The Pickwick Club discussion

Little Dorrit
This topic is about Little Dorrit
13 views
Little Dorrit > Book II Chapters 01 - 04

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Tristram Shandy Dear Pickwickians,
This week we have finally arrived at the second Part of the novel, which is called “Riches” and which sees the Dorrit family in greatly altered circumstances. Chapter 1 of this second Part presents us to a bunch of “Fellow Travellers” in the Swiss Alps, and I could not help noticing the similarities to Chapter 2 of the first Part, which even bears the same title.

The narrator gives us the names of the various travellers at the very end of the chapter but with the exception of one especially diabolical traveller, they were easily identifiable to me, and that’s why I will use their names from the very beginning of this summary. The scene is a little monastery on the Pass of the Great Saint Bernard, where our travellers spend the night. We can quickly identify the Dorrits, who now travel in great style and with a large body of servants. The other three travellers of consequence are Mr. Gowan and his new wife Pet, and Mr. Blandois, who has struck up an acquaintance with the Gowans in Geneva. When waiting for supper, Edward Dorrit places himself in front of the chimney, whereupon Mr. Gowan makes a snide remark in order to make Tip aware of his inconsiderate behaviour, and as young Dorrit takes it very ill, we might assume that something might yet come of it. At the moment when Gowan and Edward fall, Pet suddenly faints, and Gowan tells the company that his wife incurred a bruise from a fall off her mule during the journey. Fanny has her maid see to Pet, and she is brought into her room.

During the meal, Mr. Blandois – here referred to as “the insinuating traveller” – and Mr. Gowan entertain the company with various remarks on the lonesomeness of the place, on St. Bernard dogs and on the fact that the area is rife with smugglers, implying that the young Father who waits on them are also involved in these latter illegal activities. It also becomes obvious that the insinuating traveller, who had shown intense interest in Amy Dorrit during most of the preceding conversation, takes care not to miss out on the repast while he is talking. After the meal, the conversation touches on the subject of living in a confined place like the monastery, and here Mr. Dorrit is evidently getting into troubled waters:

”’But the space,’ urged the grey-haired gentleman. ‘So small. So—ha—very limited.’

Monsieur would recall to himself that there were the refuges to visit, and that tracks had to be made to them also.

Monsieur still urged, on the other hand, that the space was so—ha—hum—so very contracted. More than that, it was always the same, always the same.

With a deprecating smile, the host gently raised and gently lowered his shoulders. That was true, he remarked, but permit him to say that almost all objects had their various points of view. Monsieur and he did not see this poor life of his from the same point of view. Monsieur was not used to confinement.

‘I—ha—yes, very true,’ said the grey-haired gentleman. He seemed to receive quite a shock from the force of the argument.

Monsieur, as an English traveller, surrounded by all means of travelling pleasantly; doubtless possessing fortune, carriages, and servants—

‘Perfectly, perfectly. Without doubt,’ said the gentleman.

Monsieur could not easily place himself in the position of a person who had not the power to choose, I will go here to-morrow, or there next day; I will pass these barriers, I will enlarge those bounds. Monsieur could not realise, perhaps, how the mind accommodated itself in such things to the force of necessity.

‘It is true,’ said Monsieur. ‘We will—ha—not pursue the subject. You are—hum—quite accurate, I have no doubt. We will say no more.’”


After supper, Amy looks for the bedroom that Pet was taken to, and finding her asleep, she muses on her for a long while, saying to herself how pretty Pet is and how unlike herself she looks. After a while, the young wife wakes up, and engages in a conversation with Amy, who gives her a slip of paper written by Arthur Clennam, who has asked Amy – in case she met Pet abroad, which he thought would sooner or later happen – to enquire how she is. Pet tells Amy that she should let Arthur know she is quite well and happy, and she begs Amy to take back the paper lest her husband should find it on her. Amy also finds out that Pet does not know anything about their family’s history – in other words, Arthur has been discreet on this subject –, and she tells Pet that nowadays she is not supposed to talk about her past anymore – we can easily hear her father’s but also her sister’s admonitions to that effect. Amy concedes that some of her family may be a little proud and prejudiced on that subject.

When they have closed their conversation and Amy tries to retrace her steps to her own room, she runs into Mr. Blandois, who makes a point of lighting her way and who, on that occasion, leaves anything but a very favourable impression on her. Blandois goes back into the room with the fire, where he only finds Mr. Dorrit, and he proposes a toast:

”There with the wood-fire, which was beginning to burn low, rising and falling upon him in the dark room, he sat with his legs thrust out to warm, drinking the hot wine down to the lees, with a monstrous shadow imitating him on the wall and ceiling.”

I actually liked that detail of the monstrous shadow imitating Mr. Blandois on the wall and ceiling, which would have made a great effect in a film. Finally, Mr. Dorrit, too, takes his leave, and Mr. Blandois is left to himself. He uses the opportunity to look up the travellers’ names in the travellers’ book and to add his own name,

”ending with a long lean flourish, not unlike a lasso thrown at all the rest of the names”.

I wonder whether this lasso will not imply bad consequences arising from the Dorrits’ acquaintance with Mr. Blandois, who now seems to have entered the lives of all major actors in the novel.


Tristram Shandy The second chapter is relatively short and it gives us some background information on “Mrs. General” and on how she became a member of the Dorrit family. It also provides some comic relief after the portentous and alarming atmosphere of the preceding chapter.

”Mrs General was the daughter of a clerical dignitary in a cathedral town, where she had led the fashion until she was as near forty-five as a single lady can be.”

In the same rather snappy vein we learn that Mrs. General married late and was a model of propriety and manners, and that her husband matched her well on these two heads. After his early death, however, she had to find out that her financial situation was less promising than she had anticipated since her husband had bought himself an annuity rather than possessing ample means, and after his death the annuity was forfeited. She then had the idea of becoming a kind of tutor, governess and chaperon to a young lady, and for seven years she worked in that position for a widower and his daughter. This daughter finally being married, Mrs. General’s services were back on the market, and Mr. Dorrit learned through his bankers that Mrs. General is just the sort of person that might be adequate for his own daughters. It is quite funny how the narrator explains how someone like Mrs. General usually gets the best of testimonials:

”Mrs General's communication of this idea to her clerical and commissariat connection was so warmly applauded that, but for the lady's undoubted merit, it might have appeared as though they wanted to get rid of her. Testimonials representing Mrs General as a prodigy of piety, learning, virtue, and gentility, were lavishly contributed from influential quarters; and one venerable archdeacon even shed tears in recording his testimony to her perfections (described to him by persons on whom he could rely), though he had never had the honour and moral gratification of setting eyes on Mrs General in all his life.”

