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- The companion to Little Dorrit / | University of Toronto Libraries
Their mother is dead. The children are free to pass in and out of the prison as they please.
Little Dorrit, devoted to her father, supports them both through her sewing. Mrs Clennam, though arthritic and wheelchair-bound, still runs the family business with the help of her servant Jeremiah Flintwinch and his downtrodden wife Affery. When Arthur learns that Mrs Clennam employs Little Dorrit as a seamstress, showing her unusual kindness, he wonders whether the young girl might be connected with the mystery of the watch. Suspecting his mother is partially responsible for the misfortunes of the Dorrits, Arthur follows the girl to the Marshalsea.
He vainly tries to inquire about William Dorrit's debt in the poorly run Circumlocution Office, assuming the role of benefactor towards Little Dorrit, her father, and her brother.
While at the Circumlocution Office he meets the struggling inventor Daniel Doyce, whom he decides to help by going into business with him. At last, aided by the indefatigable rent-collector and researcher Pancks, Arthur discovers that William Dorrit is the lost heir to a large fortune, enabling him to pay his way out of prison. The newly released and wealthy Dorrits decide that they should tour Europe as a newly respectable rich family.
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They travel over the Alps and take up residence for a time in Venice, and finally in Rome, displaying an air of conceit over their new-found wealth. Little Dorrit is not so impressed by their wealth.
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Eventually, after a spell of delirium, William Dorrit dies as does his distraught elder brother Frederick, a kind-hearted musician who has always stood by him. Little Dorrit, left alone, returns to London to stay with newly married Fanny and her husband, the foppish and dim-witted Edmund Sparkler. The classic, definitive, world-famous Nonesuch Press edition of , finally available again and bound in leather and linen.
The text in these stunning volumes is taken from the Chapman and Hall edition, which became known as the Charles Dickens edition and was the last edition to be corrected by the author himself. The Nonesuch Dickens reproduces the original elegance of these beautiful editions.
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Books are printed on natural cream-shade high quality stock, quarter bound in bonded leather with cloth sides, include a ribbon marker, and feature special printed endpapers. Each volume is wrapped in a protective, clear acetate jacket. The books are available as individual volumes, or as sets.
Of the complex, richly rewarding masterworks he wrote in the last decade of his life, Little Dorrit is the book in which Charles Dickens most fully unleashed his indignation at the fallen state of mid-Victorian society. Crammed with persons and incidents in whose recreation nothing is accidental or spurious, containing, in its picture of the Circumlocution Office, the most witheringly exact satire of a bureaucracy we possess, Little Dorrit is a stunning example of how thoroughly Dickens could put his flair for the theatrical and his comic genius the service of his passion for justice.
The Companion also uses a newly-discovered Dickens letter to shed light on Tattycoram, the girl from the Foundling Home employed by the Meagles. Of The Companion to Little Dorrit. Especially helpful is the introduction, which explains that events that underlie the novel, particularly the national debate over the Crimean War. The pages of annotations to specific passages identify allusions and clarify any matter that a modern reader might find obscure.
There are 33 illustrations, mainly of places used as settings in the novel and of people thought to have inspired the characters in the novel. This volume is packed with information concerning anything one might want to know about the novel; it is an indispensable tool for every serious student of Dickens.
Summing Up: Essential.
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Lower-division undergraduates through researchers and faculty. Apart from their literary appeal, Dickens's novels have always exerted a powerful historical interest, with works such as Bleak House often being regarded, by scholars and enthusiasts alike, as windows on the nineteenth century. Dickens actively indulges this kind of interest, because he himself was always fascinated by contemporary issues, by the look of London, its changing surface, and by the myriad fleeting forms of material reality.
Hence it seems entirely natural for Trey Philpotts to have spent pages supplying historical annotations to Little Dorrit in this, the ninth volume of the Dickens companion series; such scholarly indulgence could well have appeared a little obsessive in relation to other writers, but in Dickens's case, it seems entirely appropriate. Extensive explanatory notes are especially rewarding with respect to Little Dorrit because of all Dickens's novels it is the one most deeply saturated in the social and political issues of the time.
There is the historical background relating to debtors' prisons, which Philpotts explores in great detail, incorporating numerous extracts from government reports and prisoners' testimonies, as well as an ground plan of the Marshalsea. He also supplies a significant body of material relating to the Crimean War, financial speculation and government incompetence in the s, material that sheds important new light on some of the novel's more polemical elements. Separating the strands that made up Dickens's satirical representation of the Circumlocution Office, Philpotts discriminates between the Chelsea Board and the Sebastopol Committee, between civil service reform and administrative reform, and between various committees and boards of inquiry that were distinct, though contemporaneous.
He also shows how, after the end of the Crimean debacle, Dickens's emphasis changed, with his satire on the Barnacle clan shifting from war-related issues to free trade, harvests, bleaching-factory legislation and ministerial spin-doctoring.
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But most of this book has very little to do with the novel's main themes, being given over to divers little factual notes and anecdotes inspired by stray lines in Dickens's text. Many of these notes are very full, supplying a wealth of information on green tea, black tea, monocles, gout, barrel-organs, Billingsgate, Hackney coaches and slang.
Some of the more quixotic elements of this labour of love are helpfully offset by a very good index, which makes it relatively easy to revisit even the most apparently arcane of references, and by extensive cross-referencing to other works by Dickens and his contemporaries. With this in mind, it seems perfectly possible to imagine this book being extremely useful to all manner of Victorianists, quite independently of its connection with Little Dorrit. Explanatory annotation therefore presents a formidable challenge, in terms both of the research required and the tactical decisions to be made about how much actually needs annotating.
The companion to Little Dorrit / | University of Toronto Libraries
In relation to the latter problem the Companion Series has risked erring on the side of excessive annotation. Trey Philpotts has been working on this project for many years. The fourth doorway would actually have led to the accommodation reserved for female debtors only.
Where, how and why does Dickens deviate from the historical records? Should we be chiding him for his anachronisms, remembering that Little Dorrit was supposedly set in the s?