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Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics) by Charles…
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Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics) (edition 2003)

by Charles Dickens, Philip Horne (Contributor)

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14,963152130 (3.84)654
Member:hemlokgang
Title:Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Charles Dickens
Other authors:Philip Horne (Contributor)
Info:Penguin Classics (2003), Paperback, 608 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:1001, Film, England

Work details

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

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    Waldstein: Another look at Victorian corruption and crime. More comprehensive and more sinister.
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Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
The classic tale of Oliver Twist, who's mother died the night he was born leaving him an orphan in the care of the parochial workhouse - a place where paupers were sent and generally given only enough food to keep them working and alive (and oftentimes not even that much!). But when young Oliver dares to ask for "a little more" it is determined that the workhouse can no longer keep such an ungrateful child. He is sent to work as an apprentice for the undertaker, but due to some very rude treatment he runs away, eventually finding himself in London in the care of Fagin. Fagin is a cunning and hideous old man who runs a gang of thieves and pickpockets, and is intent on teaching Oliver the art and making him a member of the gang.

So begins Dickens' classic story of Oliver's struggle to shake off the miserable circumstances placed upon him at birth and find his place in the world. Initially very depressing, with it's forceful depictions of the sorry state of the poor in mid 19th century England, the writing is throughout rather sarcastic, which was probably meant as a social commentary on the various classes. But there is humor and happiness along with the sadness, as various events coincide to help Oliver along his way. And while Dickens is sometimes criticized for a business-like approach to his writing, it's obvious why this book is still considered a classic so many years after it was written. A thoroughly enjoyable book and well worth the time. ( )
  J.Green | Nov 22, 2016 |
A must read for Saigon Star readers keen to have a taste of Dickens ( )
  SAIGONSTAR | Nov 3, 2016 |
Not my favorite Dickens novel, but still worth reading. ( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
The second stop on my tour of Dickens’s novel-length fiction, Oliver Twist is not one of my favourites, but it is perhaps one of his most memorable. Its strengths lie solidly in its opening: Where the first of Dickens’s novels, The Pickwick Papers, began in a way rambling and bucolic, the opening chapters of Oliver Twist are a swift introduction to Dickens’s acerbic wit. He manages to elicit simultaneous laughter and disgust with his descriptions of situations, and people, so horrifying, like the unfortunate expiration of most of the orphans left in the care of Mrs. Mann, the woman who raises Oliver until he is old enough to enter the workhouse, just as she’s close to getting the poor mites to subsist on nothing but air. Every authority figure to whom little Oliver can look for succour is unflinchingly self-important and corrupt, and Dickens lays bare his contempt for the workhouses, the officials, and the New Poor Law that condemns so many, including orphans like Oliver, to starve in their halls.

Though not exactly like Oliver, because Oliver isn’t much of a person. Dickens is sometimes criticised for a perceived lack of depth in his characterisation, and it’s a criticism I tend not to agree with very much, because I think that most of his protagonists, be they Nicholas Nickleby or David Copperfield or Pip, have a distinct sense of corporeality to them drawn from Dickens’s own character. Oliver, though, brings little of that to the page. He begins his journey as a figure too saintly to be true, whose lack of agency is couched in piteousness too overwrought to elicit quite as much sympathy as it ought. It’s not a terrible starting point balanced against the fire of Dickens’s anger and the bite of his sarcasm, but I rather expected to see Oliver come into his own upon acquiring more worldly experience.

For a while, it looks like he will, with his introduction to the lively cast of Fagin’s crew. Fagin himself was a problematic character even to some of Dickens’s contemporaries, leading him to edit later editions of the book and be more conscious of his attitudes towards the Jewish community; to the modern reader, the blatant ethnic stereotyping and the literally devilish qualities assigned to the character are downright offensive. But the early days of Oliver’s time with him remain some of the better chapters of the novel nonetheless, because while the workhouse setting is the ideal channel for Oliver Twist’s social commentary, this is where it briefly becomes a character-led story, and what characters there are to lead it. I will forever wish the Artful Dodger might’ve had his own tale, though other authors have since walked that path; he commands every page he’s on, and for such a memorable personage, there are too few of those. I like to imagine a tale in which Oliver benefitted from exposure to his streetwise smarts and used them to seize some agency of his own, and find a way out from under Fagin’s thumb.