”The widower then finding Mrs General both inconvenient and expensive, became of a sudden almost as much affected by her merits as the archdeacon had been, and circulated such praises of her surpassing worth, in all quarters where he thought an opportunity might arise of transferring the blessing to somebody else, that Mrs General was a name more honourable than ever.”

This is probably the way people rise to the highest positions in Barnacle-land. Mrs. General is very sensitive with regard to her position in that she can only accept to be treated as a member of her employer’s family, and not as an employee, and, of course, money is a subject that is not to be touched on with her – and yet she manages to increase her – extremely generous – salary by a third when she enters into Mr. Dorrit’s services.

We also learn this of her:

”In person, Mrs General, including her skirts which had much to do with it, was of a dignified and imposing appearance; ample, rustling, gravely voluminous; always upright behind the proprieties. She might have been taken—had been taken—to the top of the Alps and the bottom of Herculaneum, without disarranging a fold in her dress, or displacing a pin. If her countenance and hair had rather a floury appearance, as though from living in some transcendently genteel Mill, it was rather because she was a chalky creation altogether, than because she mended her complexion with violet powder, or had turned grey. If her eyes had no expression, it was probably because they had nothing to express. If she had few wrinkles, it was because her mind had never traced its name or any other inscription on her face. A cool, waxy, blown-out woman, who had never lighted well.

Mrs General had no opinions. Her way of forming a mind was to prevent it from forming opinions. She had a little circular set of mental grooves or rails on which she started little trains of other people's opinions, which never overtook one another, and never got anywhere. Even her propriety could not dispute that there was impropriety in the world; but Mrs General's way of getting rid of it was to put it out of sight, and make believe that there was no such thing. This was another of her ways of forming a mind—to cram all articles of difficulty into cupboards, lock them up, and say they had no existence. It was the easiest way, and, beyond all comparison, the properest.

Mrs General was not to be told of anything shocking. Accidents, miseries, and offences, were never to be mentioned before her. Passion was to go to sleep in the presence of Mrs General, and blood was to change to milk and water. The little that was left in the world, when all these deductions were made, it was Mrs General's province to varnish. In that formation process of hers, she dipped the smallest of brushes into the largest of pots, and varnished the surface of every object that came under consideration. The more cracked it was, the more Mrs General varnished it.

There was varnish in Mrs General's voice, varnish in Mrs General's touch, an atmosphere of varnish round Mrs General's figure. Mrs General's dreams ought to have been varnished—if she had any—lying asleep in the arms of the good Saint Bernard, with the feathery snow falling on his house-top.”


I don’t really know what function this chapter has in the context of the novel – maybe Mrs. General, who is rather a late-comer in the dramatis personae of this novel, is going to play an important role yet –, but I could not help feeling reminded of good old Mrs. Sparsit here.


Tristram Shandy Chapter 3 sees our fellow travellers “On the Road” again when they all prepare to resume their respective journeys on the following morning. Mr. Tip has a little conversation with his sister Amy, in which he once more expresses his contempt for Mr. Gowan – nevertheless, he seems too much of a coward to do this in Gowan’s own face –, and then he also warns Amy not to fall back into her old habits and start nursing Mrs. Gowan herself. In fact, the Dorrits, who used to depend so much on Amy’s unwavering kindness, now seem to feel quite ashamed of her, as the following extract might show:

”’I have only been in to ask her if I could do anything for her, Tip,’ said Little Dorrit.

‘You needn't call me Tip, Amy child,’ returned that young gentleman with a frown; ‘because that's an old habit, and one you may as well lay aside.’

‘I didn't mean to say so, Edward dear. I forgot. It was so natural once, that it seemed at the moment the right word.’

‘Oh yes!’ Miss Fanny struck in. ‘Natural, and right word, and once, and all the rest of it! Nonsense, you little thing! I know perfectly well why you have been taking such an interest in this Mrs Gowan. You can't blind me.’

‘I will not try to, Fanny. Don't be angry.’

‘Oh! angry!’ returned that young lady with a flounce. ‘I have no patience’ (which indeed was the truth).

‘Pray, Fanny,’ said Mr Dorrit, raising his eyebrows, ‘what do you mean? Explain yourself.’”


Fanny now explains to her father that Amy’s interest in Mrs. Gowan might have something to do with her acquaintance with Arthur Clennam, and in the course of the ensuing conversation it becomes clear that Mr. Dorrit, in the splendour of his newly-gained dignity and importance, has deemed it best not to prolong his acquaintance with Mr. Clennam as the latter presents a link with a past the Dorrits would like to forget. Mr. Dorrit has shown his gratitude to the Plornishes by buying them a little business – it is not said of what kind – but still any memory of his former life and any contact with those who in some way or other shared it with him would be unbearable to the Dorrits, at least to the former Father of the Marshalsea and his two elder children. Consequently, they all tend to look down a bit on Amy for not being ready to cast off old – and good – habits. The only family member, who shows more and more awareness of Amy’s good qualities and who cannot see her slighted by anyone is Frederick Dorrit, who is still living in a world of his own but nevertheless aware of when his youngest niece is treated inconsiderately by her family or their servants.

After breakfast, the Dorrits and their suite get ready for departure, and on their way down the mountain, Amy feels Mr. Blandois watching her – again, I can well imagine this scene in a film noir, with Blandois taken from a low-angle shot, black against a clear sky, and then a zoom-out centred on his solitary figure against the sky, and maybe a dissolving cut showing Amy’s pupil in which the image of that solitary figure lingers:

”Nevertheless, as they wound down the rugged way while the convent was yet in sight, she more than once looked round, and descried Mr Blandois, backed by the convent smoke which rose straight and high from the chimneys in a golden film, always standing on one jutting point looking down after them. Long after he was a mere black stick in the snow, she felt as though she could yet see that smile of his, that high nose, and those eyes that were too near it. And even after that, when the convent was gone and some light morning clouds veiled the pass below it, the ghastly skeleton arms by the wayside seemed to be all pointing up at him.

