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on 29 January 2016
Out of all the editions of Little Dorrit available in Kindle Edition, I chose to review this one, because it's illustrated with original engravings that were commissioned by Dickens himself. One other edition also includes "illustrations" that turned out to be classical paintings that have nothing to do with the story. Quite a few Kindle editions of classics do that. I don't know why; the original illustrations to many of them are available on Wikimedia Commons for free download. Anyway, there's nothing like reading a classic with illustrations that follow what the writer him/herself imagined. And, this edition includes a detailed life of Charles Dickens by Thomas Seccombe, and an introduction with interpretations of Dickens' characterisation and plot by Edwin Percy Whipple. Both were famous writers during Dickens' own time.

The book itself: It opens with one of the villains of the story, a convicted murder named Rigaud, describing to his cell-mate how he murdered his wife. When taken to a hearing, he apparently manages to talk his way out of it, and later goes free. I didn't call him THE villain, though he has the makings for it, because there's so much to the story that one single villain couldn't possibly threaten to bring it all down. In fact, the only one who is ultimately threatened by him at the climax of the story, could also be said to be one of the villains -- a typical DIckensian twist.

There is a lot to the story, so many villains, so many heroes, so many diverse characters with intertwining paths, and satire at its finest. Just a few of the elements:

The Office of Circumlocution is the great bureaucracy that must have its fingers in every pie. In the story, in Dickens' classic style, that's the official name for it. "Circumlocution" literally means to talk in circles, to over state something, to make a short story long. It means piles and piles of paperwork just to get a simple task accomplished, and months and months of waiting for approval. We still have such offices today.

Marshalsea debtors' prison is an institution that appears in many of Dickens' stories, beginning with Pickwick Papers. Dickens would know a lot about that, as his own father had been incarcerated there.

Then, there's Mr. Merdle, who is the man everybody loves, because he runs an investment scheme guaranteed to make everyone rich -- think, "bubble". That's only a few of the moving forces in the narrative.

William Dorrit is an aristocratic gentleman who fell on hard times, and has been in the Marshalsea debtors' prison for many years. He is highly respected by the other prisoners, and lives off contributions. He has three children, the youngest, Amy, the one referred to as "Little Dorrit", grew up there, and is now a young lady. She is one of the few in the story who has no pretensions.

One of the others with no pretensions, is Arthur Clennam, the other main character. There are a few other noble characters: such as the Meagles family; Daniel Royce the inventor, who's project is being held up by the Office of Circumlocution; Pancks, the debt collector, who looks at first like he could be one of the villains (he's collecting debts, isn't he), but is actually a hero in his simple way; and more.

The story is in two parts: William Dorrit in the great Marshalsea prison, and William Dorrit after the tide has turned, out of Marshalsea prison living the good life. We see how perceptions and attitudes change for all but Little Dorrit. If anything, she's more miserable in the second half, not allowed to just be herself. Through both parts, there are so many sub plots, which I've only scratched the surface, but Dickens masterfully ties them all together in a thoroughly satisfying way.
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on 17 March 2017
This arrived yesterday and I am a bit daunted by the size of it so it will take me some time to read it. However, all of Dickens books which I read years and years ago were very enjoyable so I think this will be too. Wwith thanks.
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on 17 May 2017
Loved this. A classic Dickens. Though a bit more difficult to understand and get into than his other novels I've read.
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on 19 May 2017
Excellent seller gr8 product
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on 5 April 2017
After reading the children's version of Little Dorris, the actual text opens up the story in beautiful text, with some humour and more than a little pathos. It makes good reading. The original is overlong, but palitable.
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on 14 March 2013
not the easiest of reads, with Dickens' style of endless digressions, but well worth the effort.. It helps knowing the story from the tv adaptation.
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on 14 October 2016
This is really interesting book ,liked it a lot. I would like to recommend this book to all my friends.
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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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on 17 March 2017
I enjoyed reading the book although I sometimes found difficulties in following the story. I would recommend reading this classic book.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 26 August 2013
This is prime Dickens, so must merit five stars even if it is a novel which typifies the virtues of and failings of Dickens' maturity. A work clearly springing from the author's deepest fears and concerns, it is exceptionally diffuse and prolix, sufficient to provoke the despair of his admirers and the grim satisfaction of his (few) detractors. There is barely enough plot or incident to cover nearly eight hundred pages and some of the chapters where Dickens gives vent to his frustration with the interminable procrastination, otiose bureaucracy and ingrained tribal structure in the machineries of government and the Civil Service, are decidedly superfluous, for all their magnificent scorn; sometimes the author wears his satirical hat too long.

This is Dickens exorcising two demons: his engrained terror of debt and imprisonment, springing from his childhood experience as the child of Mr Micawber and his loathing for the self-serving Establishment. It is worth pointing out that the debtors' prisons had long been closed when this novel was written so this is not in any crude sense a "reform" novel but must be viewed more subtly as a work which exploits imprisonment as a metaphor, whereby many of the characters are "locked in" to a wretched existence and seek freedom and redemption.

As ever, the result is some immortal and fantastic creations: the Circumlocution Office is an institution to match the workings of Chancery - another institution which was in fact in the process of reforming itself just as the novel was being written - in "Bleak House". There is not perhaps the wealth of striking or comic characters one expects in a Dickens novel although many still approach the immortal. Flora, "the relict of Mt Flinching" with her wholly punctuation-free logorrhoea is almost a caricature of Dickens' own style which at times is so convoluted and high-flown as to puzzle the most diligent of readers.

The hero and heroine are scarcely that: both are in many ways poor creatures but they preserve their integrity intact and are properly rewarded as must be in the workings out of Dickens' moral universe. Arthur Clennam seeks an outlet for the emotional void resulting from his loveless upbringing by helping others, but must learn the humility of dependence and the gracious receipt of assistance. Little Dorrit herself suffers from the Fanny Price of "Mansfield Park" syndrome, in that she is for some "too good" (whatever that means) and her devotion to her selfish and feckless father, with his snobberies and delusions, is almost painful to read yet not necessarily implausible, given her circumstances.

Yet William Dorrit is no caricature: for me, the most affecting and in many ways terrible scene, is when he brutally repulses young John Chivery who dares to visit him, now wealthy, as he used to in his days of penury in the Marshalsea. The remorse and conflict in his soul as realisation of the turpitude of his demeanour towards Young John hits him, is so vividly depicted by Dickens:

"Mr. Dorrit was ashamed. He went back to the window, and leaned his forehead against the glass for some time. When he turned, he had his handkerchief in his hand, and he had been wiping his eyes with it, and he looked tired and ill."

Nothing elaborate or pretentious in the prose here; just plain, stark narrative.

Dickens once more displays his special gift for exploiting pathetic fallacy and extended images to enhance his presentation of character; thus the various, respective settings - the self-contained world of the debtors' prison, the decrepit Clennam house which eventually collapses like a pack of cards, the faded, crumbling glory of Venice - all act as mirrors of the characters' psyches and moral condition.

Of course the process of serialisation partially explains and vindicates the novel's etiolated nature. It takes so long for the flimsy plot strands to be knot that the subsequent necessary dénouement seems almost perfunctory and Dickens makes exceptional demands on the reader's patience, powers of concentration and recall. But this is Dickens the genius, and there's no other author like him.

P.S. and Spoiler Alert: one wonders if Dickens is signalling via a French pun on his name the moral properties of the arch-capitalist Merdle, ultimately revealed as "simply the greatest Forger and the greatest thief that ever cheated the gallows."
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