This is from Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, Chapter 16:

The expressionless uniform twenty houses, all to be knocked at and rung at in the same form, all approachable by the same dull steps, all fended off by the same pattern of railing, all with the same impracticable fire-escapes, the same inconvenient fixtures in their heads, and everything without exception to be taken at a high valuation—who has not dined with these?

What does the "who has not dined with these?" mean?

1 Answer 1


The bit immediately prior to your quote reads:

Indeed, the mansions and their inhabitants were so much alike in that respect, that the people were often to be found drawn up on opposite sides of dinner-tables, in the shade of their own loftiness, staring at the other side of the way with the dullness of the houses.

Everybody knows how like the street the two dinner-rows of people who take their stand by the street will be.

Dickens is comparing the inhabitants with the houses in the terrace. Therefore the question “who has not dined with these” is a rhetorical one intended to give his readers comfort that he, and they, have suffered such mundane company, but are not of that company.

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