More treacherous than snow, perhaps, colder at heart, and harder to melt, Blandois of Paris by degrees passed out of her mind, as they came down into the softer regions.”


When the family arrive at Martigny, they find, to Mr. Dorrit’s dismay, that one room of their suite has been given to a lady and her son to have breakfast in. Where a more self-confident person would have been able to let it go, Mr. Dorrit feels that his honour has been slighted and he tells the abject landlord that he will never again set a foot into his hotel. The narrator has a fine psychological eye with regard to upstart sensibilities:

”He felt that the family dignity was struck at by an assassin's hand. He had a sense of his dignity, which was of the most exquisite nature. He could detect a design upon it when nobody else had any perception of the fact. His life was made an agony by the number of fine scalpels that he felt to be incessantly engaged in dissecting his dignity.”

Accidentally, however, the lady in question and her son prove to be Mrs. Merdle and her son Edmund Sparkler, who knows Edward Dorrit quite well, and consequently the conflict is eventually patched up – much to the gratification of Fanny, who is now able to confront Mrs. Merdle in a more elevated social position.

The chapter closes with some observations on how lonely Amy feels, on how she would like to be once again close to her father and be able to show her caring nature. All this, however, seems to belong to the past, which was, paradoxically, a happier time for Amy than the family’s rise to fortune has brought.


Tristram Shandy In the fourth chapter we get “A Letter from Little Dorrit”, which is addressed to Mr. Clennam. As the letter is relatively short – not for a letter, but for a chapter –, my recap can be relatively short, too. Among other things, e.g. the fact that the Plornishes’ business is flourishing and that Mr. Nandy is now able to live with his family, Amy tells Clennam that she has met Mrs. Gowan and that the young lady is tolerably well. She also says this about Mrs. Gowan’s husband:

”It will not make you uneasy on Mrs Gowan's account, I hope—for I remember that you said you had the interest of a true friend in her—if I tell you that I wish she could have married some one better suited to her. Mr Gowan seems fond of her, and of course she is very fond of him, but I thought he was not earnest enough—I don't mean in that respect—I mean in anything. I could not keep it out of my mind that if I was Mrs Gowan (what a change that would be, and how I must alter to become like her!) I should feel that I was rather lonely and lost, for the want of some one who was steadfast and firm in purpose. I even thought she felt this want a little, almost without knowing it. But mind you are not made uneasy by this, for she was 'very well and very happy.' And she looked most beautiful.“

She goes on by describing her new life, giving the following very moving account:

”It is the same with all these new countries and wonderful sights. They are very beautiful, and they astonish me, but I am not collected enough—not familiar enough with myself, if you can quite understand what I mean—to have all the pleasure in them that I might have. What I knew before them, blends with them, too, so curiously. For instance, when we were among the mountains, I often felt (I hesitate to tell such an idle thing, dear Mr Clennam, even to you) as if the Marshalsea must be behind that great rock; or as if Mrs Clennam's room where I have worked so many days, and where I first saw you, must be just beyond that snow. Do you remember one night when I came with Maggy to your lodging in Covent Garden? That room I have often and often fancied I have seen before me, travelling along for miles by the side of our carriage, when I have looked out of the carriage-window after dark. We were shut out that night, and sat at the iron gate, and walked about till morning. I often look up at the stars, even from the balcony of this room, and believe that I am in the street again, shut out with Maggy. It is the same with people that I left in England.

When I go about here in a gondola, I surprise myself looking into other gondolas as if I hoped to see them. It would overcome me with joy to see them, but I don't think it would surprise me much, at first. In my fanciful times, I fancy that they might be anywhere; and I almost expect to see their dear faces on the bridges or the quays.

Another difficulty that I have will seem very strange to you. It must seem very strange to any one but me, and does even to me: I often feel the old sad pity for—I need not write the word—for him. Changed as he is, and inexpressibly blest and thankful as I always am to know it, the old sorrowful feeling of compassion comes upon me sometimes with such strength that I want to put my arms round his neck, tell him how I love him, and cry a little on his breast. I should be glad after that, and proud and happy. But I know that I must not do this; that he would not like it, that Fanny would be angry, that Mrs General would be amazed; and so I quiet myself. Yet in doing so, I struggle with the feeling that I have come to be at a distance from him; and that even in the midst of all the servants and attendants, he is deserted, and in want of me.”


Finally, she signs her letter with the words “Your poor child, Little Dorrit”, which did not go down too well with me because I asked myself why a grown-up woman should talk about herself as a child.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Dear Pickwickians,
This week we have finally arrived at the second Part of the novel, which is called “Riches” and which sees the Dorrit family in greatly altered circumstances. Chapter 1 of this s..."


As you noted, Tristram, Dickens does a bit of a looped second verse that is the same as the first. (Does anyone else remember Herman and the Hermit's "Henry the VIII?).

Similar to the first group's movement to England, we now have the Dorrit family who have just go out of jail and are on their way to a new location in Europe. This time, we have the recently released Mr. Dorrit with his family, servants and Mrs. General. Dickens does this sort of style often. By re-framing a similar event we are able to compare and contrast the events that formed both incidences. This style creates a good reminder for his readers of movement within the text and a way to keep both himself and his readers on the rails without falling off.

I too noted that no names were given to the characters until the end of the chapter. Was this a riddle for his readers? Another way to establish a change in circumstance? Whatever his intent, I do not think there is much to doubt when we read the final sentences. Blandois's ' signature which is "not unlike a lasso thrown at all the rest of the names" is clearly meant to let us know that all these European pilgrims, and, no doubt others in England, are bound together somehow, and that Blandois is the sole person who knows what the next chapters will bring.


Peter Tristram wrote: "The second chapter is relatively short and it gives us some background information on “Mrs. General” and on how she became a member of the Dorrit family. It also provides some comic relief after th..."

Mrs. General. Could there be a better name for a woman of no opinions?

She is the perfect stereotype of an old-fashioned school mistress.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Chapter 3 sees our fellow travellers “On the Road” again when they all prepare to resume their respective journeys on the following morning. Mr. Tip has a little conversation with his sister Amy, i..."

