To me that says a lot I just could never get into it Perhaps if I d not seen the film I would have enjoyed the storyI may have seen the charmless characters as part of Dickens attack on society and its lack of social justice Instead I just saw them for what they were charmless.
There s just a certain lack of life within these pages Oliver, the protagonist, is somewhat unlikable himself And that s odd He just did not have a great deal about him other than a child s curiosity and a will to survive on the harsh streets of Victorian London I sympathised with him where I could, I felt sorry for his situation, though I never liked him So that made the book hard to read from the start I was not remotely invested in him For example if you compare this to another popular work of the era Jane Eyre, you will see how poor Dicken s characterisation is From the get go the reader is made to care for Jane and her plight Her story drives the narrative forward The social obstacles she faces feel like obstacles they don t define the story she does With Oliver I felt like it was the other way round and I simply could not enjoy the book as a result You have no idea how relieved I was to finish this today My battle is over I was determined to finish it Getting through Ulysses was easier than this.
A Gripping Portrayal Of London S Dark Criminal Underbelly, Published In Penguin Classics With An Introduction By Philip HorneThe Story Of Oliver Twist Orphaned, And Set Upon By Evil And Adversity From His First Breath Shocked Readers When It Was Published After Running Away From The Workhouse And Pompous Beadle Mr Bumble, Oliver Finds Himself Lured Into A Den Of Thieves Peopled By Vivid And Memorable Characters The Artful Dodger, Vicious Burglar Bill Sikes, His Dog Bull S Eye, And Prostitute Nancy, All Watched Over By Cunning Master Thief Fagin 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 MysteryThis Penguin Classics Edition Of Oliver Twist Is The First Critical Edition To Faithfully Reproduce The Text As Its Earliest Readers Would Have Encountered It From Its Serialisation In Bentley S Miscellany, And Includes An Introduction By Philip Horne, A Glossary Of Victorian Thieves Slang, A Chronology Of Dickens S Life, A Map Of Contemporary London And All Of George Cruikshank S original IllustrationsFor Than Seventy Years, Penguin Has Been The Leading Publisher Of Classic Literature In The English Speaking World With Than , Titles, Penguin Classics Represents A Global bookshelf Of The Best Works Throughout History And Across Genres And Disciplines Readers Trust The Series To Provide Authoritative Texts Enhanced By Introductions And Notes By Distinguished Scholars And Contemporary Authors, As Well As Up To Date Translations By Award Winning Translators I swear Dickens named one of his characters Master Bates on purpose.
What s a prostitute A student in the library asked me that, and I was baffled for two reasons First of all, I thought that teenagers are well informed nowadays, and I also thought she was reading in a corner, not surfing the internet in the work area where I imagined she would come across the term As so often, I was wrong on all accounts, which I realised when I explained that a prostitute is a woman selling her body, and received the reply Ah, you mean a whore, why can t Dickens just say that then and stop using all these fancy words The student waved a copy of Oliver Twist in front of me, and I couldn t help laughing out loud, feeling somehow transported into a Dickensian situation And before I knew it, I had checked out another copy of it to a student listening in on the conversation I bet he wanted to enhance his vocabulary skills and I don t mind at all Please, Sir, I want some I have seen the 1968 academy award winning musical film Oliver so many times that we eventually just bought the DVD David Lean s 1948 film starring Alec Guinness as Fagan and Robert Newton as Bill Sykes is another favorite These film adaptations are so ubiquitous and so endearing that it is easy to forget what a rare accomplishment was Dickens original novel One of Dickens earliest novels and like most was first published as a series of installments, Oliver Twist begins Dickens brilliant career of creating memorable characters and of describing some of his most universal themes such as orphanage, poverty, and juvenile perseverance and nobility while at the same time ruthlessly satirizing adult evils and social ills Oliver Twist introduces readers to some of the most recognizable characters in all of literature including Fagan, Bill Sykes and the Artful Dodger 2018 Then winter seems like a great time to read Dickens as the long nights and cold days seem to engender a feeling of those Victorian times One character that I frequently recall from this book is Nancy, Bill Sykes unfortunate victim Dickens introduces her as A couple of young ladies called to see the young gentlemen one of whom was named Bet, and the other Nancy They wore a good deal of hair, not very neatly turned up behind, and were rather untidy about the shoes and stockings They were not exactly pretty, perhaps but they had a great deal of colour in their faces, and looked quite stout and hearty It is Nancy s protection of Oliver, and her subsequent condemnation by Fagin and then Sykes that forms Dickens most compelling scenes.
