Dickens has the ability to invest each of them with their own distinctive speech patterns. He can also create atmosphere whether it be describing the Marshalsea or the interior of Mrs Clennam's house. He is wonderful at creating a scene, of placing his characters in that scene and exploring the interaction of each.

The weakness of the novel is its plot. It never really gains momentum and there is always a sense of stasis, of things about to develop, but never doing so. We are presented with a series of tableaux and then, suddenly, something happens with no relation to anything that has gone before. Much is left unexplained; we are never told what Doyce's invention actually is, we are given no clue as to the nature of Merdle's financial dealings, his downfall just happens. The Dorrits suddenly become rich halfway through the novel. It dosen't convince.

A warning about this Penguin edition. For some inexplicable reason, American spellings are used throughout (eg 'honor' instead of 'honour'). I am not sure why this has been done and as certain Victorian spellings are also used, it makes even less sense. Some readers may find this annoying and would prefer to read a different edition.

A bonus of the Penguin edition, though, is the inclusion of the original illustrations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Published 3 days ago by NMac
5.0 out of 5 stars Need to read it again!!
Confusing at times but beautifully written. Surprisingly some of it is very contemporary.

Was Little Dorrit too much of a goody??
Published 9 days ago by Poppy
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Good Dickens book.
Published 11 days ago by Smiler
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 15 days ago by Bex
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
It downloaded ok but as yet I have not had time to read it
Published 29 days ago by j i wiggett
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit
Love the story but very hard to understand the way in which the book is written. But you do get the gist of it as you read. You have to understand the old way of speaking.
Published 1 month ago by Polly
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorritt
It was in very good condition which was good as it was for a birthday present . I know the contents as I've already read and enjoyed it .
Published 2 months ago by Pamela Bird
3.0 out of 5 stars a happy ending at last
There were the usual unexpected deaths from a Dickens but only people we didn't mind popping off.
A great insight into the Marshalsea.
Published 2 months ago by Geoff
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Dorrit - a good read
It takes a while to get into it and the number of characters is challenging but once you get past this, it's 'laugh out loud' in places and keeps you wanting to know what's going... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Margaret
5.0 out of 5 stars Dickens re-appraisall
having not read this book for some time,I thought a re-aquaintance was overdue.Am I glad that I decided on this course,as I have now come to value and appreciate its contents more... Read more
Published 3 months ago by robert britton
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