It was interesting to see your cinematic eye framing this chapter Tristram. Who would play Little Dorrit?

This chapter made me dislike Mr. Dorrit even more, if that is possible. Funny how some characters just rub you the wrong way.

Dickens is a master of the chance meeting, mysterious connection and massive revelation. Well, here we have the chance meeting, and I'm still waiting for a complete and satisfying explanation of the source Mr. Dorrit's wealth. Or have I missed that in my attempt to like this novel? :-))

The end of the chapter swings us from the balcony of a residence in Venice to the cold rememberences of the old iron gate and the cold stone of the Marshalsea. I wonder if we cast our minds back to the chapter where Little Dorrit and Maggie slept by the Marshalsea's gates, and then warmed themselves and rested in the church, that the contents or connections of church records have any link to Mr. Dorrit's mysterious wealth?


Peter Tristram wrote: "In the fourth chapter we get “A Letter from Little Dorrit”, which is addressed to Mr. Clennam. As the letter is relatively short – not for a letter, but for a chapter –, my recap can be relatively ..."

So, Mr. Bowen comes up somewhat short in Little Dorrit's mind as a husband.

Amy's letter (chapter) to Arthur Clennam is very interesting. I see in it, and mostly between the lines, that Amy is feeling more and more alienated from her family because of the family's new-found wealth. Money does not bring happiness. Indeed, it makes Mr. Dorrit and Amy's brother and sister more irritating and self-centred.

As Amy looks at the sleeping Mrs. Bowen, she no doubt sees what, in her mind, is a beautiful woman, and, by extension, what type of woman Arthur Clennam would find attractive. In this case, Amy would be correct, but Dickens is developing the relationship between Amy and Arthur in such a way that the audience is aware of their inevitable discovery of each other. Amy is worried that Arthur will see her as a changed woman because of her new family circumstances while Arthur is constantly discovering a new path for his emotions that lead directly to Amy.

If absence truly does make the heart grow fonder then the Dorrit European tour will ultimately bring Amy and Arthur much closer together. And yet there is that dastardly Blandois. More to come ...


message 9: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Here is one of the two Phiz illustrations:


Book II, Chapter I - Phiz



The Travellers

Book II Chapter I

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"You, madam," said the insinuating traveller, "have visited this spot before?"

"Yes," returned Mrs. General. "I have been here before. Let me commend you, my dear," to the former young lady, "to shade your face from the hot wood, after exposure to the mountain air and snow. You, too, my dear," to the other and younger lady, who immediately did so; while the former merely said, "Thank you, Mrs. General, I am perfectly comfortable, and prefer remaining as I am."

The brother, who had left his chair to open a piano that stood in the room, and who had whistled into it and shut it up again, now came strolling back to the fire with his glass in his eye. He was dressed in the very fullest and completest travelling trim. The world seemed hardly large enough to yield him an amount of travel proportionate to his equipment.

"These fellows are an immense time with supper," he drawled. "I wonder what they'll give us! Has anybody any idea?"


Commentary:

"The drawing technique is characteristic of Browne's style in the late 1850s and early 1860s at its best, with a concern for composition, a pleasant handling of faces, and something of a sparseness of background details. In some of these plates, however, there is a tendency toward excessively rigid symmetry, as in the very next one in this novel, "The Travellers" (Bk. 2, ch. 1). [Steig, 166-167]

The symmetry which Steig contends imposes a rigid organization upon the composition is consistent with Dickens's description of the three "parties" waiting for their dinner in the parlor of the Alpine convent. The "insinuating traveller" is almost certainly Monsieur Blandois (extreme left, smoking) in the first chapter of the October 1856 (eleventh) installment that marks the mid-point of the serial run. "The Chief" (William Dorrit) and his suite — his brother Frederick, his daughters Amy and Fanny, and their governess, Mrs. General, occupy the right-hand side, with Tip Dorrit in the rather loud suit and sporting a monocle, immediately before the fire, "roasting" himself. Aside from Blandois, already noted, the left-hand register includes Minnie and Henry Gowan ("the artist traveler," nearest the viewer, to whom Blandois has already attached himself), and the overtaking party whom Dickens explicitly describes: "The third party, which had ascended from the valley on the Italian side of the Pass, and had arrived first, were four in number: a plethoric, hungry, and silent German tutor in spectacles, on a tour with three young men, his pupils, all plethoric, hungry, and silent, and all in spectacles". A "value-added" feature in the drawing of the international travelers is that Mrs. General's fan, not mentioned in the letterpress, forms a kind of halo around Amy Dorrit's head, right. To suggest that the setting is the refectory of a convent, Phiz has added a statue of the Virgin and the Child (left) and a portrait of Christ above the mantel of the fireplace. Unless one regards Tip's monocle as having symbolic value, the picture is without the kinds of embedded emblems that characterize his earlier work. While Phiz has sufficiently distinguished each of the nine male travelers, the three young women might all be sisters, as the illustrator's eye for feminine beauty tended to run towards this particular type of thin brunette. Nevertheless, through giving her a tentative, timid quality Phiz leaves us in doubt as to which young woman is Little Dorrit, and which the proud, self-centered Fanny. A typical Browne elaboration of upon the text is Minnie Gowan's fruitlessly attempting to engage her husband in conversation, implying that, although not long married, the couple are already growing apart.

Browne's greatest problem was that by now Dickens usurped his very function. The author had always written unusually pictorial prose. In Little Dorrit his writing became so graphically suggestive yet selective that it needed little visual help.

Although, as Valerie Browne Lester points out, the Phiz illustrations in Little Dorrit are often superfluous because of the descriptive power of the prose, Phiz's realization of William Dorrit's continuing arrogance and self-importance marks a significant moment in the novel as this is the first illustration in the second book, "Riches." Wealth, as Phiz points out, has done nothing to improve either William or his daughter Fanny; their sudden wealth has merely served to magnify their petulance.
(that's for sure) Only Amy remains untouched by the unexpected windfall that has enabled the Dorrits to undertake the Grand Tour, complete with couriers and trains of pack-mules."


message 10: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Chapter 3 - Phiz



The family dignity is affronted

Book II Chapter 3

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"So jealous was [William Dorrit] of [Miss Fanny's] being respected, that, on this very journey down from the Great Saint Bernard, he took sudden and violent umbrage at the footman's being remiss to hold her stirrup, though standing near when she dismounted; and unspeakably astonished the whole retinue by charging at him on a hard-headed mule, riding him into a corner, and threatening to trample him to death.