Oliver Twist is one of Charles Dickens s best known stories Characters such as the evil Fagin, with his band of thieves and villains, the Artful Dodger withall the airs and manners of a man,the house breaker Sikes and his dog, the conscience stricken but flawed Nancy, the frail but determined Oliver, and the arrogant and hypocritical beadle Mr Bumble have taken on a life of their own and passed into our culture Who does not recognise the sentence,Please sir, I want some orIf the law says that, then the law is a ass a idiot If that s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience by experience Dramatisations of this story abound, and there have been 25 films made of itso far Oliver Twist was appearing in 10 theatres in London before serialisation of the novel was even completed, so how does the original novel hold up for a modern reader It seems pointless in this review to retell this famous story The excellent film by David Lean from 1948 is one of the most faithful to the book It stars Alec Guinness as Fagin, Robert Newton as Bill Sikes and a young John Howard Davies as Oliver Twist Davis went on to work for the BBC as a producer all his life The subplot with Edward Leeman is largely missed out, but that is inevitable in a short dramatisation The essence of the story is there, and is true to Dickens, as is much of his dialogue It s important to look not only at the writing style and construction, but at the social conditions of the time and Dickens s own personal situation Oliver Twist or the Parish Boy s Progress was written when he was only 25, and first published serially inBentley s Miscellanywhere Dickens was editor, from February 1837 to April 1839 Interestingly though, it was not originally intended as a novel but as part of a series of sketches called theMudfog PapersThese were intended to be similar to the very popularPickwick Papers , Mudfog being heavily based on Chatham, in KentThe Pickwick Papershad been phenomenally successful, making Dickens famous He therefore decided to give up his job as a parliamentary reporter and journalist in November 1836, and to become a freelance writer But whileThe Pickwick Paperswas still only halfway through being serialised, his readers clamoured for a second novel.
There must have been a lot of pressure on the young author to maintain such a high standard In addition to his writing and editing, Dickens s personal life at the time was typically hectic In March 1837 he moved house Two months later, his beloved sister in law Mary Hogarth died tragically young The grief he felt caused him to miss the deadlines for bothThe Pickwick Papersand Oliver Twist the only deadlines he ever missed in his entire writing career Four months later in October, the final issue of Pickwick was published, but the pressure did not let up In January of 1838, Dickens and his friend Hablot Knight Browne Phiz left for Yorkshire to do research for his next novel,Nicholas Nicklebywhich itself started to be serialised two months later Interestingly it was not Browne who illustrated Oliver Twist, although he had stepped into the breach before see my review ofThe Pickwick Papersand also went on to illustrate most of Dickens s further novels It was George Cruikshank, and this is the only novel of Dickens he illustrated but that is another dramatic story Also in March, Dickens s daughter Mary Mamie was born In November Dickens revised the monthly parts of Oliver Twist for the 3 volume book version, the first instance where he was published under Charles Dickens instead of Boz The serial continued until April 1839, alongside serialisation of Nicholas Nickleby If we think that the novel s structure may not be as we would wish, it is as well to bear in mind the constraints both of the time and of Dickens s own incredibly complicated personal circumstances Oliver Twist is very much the novel an angry young man would write, seething with fury at the social injustices he observed It follows hot on the heels of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, and the whole novel is a bitter indictment of that Act, even to its satirical subtitle, A Parish Boy s Progress This Act was a draconian tightening up of the Poor Law, ensuring that poor people were no longer able to live at home and work at outside jobs The only help from the parish available to them now was to become inmates in the workhouse, which operated on the principle that poverty was the consequence of laziness the dreadful conditions in the workhouse were intended to inspire the poor to better their own circumstances.
Dickens himself in these chapters constantly makes negative remarks aboutphilosophersin this context It is possible he was thinking about the principles of Utilitarianism a fashionable philosophy of the time, responsible for such things as the high positioning of windows in many Victorian buildings, placed so that children and workers would not be distracted by looking out of them According to Jeremy Bentham, man s actions were governed by the will to avoid pain and strive for pleasure, so the government s task was to increase the benefits of society by punishing and rewarding people according to their actions.
But as Dickens tells us with bitter sarcasm in chapter 2, the workhouse was littlethan a prison for the poor Civil liberties were denied, families were separated, and human dignity was destroyed The inadequate diet instituted in the workhouse prompted his ironic comment that,all poor people should have the alternative of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it The workhouse functions here as a sign of the moral hypocrisy of the working class The authorities in charge of the workhouse joke among themselves about feeding minute portions so that the inmates would stay small and thin, thereby needing smaller coffins They complain about having to pay for burials, again hoping for smaller corpses to bury Dickens writes a passionate diatribe against both the social conditions and the institutions His humour is there, but it is a very black biting humour Sarcasm and irony are on every page it s a far cry fromThe Pickwick PapersIn these scenes set in the workhouse, Dickens makes use of deep satire and hyperbolic statements Absurd characters and situations are presented as normal he uses heavy sarcasm, often saying the opposite of what he really means For example, in describing the men of the parish board, Dickens writes that,they were very sage, deep, philosophical men who discover about the workhouse that the poor people liked it It was a regular place of public entertainment for the poorer classes a tavern where there was nothing to pay The other recent legislation which is clearly in Dickens s mind in writing this novel, is the Anatomy Act of 1832 Before 1832, only the bodies of murderers could be legally be used for dissection by medical students This had been partly responsible for the brisk trade in bodysnatching But after the Anatomy Act, unclaimed bodies from prisons and workhouses were used The terrifying thought of having their bodies dissected after death became yet another powerful deterrent to entering the workhouse system Dickens is clearly thinking of this recent Act in the first few pages, when Oliver s mother s body disappears The fact that the poor young woman who dies in its opening pages was being dissected while her son was being starved has a grotesque significance.
