Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: 2003 (first published in 1838)
Pages: 554 pages
Genres: Classic | Literature
‘Let him feel that he is one of us; once fill his mind with the idea that he has been a thief, and he’s ours, – ours for his life!’
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, in Oliver Twist 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.
This is the first critical edition to use the serial text of 1837-9, presenting Oliver Twist as it appeared to its earliest readers. It includes Dickens’s 1841 introduction and 1850 preface, the original illustrations and a glossary of contemporary slang.
I just finished Oliver Twist at school this afternoon. This was one of the books I planned to read to complete this year’s Bibliophilia Reading Challenge of 25 books. I already read two books so far, the first one was Where She Went (which I’m going to review after I do one of If I Stay) to complete one of the challanges, “Books with More than 100 Pages”. Oliver Twist was the second book I read and the challenge I completed was “Books from 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list”.
Oliver is born in a workhouse and grows with childhood horror. He doesn’t get any true attention from his single mother who leaves him alone. He works for the mean workhouse’s head. He treats children with abuse and only allowed his workers (who are mostly children) to eat plain soup everyday. One day, Oliver asks for more soup and the cook is angry and hit him hard with no humanity. The workhouse’s head thinks Oliver is a burden, so he sells him to a thief with a good deal. Oliver feels so depressed he plans to runaway. But as the time goes, people search for him like he has a valuable mystery.
“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.”
Like most of Charles Dickens’s works, this book is the one with many complicated genres. It also contains social injustices, cruelty, and a clever plot. Even though the story is much darker than I think, it still has a kind of attraction that made me have to bring the book to school and read it in lessons. Oops.
The writer explains things beautifully (well of course, he is Dickens). Perfect selection of words to define the moment and it can seem quite difficult for modern readers in my opinion but I think they can learn much from it.
Oliver itself is not a very interesting character, I like Fagin and Nancy more. Fagin is a nightmare for children, especially for Oliver. I really like him not because he’s very vicious but he has a strong character which gives people terrifying memories of terror. Dickens has successfully created Fagin. Once I hated Nancy but as it goes along I understand her as a complex character. She’s also very selfless and surprisingly full of love.
I loved the way this book made me feel. The storyline was not my thing, but I didn’t regret reading this. It made me understand this world a little better from knowing the real society from Dicken’s perspective. Not my kind of read, but it’s a nice Classic!