They were a goodly company, and the Innkeepers all but worshipped them. Wherever they went, their importance preceded them in the person of the courier riding before, to see that the rooms of state were ready. He was the herald of the family procession. The great travelling-carriage came next: containing, inside, Mr. Dorrit, Miss Dorrit, Miss Amy Dorrit, and Mrs. General; outside, some of the retainers, and (in fine weather) Edward Dorrit, Esquire, for whom the box was reserved. Then came the chariot containing Frederick Dorrit, Esquire, and an empty place occupied by Edward Dorrit, Esquire, in wet weather. Then came the fourgon with the rest of the retainers, the heavy baggage, and as much as it could carry of the mud and dust which the other vehicles left behind.

. . . . Nothing could exceed Mr Dorrit's indignation, as he turned at the foot of the staircase on hearing these apologies. He felt that the family dignity was struck at by an assassin's hand. He had a sense of his dignity, which was of the most exquisite nature. He could detect a design upon it when nobody else had any perception of the fact. His life was made an agony by the number of fine scalpels that he felt to be incessantly engaged in dissecting his dignity.

"Is it possible, sir," said Mr. Dorrit, reddening excessively, "that you have — ha — had the audacity to place one of my rooms at the disposition of any other person?"


Commentary:

"William Dorrit is put out by the innkeeper's giving the wealthy banker's wife, Mrs. Merdle, and her foppish son, Edmund Sparker, preferential treatment at the Great Saint Barnard crossing of the Alps into Italy. His grievance with the partiality shown to the other English travellers is exacerbated by Mrs. Merdle's cutting him socially, after his family's having been made much of by previous publicans on their route from France into Italy. "The great travelling-carriage" of the Dorrits here is reminiscent of that cumbersome vehicle in which Charles Dickens transported his family from London to Genoa in 1844. The Phiz illustration, unlike the parallel Mahoney illustration in the Household Edition, does not attempt to convey the majestic Alpine scenery. Perhaps Dickens expressly vetoed any such picturesque effect:

Browne's greatest problem was that by now Dickens usurped his very function. The author had always written unusually pictorial prose. In Little Dorrit his writing became so graphically suggestive yet selective that it needed little visual help.

At the inn at Martigny (the capital of the French-speaking district in the canton of Valais in Switzerland), William Dorrit is mightily offended because the management has given away the suite he had reserved and has assigned it to Mrs. Merdle, a middle-aged aristocrat who has married a financier. Although Mrs. Merdle refuses to acknowledge her fellow travellers (because, of course, she knows of their less-than-aristocratic origins, despite their recently having inherited a fortune), as her carriage pulls away from the hotel, her son by her first marriage, Edmund Sparkler, peers at Amy and Fanny from the back window."



message 11: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Book II-Chapter 3 - Harry Furniss



Mr. Dorrit and the Swiss Innkeeper

Book II Chapter 3

Harry Furniss

Text Illustrated:

"These equipages adorned the yard of the hotel at Martigny, on the return of the family from their mountain excursion. Other vehicles were there, much company being on the road, from the patched Italian Vettura — like the body of a swing from an English fair put upon a wooden tray on wheels, and having another wooden tray without wheels put atop of it — to the trim English carriage. But there was another adornment of the hotel which Mr Dorrit had not bargained for. Two strange travellers embellished one of his rooms.

The Innkeeper, hat in hand in the yard, swore to the courier that he was blighted, that he was desolated, that he was profoundly afflicted, that he was the most miserable and unfortunate of beasts, that he had the head of a wooden pig. He ought never to have made the concession, he said, but the very genteel lady had so passionately prayed him for the accommodation of that room to dine in, only for a little half-hour, that he had been vanquished. The little half-hour was expired, the lady and gentleman were taking their little dessert and half-cup of coffee, the note was paid, the horses were ordered, they would depart immediately; but, owing to an unhappy destiny and the curse of Heaven, they were not yet gone.

Nothing could exceed Mr Dorrit's indignation, as he turned at the foot of the staircase on hearing these apologies. He felt that the family dignity was struck at by an assassin's hand. He had a sense of his dignity, which was of the most exquisite nature. He could detect a design upon it when nobody else had any perception of the fact. His life was made an agony by the number of fine scalpels that he felt to be incessantly engaged in dissecting his dignity.

"Is it possible, sir," said Mr. Dorrit, reddening excessively, "that you have — ha — had the audacity to place one of my rooms at the disposition of any other person?"

Thousands of pardons! It was the host's profound misfortune to have been overcome by that too genteel lady. He besought Monseigneur not to enrage himself. He threw himself on Monseigneur for clemency. If Monseigneur would have the distinguished goodness to occupy the other salon especially reserved for him, for but five minutes, all would go well.

"No, sir," said Mr. Dorrit. "I will not occupy any salon. I will leave your house without eating or drinking, or setting foot in it.

How do you dare to act like this? Who am I that you — ha — separate me from other gentlemen?"

Alas! The host called all the universe to witness that Monseigneur was the most amiable of the whole body of nobility, the most important, the most estimable, the most honoured. If he separated Monseigneur from others, it was only because he was more distinguished, more cherished, more generous, more renowned."


Commentary:

"William Dorrit is put out by the innkeeper's giving the wealthy banker's wife, Mrs. Merdle, and her foppish son, Edmund Sparker, preferential treatment at the Great Saint Barnard crossing of the Alps into Italy. His grievance with the partiality shown to the other English travellers is exacerbated by Mrs. Merdle's cutting him socially, after his family's having been made much of by previous publicans on their route from France into Italy. "The great travelling-carriage" of the Dorrits here is reminiscent of that cumbersome vehicle in which Charles Dickens transported his family from London to Genoa in 1844.

