Little Dorrit

Literary significance and reception

Like much of Dickens' later fiction, this novel has seen many reversals of critical fortune. It has been shown to be a critique of HM Treasury and the blunders that led to the loss of life of 360 British soldiers at the Battle of Balaclava.[2] Imprisonment – both literal and figurative – is a major theme of the novel, with Clennam and the Meagles quarantined in Marseilles, Rigaud jailed for murder, Mrs. Clennam confined to her house, the Dorrits imprisoned in the Marshalsea, and most of the characters trapped within the rigidly defined English social class structure of the time.

Tchaikovsky, a voracious reader and theatre-goer when he was not composing, was entranced by the book, which he presumably read in Russian, French or German translation, and recommended it enthusiastically to his younger twin brothers Modest and Anatoly in his voluminous correspondence with them.

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