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Dickens - Little Dorritt
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roseisa



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 334
Location: CA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject: Dickens - Little Dorritt Reply with quote

I saw just a piece of this story on TCM with Derek Jacobi and Sarah Pickering. In just those few moments a glimpse of England's Debtors prison was revealed and very intriguing. Have you read the book or seen the mini series? Thoughts and opinions are appreciated... Cool
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 680

PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't read the book - apart from Oliver Twist at school, I've never actually read any Dickens. Embarassed
I watched most of the more recent BBC series with my fifteen year old daughter and we really enjoyed it. (That's not the Derek Jacobi version, but another one scripted by Andrew Davies). However, the BBC scheduled it in a strange way, so even though they repeated each episode I missed several, including the last episode.
I wouldn't let my daughter tell me what happened: I'll get the DVD out sometime and see - but when I came home she seemed a bit ... ambivalent, or something about how it all turned out, so whether there's not a HEA, or whether it wasn't the HEA she was anticpating - I'm not sure. Perhaps she was just worrying about her maths homework Very Happy

When that series was launched, the publicity explained that Dickens' father was imprisoned for some time in a debtors prison: so you would imagine that those parts of the book would be absolutely true to life.

Here's a link to the BBC site for the more recent series http://www.bbc.co.uk/littledorrit/
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Trish B



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1281
Location: Mid-Atlantic, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:03 pm    Post subject: Re: Dickens - Little Dorritt Reply with quote

roseisa wrote:
I saw just a piece of this story on TCM with Derek Jacobi and Sarah Pickering. In just those few moments a glimpse of England's Debtors prison was revealed and very intriguing. Have you read the book or seen the mini series? Thoughts and opinions are appreciated... Cool



I came across this as well over the weekend and quickly realized that I was seeing about the last half hour and just as quickly changed the channel so I wouldn't spoil it for the more recent version which I've been watching. (and sorry, MMcA I don't think it is going to be a traditional HEA from what little I saw).

I've never read any of Dickens' books either but I have enjoyed the adaptations they've shown here in the US this year. I really enjoyed OLIVER TWIST and thought the entire cast really did a great job. I wasn't that wild about DAVID COPPERFIELD. It just wasn't as compelling to me. I LOVED both adaptations of BLEAK HOUSE that Masterpiece Theatre has shown over the years, the more recent one being a bit better than the first. As for LITTLE DORRIT, I've been enjoying it, if at times a bit confused. But as the story moves along some of the confusion is clearing and some associations are beginning to make sense. I just love Mr Pankes - what a character!
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roseisa



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 334
Location: CA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I ordered the 1987 version from amazon.uk and it comes with the book! The reviews are outstanding for this version. I'll let you know later what I think of Mr. Pankes....... Cool
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1669

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 10:12 pm    Post subject: Re: Dickens - Little Dorritt Reply with quote

Trish B wrote:

I just love Mr Pankes - what a character!


I've read all of Dickens' novels, and one of the reasons I loved them (some more than others, of course) was his ability to make almost all of his characters come alive as individuals. Oddly enough, he seemed to have the hardest time with his heroines, all too many of whom are fairly flat. Lizzie Hexam, from Our Mutual Friend, his last completed novel, is one of the few exceptions.

One of the reasons Mr. Pankes is so great in the recent mini-series is that he's played by Eddie Marsan. I first saw him in the recent Mike Leigh movie, where he played the driving instructor. A very different kind of character from the Dickens, but he managed to make the man both frightening and poignant.
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Shar0n



Joined: 18 Feb 2009
Posts: 47

PostPosted: Wed Apr 15, 2009 10:17 pm    Post subject: Re: Dickens - Little Dorritt Reply with quote

Susan/DC wrote:
Oddly enough, he seemed to have the hardest time with his heroines, all too many of whom are fairly flat.


That's exactly what I thought! Although I've read only one Dickens - David Copperfield, in my early teens and cried buckets for the young David watching the 3 adaptations recently, I have the impression that most of his women characters (not just the heroines) seem quite one-dimensional: She's either a suffering saint, a delicate beauty, an insufferable fool, or a bitter old woman, etc. (It almost seems to me that Dickens had unresolved issues with the roles of women.) Although each woman is different from the other, thus making the entire cast colorful, each character herself seems to have one defining trait only. Since I prefer characters that exhibit multiple traits and are more gray than black-and-white, I find myself not particularly care for his work. Or am I misled by the adaptations?
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Trish B



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm no Dickens scholar by any means, but the impression I get is that he had issues with his mother (Mrs Clennam, anyone?) and it seems his ideal woman was the "English Rose" type. Quiet, delicate, calm. According to the intro Laura Linney stated that he came to hate his wife (though they had ten children!) and admired her two sisters who, apparently, never married and who doted on him. The character of Flora, Mr Clennam's youthful crush, was based on his wife. I've seen some refer to Dickens as a misogynist, but I don't think I'd go that far.
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Lynda X