What we get instead is an Oliver who fades into the background of his own story until he is a pawn shuttled about so much that his passivity, his wide-eyed innocence, becomes grating. I think this is an area where the serialisation hurt the story, because that initial fire is given time to gutter out. Once the Maylies come into the picture it feels a little like Dickens lost interest in telling the story of Oliver Twist as opposed to writing one of his more painful odes to his late sister-in-law, complete with melodramatic laments from a fallen woman on never having the opportunity to be more like the character who represents her. Oliver is the means through which the latter half of the story comes about, but it is not his story.

I think Dickens also undermined his portrayal of the plight of the poor by giving Oliver a background of secret wealth, the better to tie things up in a bow full of happy endings. It suggests that the reason Oliver was worth saving is because he was someone all along, someone of money and society even if he didn’t know it, rather than supporting the notion that everyone’s essential rights, needs, and human dignity are worth recognition and support.

Almost everything that Dickens does in Oliver Twist, he does better somewhere else. That makes it difficult to articulate why it’s a book to which the memory clings so hard. Perhaps it’s the legion of adaptations it’s inspired, which gives more life to the sometimes lifeless page, though I then ask myself what made the book capture so many imaginations that it led to all of those adaptations in the first place. Perhaps it’s just the young man’s fire with which it’s written, since Dickens was only in his mid-twenties when he authored it. It’s certainly one of his angriest books, and after reading, it’s hard not to feel a shadow of that in your chest when you think of the phrase ‘Please, sir, I want some more’.

Review from Bookette.net ( )
  Snumpus | Aug 10, 2016 |
A classic.
A tragedy.
A horror.
A love story.
A fairytale.
'Oliver Twist' is the bleakest and brightest of tales. Charles Dickens weaves all of the elements for a gripping story into his book. What I love most, however, is Mr. Dickens' ability to paint a world, a character, a situation, a single sentiment with nothing but words. It was a treat and an education reading this book. The characters are vivid. They are awful and delightful. Throughout the reading are included words of wisdom--quotes which I paused to highlight. I will reread them time and again. I highly recommend this book to all story lovers. It is a masterpiece. ( )
  REGoodrich | Aug 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 139 (next | show all)
Oliver Twist, a meek, mild young boy, is born in the workhouse and spends his early years there until, finding the audacity to ask for more food, he is made to leave. Apprenticed to an undertaker by Mr Bumble, Oliver runs away in desperation and falls in with Fagin and his gang of thieves where he begins his new life in the criminal underworld.

Under the tutelage of the satanic Fagin, the brutal Bill Sikes and the wily Artful Dodger, Oliver learns to survive, although he is destined not to stay with Fagin but to find his own place in the world.

With its terrifying evocation of the hypocrisy of the wealthy and the depths to which poverty pushes the human spirit, Oliver Twist is both a fascinating examination of evil and a poignant moving novel for all times.
added by letonia | editPenguin Popular Classics
 

» Add other authors (289 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Charles Dickensprimary authorall editionscalculated
Cruikshank, GeorgeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fairclough, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ghiuselev, IassenIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hayens, KennethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heilig, Matthias R.abridged bysecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hoppé, E.O.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horne, PhillipEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
House, HumphryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, IrvingIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, EdgarIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kelk, C.J.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Le Comte, EdwardAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leopoldo de Verneuil, EnriqueTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Méndez Herrera, JoséTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mahoneij, J.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Margolyes, MiriamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nix, GarthIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Slater, MichaelIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Lawrence BeallIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, AngusIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.
Quotations
Please, sir, I want some more.
If the law supposes that, the law is a ass-- a idiot.
What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It's quite enough that we let 'em have live bodies.
"We have none of us long to wait for Death. Patience, patience! He'll be here soon enough for us all."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439742, Paperback)

The story of the orphan Oliver, who runs away from the workhouse only to be taken in by a den of thieves, shocked readers when it was first published. Dickens's tale of childhood innocence beset by evil depicts the dark criminal underworld of a London peopled by vivid and memorable characters—the arch-villain Fagin, the artful Dodger, the menacing Bill Sikes and the prostitute Nancy. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:01 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Scathing in its indictment of a cruel society and pervaded by a sense of threat and mystery, this novel is peopled with some of the most famous characters in literature. Elements of the Gothic Romance jostle with those of the Newgate novel and popular melodrama forging a style entirely Dickens'.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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8 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

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