Although, as Valerie Browne Lester points out, the Phiz illustrations in Little Dorrit are often superfluous because of the descriptive power of the prose, Phiz's realization of William Dorrit's continuing arrogance and self-importance marks a significant moment in the novel as this is the first illustration in the second book, "Riches." Wealth, as Phiz points out and as Furniss underscores in attempting the same scene, has done nothing to improve either William or his daughter Fanny; their sudden wealth has merely served to magnify their petulance. Only Amy (squeezed in between Fanny and her uncle in the Furniss version) remains untouched by the unexpected windfall that has enabled the formerly indigent Dorrits to undertake a middle-class version of the eighteenth-century the Grand Tour, complete with couriers, servants (suggested by the figures in top-hats in the Furniss illustration) and trains of pack-mules. The corpulent innkeeper bows low before the incensed English traveller with the fur collar and walking stick, obvious manifestations of his "gentlemanly" pretentions, an imperious and portly figure whose gesture is suggestive of contempt for those who have usurped his prerogative and occupied the rooms reserved for his suite."



message 12: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Book II Chapter 1 - James Mahoney



"As he kissed her hand, with his best manner and his daintiest smile, the young lady drew a little nearer to her father"

Book II Chapter 1

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1873

Text Illustrated:

"To the health of your distinguished family — of the fair ladies, your daughters!"

"Sir, I thank you again, I wish you good night. My dear, are our — ha — our people in attendance?"

"They are close by, father."

"Permit me!" said the traveller, rising and holding the door open, as the gentleman crossed the room towards it with his arm drawn through his daughter’s. "Good repose! To the pleasure of seeing you once more! To to-morrow!"

"As he kissed his hand, with his best manner and his daintiest smile, the young lady drew a little nearer to her father, and passed him with a dread of touching him.

"Humph!" said the insinuating traveller, whose manner shrunk, and whose voice dropped when he was left alone. "If they all go to bed, why I must go. They are in a devil of a hurry. One would think the night would be long enough, in this freezing silence and solitude, if one went to bed two hours hence.’

"Throwing back his head in emptying his glass, he cast his eyes upon the travellers' book, which lay on the piano, open, with pens and ink beside it, as if the night's names had been registered when he was absent. Taking it in his hand, he read these entries.

William Dorrit, Esquire / And suite. From France to Italy


Frederick Dorrit, Esquire


Edward Dorrit, Esquire


Miss Dorrit


Amy Dorrit


Mr. and Mrs. Henry Gowan. From France to Italy."



Commentary:

"The Chapman and Hall woodcut appears at approximately the same point in the New York (Harper and Brothers) edition, but has a more extensive caption in the American text: "Permit me!" said the traveller, rising and holding the door open. "Good repose! To the pleasure of seeing you once more! To to-morrow!" As he kissed her hand, with his best manner, and his daintiest smile, the young lady drew a little nearer to her father, and passed him with a dread of touching him" — Book 2, chap. i.

The Dorrits, now having undergone a sea-change as a result of Pancks' investigations, are now wealthy enough to undertake the nineteenth-century equivalent of the eighteenth-century Grand Tour for young English aristocrats. Charles Dickens himself travelled through France and into Italy in 1844, and subsequently experienced the crossing of the St. Barnard Pass in the Alps from Switzerland into Italy. At a monastery in the Alps, the Dorrit party meets the honeymooning Gowans, as well as the rakish and insinuating Frenchman, Monsieur Blandois (the alias of Rigaud, the wife-murderer), all on their way to Rome. Amy, finding that Blandois' peculiar attentions make her feel uncomfortable, turns to her here-to-fore ineffectual father for protection. Mahoney's treatment of the foreign villain throughout the 1873 Household Edition volume is consistent with Rigaud's malignant appearance in other 19th-century programs of illustration: here we see the same Satanic smirk, the same curling moustache, the same exaggerated nose and Gallic chin (all that are visible of his face in the Mahoney illustration) that one sees in Sol Eytinge, Junior's Rigaud and Cavalletto (1867). In this illustration, Amy, dressed fashionably in a white gown and shawl (a departure from her previous, dark clothing) shrinks from the gesticulating Frenchman, whom he father regards with cold aloofness.

A relatively minor character in the original serial program who makes just four appearances (discounting his indistinct image in The Birds in the Cage (December 1855) — significantly at this point in the narrative to the extreme left, studying the English tourists in Phiz's The Travellers (Book 2, Chapter 1) — the scoundrel Rigaud, usually smoking, is very much a continuing character in Mahoney's program, introduced in the initial illustration in the Marseilles prison. In fact, in the fifty-eight illustrations, Rigaud appears thirteen times, eight of these being in Book the Second. Mahoney may, however, be overstating his importance to the plot, just as Harry Furniss has unreasonably minimized him in the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition by showing him just once."



message 13: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim James Mahoney - Book II Chapter 3



"Nevertheless, as they wound round the rugged way while the convent was yet in sight, she more than once looked round, and descried Mr. Blandois, backed by the convent smoke which rose high from the chimneys in a golden film, always standing on one jutting point looking down after them."

Book II Chapter 3

James Mahoney

Household Edition 1873

Text Illustrated:

"Mr. Gowan stood aloof with his cigar and pencil, but Mr. Blandois was on the spot to pay his respects to the ladies. When he gallantly pulled off his slouched hat to Little Dorrit, she thought he had even a more sinister look, standing swart and cloaked in the snow, than he had in the fire-light over-night. But, as both her father and her sister received his homage with some favour, she refrained from expressing any distrust of him, lest it should prove to be a new blemish derived from her prison birth.

Nevertheless, as they wound down the rugged way while the convent was yet in sight, she more than once looked round, and descried Mr. Blandois, backed by the convent smoke which rose straight and high from the chimneys in a golden film, always standing on one jutting point looking down after them. Long after he was a mere black stick in the snow, she felt as though she could yet see that smile of his, that high nose, and those eyes that were too near it. And even after that, when the convent was gone and some light morning clouds veiled the pass below it, the ghastly skeleton arms by the wayside seemed to be all pointing up at him."


