Little Dorrit is one of the three great novels of Dickens’ great last period, but of the three it is perhaps the least established with modern readers. When it first appeared — in monthly parts from December 1855 to June 1857 — its success was even more decisive than that of Bleak House, but the suffrage of later audiences has gone the other way, and of all Dickens’ later works it is Bleak House that has come to be the best known. As for Our Mutual Friend, after having for some time met with adverse critical opinion among the enlightened — one recalls that the youthful Henry James attacked it for standing in the way of art and truth — it has of recent years been regarded with ever-growing admiration. But Little Dorrit seems to have retired to the background and shadow of our consciousness of Dickens.
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