Joined: 05 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This week's New Yorker has a fascinating article about debtors' prison and financial laws in the past in England and in the US. For example, I never knew that when you were imprisoned in debtors' prison, you had to pay your for your own food, bed, etc. because the burden of your imprisonment should not be on the public. If you were a criminal, on the other hand, they were provided. The argument was to make imprisonment so awful for debtors that they would raise the money, somehow. And the article says that such a fear was a very effective preventative. And their families lived with them because they had no where else to go. Can you imagine?
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roseisa



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 334
Location: CA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lynda X
Quote:
I never knew that when you were imprisoned in debtors' prison, you had to pay your for your own food, bed,etc


Me either, after watching the 1987 version, yes people in the Marshall had to pay for their room, food and any amenities. By the way Mr. Pankes was wonderful, very smart, conscientious. I'll have to watch the movie again and again. Sarah Pickering was a perfect Amy Dorritt, small as fit her name, intelligent, compassionate, dedicated to her family - a great heroine Cool
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 20, 2009 4:21 pm    Post subject: Social Commentary Reply with quote

According to Laura Linney's commentary before last night's episode of "Little Dorrit", Dickens was protesting more than just the injustice of the prison system for debtors. He was also incensed at the horrors of the Crimean War, where so many soldiers died of malnutrition and illness and just plain mismanagement in the upper ranks of the army and the government. The self-serving bureaucracy is perfectly captured in The Circumlocution Office.
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Trish B



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the final episode ran last night and it was a doozy! I was soooo glad to see Mr Casby get what he deserved, that hypocrite. I haven't read the book, so I have to ask those who have, did Daniel Doyce really make his fortune in Russia and save the day for Mr Clennam or was that done to have a nice HEA?
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Susan/DC



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:54 pm    Post subject: Another Question Reply with quote

I got distracted near the end and it's been so long since I read it my memory of the details isn't good, so I'd appreciate it if someone could explain the relationships that were revealed at the end. I understand that Arthur is the child of Mr. Clennam and an actress who died at his birth (I think) and not Mrs. Clennam, but what was the issue about Amy Dorrit and why did Mr. Clennam's father leave her money in his will?
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Trish B



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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I had some problems following this too, and here's what I think happened. I believe that actually Amy was the child of Mr Clennam and the dancer/actress whatever she was and that Arthur was some other woman's child (no idea whose) and that Mrs. Clennam did some sort of baby-swap, possibly to get a son and possibly to just get Mr Clennam's bastard away from her. I agree this could have been explained much better and I was quite confused by this part.
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roseisa



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll try to explain the baby swapping thing with the following research I've done and spell correctly Dorrit for a change :)

Mrs. Clennam had learned, after Mr. Clennam's marriage to her (a marriage commanded by his overbearing uncle), that her husband had loved and gone through a sort of ceremony with a beautiful young singer whom Frederick Dorrit, a kind-hearted musician (the uncle of Little Dorrit), was befriending and giving an education. She had obtained the first clue from those initials in her husband's watch which she found years ago, signifying "Do Not Forget." She accused both her husband and the woman who put the initials there.

"I said to her," declared Mrs. Clennam, "`You have a child; I have none. You love that child. Give him to me and swear never again to see his father. Then I will support you and not expose your shame. And I will reclaim the otherwise lost boy.'"

Thus it had been that Arthur came into the Clennam home. Arthur was Clennam's bastard.

Mrs. Clennam withheld "know then that I suppressed a part of the will of my husband's uncle "-the part in which that uncle had revealed the maternity of Arthur and had left, as a repentant compensation, a legacy to Arthur's mother and to the niece (Little Dorrit) of the man who had befriended her-"but I found that niece of Frederick Dorrit and what I did for her was better for her far than the money."

So Amy was to receive an inheritance from Clennam's uncle, but in the end she chose not to accept it because she didn't want Arthur hurt and lost the inheritance. Cool
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 9:38 pm    Post subject: Little Dorrit Reply with quote

roseisa wrote:

So Amy was to receive an inheritance from Clennam's uncle, but in the end she chose not to accept it because she didn't want Arthur hurt and lost the inheritance. Cool


Thank you for the explanation. As for the bit about Amy not accepting the inheritance because she didn't want to hurt Arthur's pride, this is a fairly common occurrence in older stories. Drives me crazy -- a man who isn't strong enough to deal with a wealthy wife isn't hero material to me. It's one reason I liked Mr. Thornton in Gaskell's North & South: he accepted Margaret's loan because he had the confidence to understand that using her money to re-establish his business did not demean him in any way.
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