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Little Dorrit is a serial novel by Charles Dickens published originally between 1855 and 1857. It is a work of satire on the shortcomings of the government and society of the period.
Much of Dickens' ire is focused upon the institutions of debtor's prisons—in which people who owed money were imprisoned, unable to work, until they repaid their debts. The representative prison in this case is the Marshalsea where the author's own father had been imprisoned.
Most of Dickens' other critiques in this particular novel are about other issues with regards to the social safety net: industry, and the treatment and safety of workers; the bureaucracy of the British government's ministries (especially the fictional "Circumlocution Office" [Bk. 1, Ch. 10]); and the separation of people based on the lack of intercourse between the classes.
The plot revolves around the characters of Little Dorrit, whose father is imprisoned in the Marshalsea for much of the novel, and of the businessman Arthur Clennam. As their love one for another grows, they suffer reversals of fortunes that follow them across Europe and back to England before the final resolution of this novel.
Little Dorrit, like most Dickens novels, was published in 19 monthly installments, each comprising 32 pages and two illustrations by Phiz. Each cost one shilling, with the exception of the last, double-issue, which cost two.
BOOK THE FIRST: POVERTY
- I - December 1855 (chapters 1-4);
- II - January 1856 (chapters 5-8);
- III - February 1856 (chapters 9-11);
- IV - March 1856 (chapters 12-14);
- V - April 1856 (chapters 15-18);
- VI - May 1856 (chapters 19-22);
- VII - June 1856 (chapters 23-25);
- VIII - July 1856 (chapters 26-29);
- IX - August 1856 (chapters 30-32);
- X - September 1856 (chapters 33-36).
BOOK THE SECOND: RICHES
- XI - October 1856 (chapters 1-4);
- XII - November 1856 (chapters 5-7);
- XIII - December 1856 (chapters 8-11);
- XIV - January 1857 (chapters 12-14);
- XV - February 1857 (chapters 15-18);
- XVI - March 1857 (chapters 19-22);
- XVII - April 1857 (chapters 23-26);
- XVIII - May 1857 (chapters 27-29);
- XIX-XX - June 1857 (chapters 30-34).
- Little Dorrit, available freely at Project Gutenberg
- Little Dorrit - Searchable HTML version.
- Little Dorrit - Easy to read HTML version.