That said, however, I am far from being in the position of a person who could truthfully hang this poster. Life is really quite pleasant and not the least of its pleasures is that I have been reading Dickens rather incessantly when time permits. I scored a used copy of Little Dorrit some weeks ago, and have been enjoying it very much. This is the first time I have had the pleasure of reading a Dickens book (okay, a full-size Dickens book--I did enjoy The Cricket on the Hearth last year) which had not already been hinted at, or entirely disclosed by a movie (parentheses continue--the BBC did a miniseries but I haven't seen it) or the deep, quotable marks on popular culture that the like of Nicholas Nickelby, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, or Great Expectations have left. It's loads of fun to truly be allowed to guess what might be coming next, and not just enjoy the ride, everyone and his uncle having already disclosed the denouement.
It's too early to say how I like the book as a whole (no book, no matter how it might end, or what tortuous ways it might take to reach an end can be called wasted if part of it has been used to introduce that alarming creature known only as Mr. F's Aunt), but as always, Dickens shows a flair for reveling in words as the following quotes should suggest:
The house was very close, and had an unwholesome smell. The little staircase windows looked in at the back-windows of other houses as unwholesome as itself, with poles and lines thrust out of them, on which unsightly linen hung; as if the inhabitants were angling for clothes, and had some wretched bites not worth attending to. (Chapter 9)
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There was a grave clock ticking somewhere up the staircase; and there was a songless bird in the same direction, pecking at his cage as if he were ticking too. The parlour fire ticked in the grate. There was only one person at the parlour hearth, and the loud watch in his pocket ticked audibly. (Chapter 13)
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His smooth face had a bloom upon it like ripe wall-fruit. What with his blooming face, and that head, and his blue eyes, he seemed to be delivering sentiments of rare wisdom and virtue. In like manner, his physiognomical expression seemed to teem with benignity. Nobody could have said where the wisdom was, or where the virtue was, or where the benignity was; but they all seemed to be somewhere about him.
'Those times, however,' pursued Mr. Casby, 'are past and gone, past and gone. I do myself the pleasure of making a visit to your respected mother occasionally, and of admiring the fortitude and strength of mind with which she bears her trials, bears her trials.'
When he made one of these little repetitions, sitting with his hands crossed before him, he did it with his head on one side and a gentle smile, as if he had something in his thoughts too sweetly profound to be put into words. As if he denied himself the pleasure of uttering it, lest he should soar to high; and his meekness, therefore, preferred to be unmeaning. (Chapter 13)
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. . .Mrs. Clennam, speaking in one unmodulated hard voice, and separating her words as distinctly as if she were reading them off from separate bits of metal that she took up one by one. . .(Chapter 15)
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Of articles collected on his various expeditions, there was such a vast miscellany that it was like the dwelling of an amiable Corsair. (Chapter 16)
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[Backstage in a theatre] At last they came into a maze of dust, where a quantity of people were tumbling over one another, and where there was such a confusion of unaccountable shapes of beams, bulk-heads, brick walls, ropes, and rollers, and such a mixing of gas-light and daylight, that they seemed to have got on the wrong side of the pattern of the universe. (Chapter 20)