'You talk very easily of hours, sir! How long do you suppose, sir, that an hour is
to a man who is choking for want of air?'
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 the Marshalsea. 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.
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