Commentary:

"James Mahoney's treatment of the foreign villain in the 1873 Household Edition volume is consistent with Rigaud's/Blandois's malignant appearance in other 19th-century programs of illustration: here we see the same Satanic smirk, the same curling moustache, the same exaggerated nose and Gallic chin (all that are visible of his face in the Mahoney illustration) that one sees in Sol Eytinge, Junior's Rigaud and Cavalletto (1867). The pose of the evil genius watching his prey, however, is rather overstated, and is perhaps even a red herring. Mahoney conveys well the majesty of the Alpine backdrop, juxtaposing the dark figure of the sinister observer against the white peaks which the rising sun catches and ruled lines of the valleys still dark after the breakfast scene at the inn. The crosses represent the nearby convent, and a few mules and muleteers imply the presence of a vast train, off left. A relatively minor character in the original serial program who makes just four appearances — the scoundrel is very much a continuing character in Mahoney's program, introduced in the initial illustration in the Marseilles prison. In fact, in the fifty-eight illustrations, Rigaud/Blandois appears thirteen times, eight of these being in Book the Second. Phiz and later illustrators imbue him with more than a whiff of Satanic sulfur, emphasized in his smoking cigarettes, and in the Mahoney illustration set in the Alps by his proximity to the smoke from the nearby convent."


message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim From The Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster:

The book took its origin from the notion he had of a leading man for a story who should bring about all the mischief in it, lay it all on Providence, and say at every fresh calamity, "Well it's a mercy, however, nobody was to blame you know!" The title first chosen, out of many suggested, was Nobody's Fault; and four numbers had been written, of which the first was on the eve of appearance, before this was changed. When about to fall to work he excused himself from an engagement he should have kept because "the story is breaking out all round me, and I am going off down the railroad to humour it." The humouring was a little difficult, however; and such indications of a droop in his invention as presented themselves in portions of Bleak House, were noticeable again.

"As to the story I am in the second number, and last night and this morning had half a mind to begin again, and work in what I have done, afterwards." It had occurred to him, that, by making the fellow-travellers at once known to each other, as the opening of the story stands, he had missed an effect. "It struck me that it would be a new thing to show people coming together, in a chance way, as fellow-travellers, and being in the same place, ignorant of one another, as happens in life; and to connect them afterwards, and to make the waiting for that connection a part of the interest."

The change was not made; but the mention of it was one of several intimations to me of the altered conditions under which he was writing, and that the old, unstinted, irrepressible flow of fancy had received temporary check.

"I am just now getting to work on number three: sometimes enthusiastic, more often dull enough. There is an enormous outlay in the Father of the Marshalsea chapter, in the way of getting a great lot of matter into a small space. I am not quite resolved, but I have a great idea of overwhelming that family with wealth. Their condition would be very curious. I can make Dorrit very strong in the story, I hope."

The Marshalsea part of the tale undoubtedly was excellent, and there was masterly treatment of character in the contrasts of the brothers Dorrit; but of the family generally it may be said that its least important members had most of his genius in them. The younger of the brothers, the scapegrace son, and "Fanny dear," are perfectly real people in what makes them unattractive; but what is meant for attractiveness in the heroine becomes often tiresome by want of reality.

The first number appeared in December 1855, and on the 2nd there was an exultant note. "Little Dorrit has beaten even Bleak House out of the field. It is a most tremendous start, and I am overjoyed at it;" to which he added, writing from Paris on the 6th of the month following, "You know that they had sold 35,000 of number two on new year's day." He was still in Paris on the day of the appearance of that portion of the tale by which it will always be most vividly remembered, and thus wrote on the 30th of January 1856:

"I have a grim pleasure upon me to-night in thinking that the Circumlocution Office sees the light, and in wondering what effect it will make. But my head really stings with the visions of the book, and I am going, as we French say, to disembarrass it by plunging out into some of the strange places I glide into of nights in these latitudes."


Peter Kim wrote: "From The Life of Charles Dickens by John Forster:

The book took its origin from the notion he had of a leading man for a story who should bring about all the mischief in it, lay it all on Providen..."


And again, Kim, thank you.

I find it particularly interesting to read Dickens's comments on his creative process and, by extension, listen to his business mind working at the same time. I have mentioned earlier that LD is not making much music for me. Evidently, however, Dickens was quite pleased. BH will never sit in the shadows of LD in my mind.


Peter Kim wrote: "Here is one of the two Phiz illustrations:


Book II, Chapter I - Phiz

The Travellers

Book II Chapter I

Phiz

Text Illustrated:

"You, madam," said the insinuating traveller, "have visited this ..."


I never really thought about it before, but the two Phiz illustrations certainly are filled with characters, and there is a symmetry to their positioning and composition. The fan of Mrs. General that highlights Amy's head certainly can be likened to a halo. That is a fascinating detail and one that I completely missed. This week's illustrations have been very instructive as to Browne's style and composition.

Having just come from our trip to Europe and our time in the Rijksmuseum I'm tempted to say that the inn scene with its grouping of people is reminiscent of the Dutch Masters' style of representing the guilds and armed guards a la Rembrant's "The Night Watch."


Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Chapter 3 sees our fellow travellers “On the Road” again when they all prepare to resume their respective journeys on the following morning. Mr. Tip has a little conversation with ..."

If I am not mistaken, Mr. Dorrit has come into an inheritance from another, remoter branch of his family. Mr. Pancks seems to have things like these at his fingers' ends; he also asked Clennam if he was related to the Clennams of Watchamacallit.

Like you said, Peter, this chapter moved Mr. Dorrit down in my esteem quite a lot, and it is nearly impossible for him to get down any further, and maybe quite as impossible to rise again. Fancy telling his daughter that it is highly improper to carry on the acquaintance with Mr. Clennam now.

As to who should play Little Dorrit, I could imagine Joan Fontaine, the younger sister of Olivia de Havilland (Olivia de Havilland will be celebrating her 100th birthday on the first of July, by the way). Joan Fontaine I'd choose because of her performance in "Rebecca". I could also imagine Gail Russell being a good Little Dorrit.

What do you think of Robert Morley as Mr. Dorrit?


Tristram Shandy I, too, found the insight into Dickens's mind at work very intriguing, and I would never have noticed that Dickens's inventive genius was experiencing some minor crisis when writing Little Dorrit. Quite on the contrary, I mean it is not as complex as Bleak House, which is my all-time favourite, but I was wondering how many different characters Dickens introduces into his story, how carefully he prepared the structure of the novel - e.g. the two different sets of travelling companions -, and how brilliant the use of symbols is - e.g. the different kinds of prison we encounter in the course of the novel. I find the later half of Dickens's work, starting from Dombey and Son much more convincing than the first half, but I can, on second thoughts, imagine that at this point Dickens was suffering and probably feeling pressured from his own expecatations as to his performance as a writer. Apart from that, not only not disappointing but overwhelming the reading public will probably also have been a thought weighing on Dickens's mind.


message 19: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Peter wrote: "As you noted, Tristram, Dickens does a bit of a looped second verse that is the same as the first. (Does anyone else remember Herman and the Hermit's "Henry the VIII?)"

