Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.

A blazing sun upon a fierce August day was no greater rarity in southern France then, than at any other time, before or since. Every thing in Marseilles, and about Marseilles, had stared at the fervid sky, and been stared at in return, until a staring habit had become universal there. Strangers were stared out of countenance by staring white houses, staring white walls, staring white streets, staring tracts of arid road, staring hills from which verdure was burnt away. The only things to be seen not fixedly staring and glaring were the vines drooping under their loads of grapes. These did occasionally wink a little, as the hot air barely moved their faint leaves.

Opening lines from Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens

1 thought on “Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.”

  1. I didn’t read this one, but it occurs to me that Dickens expected an educated reading public that could handle and appreciate literary stories.

    We seem to have lost that expectation, at least of the general public. Sad.

    I know I expect it of my readers. I try to be clear and graceful in my writing, making the effort for those who will appreciate it. But I’m always fighting the feeling that it is not the fastest and the most populist way to tell stories, and it means I’m writing for a much smaller percentage of the reading public.

    Most of my Dickens is way in my past, but you just raised my estimation of his work. I need to go back and refresh our acquaintanceship.

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