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Oliver Twist (Barnes & Noble Classics) by…

Oliver Twist (Barnes & Noble Classics) (edition 2004)

by Charles Dickens, Jill Muller (Introduction)

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15,538158118 (3.85)687
Title:Oliver Twist (Barnes & Noble Classics)
Authors:Charles Dickens
Other authors:Jill Muller (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2004), Paperback, 512 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

  1. 31
    Jack Dawkins by Charlton Daines (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Unauthorised sequel about the life of the Artful Dodger as an adult when he returns to England.
  2. 86
    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Leishai)
  3. 11
    Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (swampygirl)
  4. 11
    The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti (derelicious)
  5. 12
    The Adventures of Nathaniel Swubble: The Story of a Parish Boy's Childhood by Lilian Margaret Spencer (millylitre)
  6. 13
    The Great Train Robbery by Michael Crichton (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Another look at Victorian corruption and crime. More comprehensive and more sinister.
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I heard it said somewhere once that a first novel is always the author's most personal. Not so with Dickens, who had to let his thoughts churn over the concept behind "Oliver Twist" while experimenting with the earlier "Sketches by Boz" and "Pickwick Papers." It can definitely be said, though, that "Oliver Twist" is the first novel that Dickens gets right. Instead of feeling like you're reading chapters in isolation that stretch the story for the sake of getting paid for additional instalments, everything fits together beautifully. The plot is by turns tragic, comical, philosophical, romantic, and suspenseful. Dickens manages to follow different characters on their own particular arcs rather than just presenting everything through Oliver's point of view, but there are very few sections that feel like they are dragging the reader away from the main story. The message reflects the developing sensibilities of the new Victorian era while addressing concerns about poverty, morality, and charity that remain relevant to this day. In spite of its time period, however, it shows progressive tendencies, most notably in the excellent characterisation of Nancy, a vast improvement over all the simpering and fainting women of "Pickwick Papers." And while the story is very likely familiar from a number of different adaptations, I found that the author was still able to pull me out of the cynicism of saying "yes, I know what's going to happen" and to surprise me, both in terms of plot details and style. This is a book that stands in conversation with the author's later works and with the other great works of literature that take on the moral questions of their time. It has, as Calvino said, never finished saying what it has to say. ( )
  quaintlittlehead | Jul 2, 2017 |
It took me extra days to read this book because I kept putting it down since poor Oliver couldn't catch a sustained break and it depressed me so that I couldn't continue. Then I'd pick it up and read a few chapters until he was in terrible trouble again and put it down. Repeat. Repeat. Basically, I loved this naive, good hearted boy and wanted him to have a warm, safe, close family to protect him and Mr. Dickens was giving it to me fast enough. Meanwhile, Dickens was teaching me how terrible England was in the early 19th century for orphaned or poor children. I appreciate the education, but it was a heartbreaking read. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Jan 21, 2017 |
Language was awesome. The story was not connected enough and the point that the author intended to place, that morality in not class dependent was not fulfilled. ( )
  pjulian | Jan 4, 2017 |
Oliver Twist. The injustice. The hypocrisy. The melodrama.

There is something so satisfyingly symmetrical about reading Oliver Twist in the very week that one of America's most perniciously vicious public moralizers - and by that phrase, I mean the Duggar family - completely and hopefully irrevocably implodes. It is a reminder that hypocrisy is older than Dickens and that farce is just as common in real life as it is in fiction.

Oliver Twist, scholarship has it, was written in response to the Poor Law of 1834, which changed British law in such a way that those who were poor would only receive relief within workhouses, and "outdoor relief" was abolished. "Outdoor relief" was the practice of providing assistance to those in poverty in the form of money, food or clothing that was provided without the requirement that the recipient enter an institution. It was replaced with "indoor relief" which required that, in order to be eligible, the individual recipient must enter a workhouse or poorhouse. The idea behind the requirement of indoor relief was that the workhouses would be so miserable, so dehumanizing that only the utterly indigent would accept it as it would be - marginally - better than actually starving to death. To call it harsh would be to understate it dramatically.

When I started my classics club project back in September, 2012, I intended to read all of Dickens before it ended in September, 2017. I've not had great success with this endeavor - I've managed only The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Dombey and Son, and now Oliver Twist so far. In the interim, I've read a lot of other Victorian literature, though: Trollope (4 out of the 6 of the Chronicles of Barsetshire), Gaskell, Anne and Charlotte Bronte, Doyle, and Hardy, George Eliot. I think that it has taken a while to accustom my brain to the language of Victorian novels, and Dickens seems harder than the others because he is more satirical and more melodramatic than the preceding authors. Because Oliver Twist was a much easier read to accomplish than the others, and I'm hoping that I've broken the back of my aversion to Dickens.

Everyone knows the story of Oliver Twist. It is one of those books that has transcended its boundaries and become part of our collective consciousness. Bill and Nancy, Fagin, the Artful Dodger and Oliver himself are all characters who nearly seem to exist outside the boundaries of fiction. So, I'm not going to talk a lot about the plot, and am just going to mention a few things that I found interesting.

First, Dickens takes aim, particularly, at hypocrisy, and especially at hypocrisy within the framework of the workhouses. All of his parish government characters are rank hypocrites, from Mr. Bumble, the "porochial beadle," a minor functionary who assists with the parish workhouse (and the recipient of the famed request by Oliver for a bit more gruel) to Mrs. Mann, the matron of the workhouse who nearly starves her charges to death. As these officials are depriving the recipients of their charity to the point of incapacitation, they are, themselves, profiting from the misery which they inflict.

Second, the murder scene where Bill Sikes beats the prostitute, Nancy (one of few morally ambiguous characters in the novel) to death is based on the real murder of Eliza Grimwood in 1838. The Guardian published an interesting article on the subject here. The chapter which describes the murder is extremely graphic, especially given the time period of publication, and resulted in accusations that Dickens was being overly melodramatic, which apparently irritated him, since he toned down things a bit from the real murder.

Third, I found it interesting that Oliver Twist, in the end, is discovered to have an background that is upper-class, which, to some degree, is a cheap ending for me. The whole idea that, because of his gentle birth he is capable of resisting the moral decay of the slums may have resonated with Victorian readers, and even with Dickens himself, but it doesn't resonate to my more modern sensibilities that reject the notion of inherent nobility of character being passed through bloodlines to manifest regardless of the circumstances of upbringing. It is a primitive look at "nature" versus "nurture," and one that I found interesting but ultimately unsatisfying.

This is my 49th classic in slightly less than three years (you can find my complete list here), which means that I have only one more to read to finish my Classics Club challenge two years early (by September 1), although I still have 6 posts to write as well. I need a short one to put this thing to bed. ( )
1 vote moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
a young boy is brought up on the streets but taken in by kind people. Goes through various struggles and ends up being the rightful heir to a deadman. More of a social commentary on the workhouses of the times. Horrible places and run by hypocrites. Young Oliver is an innocent and a joy to read about. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 144 (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
Allen, Walter ErnestPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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.
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)

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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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Penguin Australia

7 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439742, 0451529715, 0141031719, 0141322438, 0141192496, 0141198885, 1409311252

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