I almost forgot about this Peter:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4OS1...


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Chapter 3 sees our fellow travellers “On the Road” again when they all prepare to resume their respective journeys on the following morning. Mr. Tip has a little conv..."

I don't follow movies that much. I will take your word for the actors. Now, the real question is who do we see ourselves as in a Dickens novel? That perhaps, should always remain a mystery.


Peter Kim wrote: "Peter wrote: "As you noted, Tristram, Dickens does a bit of a looped second verse that is the same as the first. (Does anyone else remember Herman and the Hermit's "Henry the VIII?)"

I almost forg..."


Ah, the memories come flooding back ... :-))


Tristram Shandy Peter, don't take my word for it ;-) but take a look at this clip with the two wonderful actors Robert Morley and Margaret Rutherford.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_-m-...

I like the part where he asks her, "Why are you dressed as a woman?"

And I'm sure we could also cast Margaret Rutherford for our Dickens movie.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter, don't take my word for it ;-) but take a look at this clip with the two wonderful actors Robert Morley and Margaret Rutherford.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_-m-...

I like the part ..."


Tristram

Thanks for the clip. In the back of my mind I am sure I have seen Robert Morley in a movie. And yes, a perfect Mr. Dorrit.

The "It's my pen name" line is quite funny.

If I ever travel to Germany and visit you I'm not sure whether I would want you to show me around your area or just sit on your couch and get a classic movie education.


Tristram Shandy If you knew my area, you'd go for the movies. You'd probably do the same if you knew my movie collection ;-)


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I particularly marvelled at Dickens's skilled writing of the first chapter of this second part, which echoes the second chapter of Part 1 in its title, "Fellow Travellers", as Tristram already pointed out. Great description of ghosts - and remains - of earlier travellers, introduces the "living travellers ... an elderly lady, two grey-haired gentlemen, two young ladies and their brother" plus all their necessary entourage.

We have various references such as "Chief of the important tribe" "the lofty gentleman" "the grey-haired gentleman who was the Chief of the important party", "the head of the large retinue"(whom we have immediately recognised by his manner-ha-of speech-hum- ) "the young gentleman", and "the taller of the two ladies". There's also someone in another party who pulls at his black moustache - who could that be?! An "insinuating traveller". This party also contains a couple "still partly on a marriage, and partly on an artistic tour", "a man of family", "an artist gentleman traveller" (more broad hints here.)

I also love this irony, "the space was so-ha-hum-so very contricted. More than that, it was always the same, always the same." And of course the host of the hotel rather rubs it in by repeating at length that Monsieur could not understand, not being used to confinement.

The "younger of the two ladies" so impressed by the beauty of the young wife ... "I like to look at her ... I like to see what has affected him so much".

And we find we know who she is, whom she is gazing at - and even which man is in her thoughts. What mastery of writing!

I thought it was very effective, the way Dickens refers to each character by a sort of tag-name, and it is only right at the end that we have it confirmed which each of them is (although we are pretty sure in our own minds).

What a joy it is to read an entertainingly written account of English persons taking the Grand Tour, rather than the (in my opinion) interminably boring one in The Mysteries of Udolpho. It is Dickens who in this way imbues it all with mysteries!


Peter Jean wrote: "I particularly marvelled at Dickens's skilled writing of the first chapter of this second part, which echoes the second chapter of Part 1 in its title, "Fellow Travellers", as Tristram already poin..."

Ah, yes. The grand tour. It did seem to be the required activity for the well-to-do person/family. Often, I think, it was a kind of finishing school before marriage.

Now, in the 21C, it's just a bunch of tourists (just like my wife and I (:-) this past summer streaming off a cruise ship.


Tristram Shandy Yes, Jean, the labelling of the characters at the beginning of the second book and the decision to give their names at the very ending, and not before, is a stroke of genius. It also shows how well Dickens portrayed his characters because the attentive reader will probably be able to identify them by and by. I identified Mr. Dorrit immediately - ha ... hum - and I must confess that the Insinuating Traveller puzzled me at first because, if I remember correctly, the moustache was introduced rather late. One clue might have been the readiness with which the Insinuating Traveller helped himself to all the food on the table.

I wonder about The Myteries of Udolpho, though. I bought the book a couple of days ago and hope it is not that bad, Jean?


message 28: by Bionic Jean (last edited Aug 26, 2016 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Peter - yes, "The Grand Tour" is an odd tradition! I expect it was just because travelling was so rare, that it was seen as being for an exclusive few, educating themselves by seeing the sights and soaking up the culture.

Tristram - prolix would be the word... I have a shelf just for that one as I still haven't got further than a quarter through. If the writing was better perhaps I wouldn't be so bored. I felt I couldn't read it fast enough! The punctuation leaves a lot to be desired too, as I remember.

On the other hand Ann Radcliffe is probably a lot better than all the other writers in The Complete Northanger Horrid Novel Collection. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts, Tristram, as you know a lot more about this period of literature than I!


Tristram Shandy Jean, I don't think I really know more about Gothic literature than you because with the exception of Ann Radcliffe, all the other authors named in that collection are unknown to me. It is quite interesting, though, that some of the titles indicate a German setting. Apparently, Germany was considered a dark and mysterious country by writers of Gothic fiction. Just think of the novel Frankenstein.

If you really want to read a novelist whose style is unbearable because he just had no talent at all, but whose stories in themselves are not without interest, you should try Charles Brockden Brown - in case you have not tried one of his books already.


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I hadn't heard of him, but am tempted to say, "Thanks, but no thanks" ... LOL! Perhaps once I've ploughed through the rest of The Mysteries of Udolpho ... Or maybe not. I got bored just reading through the bio of him on Goodreads :D


message 31: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I've read them both and remember neither, I wonder if that means anything. :-)


Tristram Shandy Kim, if you can't remember them, they cannot have been that bad ... neither, of course, can they have been that good ;-)


back to top