Thursday, February 12, 2015

Little Dorrit

I like the bricks and chains motif...
Little Dorrit, by Charles Dickens

Firstly: Dorrit is a last name.  Little Dorrit's first name is Amy.  I am probably the last person on the Internet to figure this out, but because I have actually known someone named Dorrit, and always think of it as a first name, I was quite surprised to find out otherwise.

Little Dorrit was born in Marshalsea Prison, for her father, a gentleman, is imprisoned for debt.  Most of the inmates get out sooner or later, but not Mr. Dorrit; his affairs are too complex and the amount too large for an easy solution.  So he simply lives there for 22 years, keeping up a pathetic insistence that he is a gentleman and his children should not work for a living.  Little Dorrit is the youngest and most sensitive of his children, and she works very hard to keep and comfort her selfish father.  Arthur Clennam, meanwhile, is a businessman who finds himself interested in Little Dorrit's welfare.  And then we're off on one of those twisty Dickens plots--adventure, intrigue, and strange coincidences await! 

This being a Dickens novel, we have a Cast of Thousands, many of whom are very quirky or eccentric, and a lot of subplots.  We've got the nice Meagles, their pretty but somewhat unfortunate daughter Pet, and their fiery and dissatisfied maidservant, Tattycoram (who has a very interesting plotline of her own).  The Merdles, wealthy and cold.  The frightening murderer on the run and the nice little Italian man who lives in fear of him.  Arthur's bizarre mother and household.  Even a secret twin!  One of my favorites was Clennam's former love, whom he was not allowed to marry.  The scene where they meet again for the first time in twenty years is a hoot, and I became very fond of Flora.

The story stays in London (especially Southwark, in the neighborhood of the Marshalsea) for the first half, but the second half goes travelling all the way to France and Italy.

I quite enjoyed Little Dorrit, and would like to see the TV series, but since I hardly ever get around to watching things like that it might be a while.  I am not good at TV these days.  I am finding, though, that Dickens is not my favorite.  He is fine and good, but reading an 800-page Dickens novel is a slightly daunting prospect when compared with reading a similar amount of Trollope, who I am finding to be more truly enjoyable.

Marshalsea Prison  (it's long gone now)

Since Little Dorrit is exclusively set in London and Southwark as far as England goes, it will count for London.

3 comments:

cleopatra said...

I've found that I prefer Trollope to Dickens too. I can admire Dickens for certain aspects of his writing but not enough overall to really wow me.

I started reading through Dickens' works chronologically and hit a wall with Bleak House. I don't know why because it's supposed to be a great book but at the time, enough was enough. I think Fanda's having a read-along of it this year so then it will be time to pick it up again.

Jean said...

There is such a thing as enough Dickens. I don't think I could just read one after the other!

Lily Manette said...

I have Little Dorrit on my shelves, waiting to be read. Thing is I just can't bring myself to do so. I prefer Zola to Dickens. Have yet to read Trollope though.