Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit, Chapter 24

'Mr F. was so devoted to me that he never could bear me out of his sight,’ said Flora, ‘though of course I am unable to say how long that might have lasted if he hadn’t been cut short while I was a new broom, worthy man but not poetical manly prose but not romance.'

What does "worthy man but not poetical manly prose but not romance" mean?

  • 2
    I suspect it's missing a few punctuation marks.
    – Mary
    Jun 30, 2022 at 1:54
  • 5
    Please format and tag your questions properly when posting. This is not the first time someone has had to do it. It's not even the first time you've been asked. Putting a little effort towards making your question readable is the least you could do to be polite when asking us to answer your questions.
    – bobble
    Jun 30, 2022 at 5:18

1 Answer 1


What does "worthy man but not poetical manly prose but not romance" mean?

First off we notice that Dickens' text lacks proper punctuation. In correct form the text would have to look like this:

worthy man but not poetical, manly prose but not romance

Since other parts of Flora's dialogue are written in the same way, we have to conclude it is a stylistic choice and not just neglect.

From there on, the meaning is quite clear: Flora reminisces about her dead husband, who was more or less ok but didn't exactly cause her bells to ring.

  • 4
    All of Flora's dialog is like this (see chapter 24 here), so it's a deliberate choice. "Romance, however, as I openly said to Mr F. when he proposed to me and you will be surprised to hear that he proposed seven times once in a hackney-coach once in a boat once in a pew once on a donkey at Tunbridge Wells and the rest on his knees [...]" Jun 30, 2022 at 12:52
  • 1
    There are a couple of editions on Google Books which use the same punctuation, so I think we can indeed assume Dickens meant it to be like that.
    – Stuart F
    Jul 1, 2022 at 14:43
  • 1
    Could you please edit this answer, taking into account the comments above, to indicate that Dickens did in fact, as a deliberate stylistic choice, write Flora's dialogue without punctuation that would usually be necessary? The main point of the answer is correct, but in its current form it suggests that the passage in the OP is a misquote, which it isn't.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 27, 2022 at 13:56
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor: did so.
    – bakunin
    Nov 28, 2022 at 7:56
  • 1
    And upvoted :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 28, 2022 at 8:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.