There is quite a marked difference in style when the character of Oliver moves away from the workhouse The author s voice becomes less acrimonious and bitter There isconcentration on the story and alsogross exaggeration of the characters for comic effect rather than proselytising Apparently when Dickens was writing instalments of bothThe Pickwick Papersand Oliver Twist, he would sit down to write the sardonic early episodes of Oliver Twist first, and then reward himself with a little light relief ofThe Pickwick PapersThe change in style probably coincides with the conclusion ofThe Pickwick Papers .
Surprisingly many of the grotesque characters were based on people in real life, who performed similar unbelievably atrocious acts The character of Fagin, for instance, was modelled on a notorious Jewish fence by the name of Ikey Solomon Dickens also sited him in a real location, where the notorious eighteenth century thief Jonathan Wild had his hideout Its shops were well known for selling silk handkerchiefs bought from pickpockets Dickens letters allude to this,when my handkerchief is gone, that I may see it flaunting with renovated beauty in Field laneThere s also the ruthless magistrateMr Fang , who is entirely based on an actual person who could well have been evensevere in reality In a letter dated June 3, 1837, Dickens wrote to his friend Thomas Haines,In my next number of Oliver Twist, I must have a magistratewhose harshness and insolence would render him a fit subject to be shewn up I havestumbled upon Mr Laing of Hatton Garden celebrityLaing was a police magistrate, but was dismissed by the Home Secretary for abuse of his power Dickens even went so far as to ask Haines, who was an influential police reporter, to smuggle him into the office so he could get an accurate physical description of Laing It makes the reader wonder whether Mrs Corney, Mrs Sowerberry , and others also have their counterparts in reality Dickens had previously studied and sketched the office of beadle inSketches by Boz , so the harsh hypocritical behaviour of Mr Bumble could well have started with that.
Some of the action too is based on real events For example, when Nancy went to the gaol to enquire after Oliver, she had a conversation with a prisoner who was in there for playing the flute This sounds very far fetched But in November 1835, Dickens had reported on Mr Laing throwing a muffin boy in jailfor ringing a muffin bell in Hatton Garden while Laing s court was sittingAgain the reader wonders if other parts of Dickens s story had some basis in fact It says a lot for Dickens s prodigious talent that he could take such examples and weave them into such a captivating whole Sometimes he employs deus ex machina.
Where the plot seems to be impossible to resolve without a contrived and unexpected intervention, he will create some new event, character or object to surprise his audience, or as a comedic device For all the readers willing suspension of disbelief, it sometimes seems clear that Dickens has painted himself into a corner and sees no other way out Dickens is often criticised for his use of coincidence, and he uses deus ex machina here to bring the tale of Oliver Twist to a happy ending We are told that characters whom we have been following know each other, or happen to be related It does not really seem necessary to excuse the use of this device, as it has so many precedents in literature of the Ancient Greeks, and also gives us the happy ending we so much desire The goodies live happily ever after, the baddies get an entertaining variety of just desserts As well as the criticism of coincidences that is often levelled at Dickens, one of the main criticisms of Oliver Twist has always been the apparent antisemitism shown in the author s portrayal of Fagin as a dirty Jew Fagin is introduced in the first chapters Dickens often using symbols and descriptions which are normally reserved for the Devil When we first meet Fagin, we find him roasting some sausages on an open fire,with a toasting fork in his hand , which is then mentioned twiceIn the next chapter we find Fagin holding a fire shovel Also, the termthe merry old gentlemanseems to be a euphemistic term for the Devil.
In the original text it is clear that Fagin is a personification of evil, both by his intentions and by his behaviour,In short, the wily old Jew had the boy in his toils Having prepared his mind, by solitude and gloom, to prefer any society to the companionship of his own sad thoughts in such a dreary place, he was now slowly instilling into his soul the poison which he hoped would blacken it, and change its hue foreverAnd in this description he seems barely human,It seemed just the night when it befitted such a being as the Jew to be abroad As he glided stealthily along, creeping beneath the shelter of the walls and doorways, the hideous old man seemed like some loathsome reptile, engendered in the slime and darkness through which he moved crawling forth, by night, in search of some rich offal for a meal There is a further interpretation of Fagin Victorian society placed a lot of value and emphasis on industry, capitalism and individualism And who embodies this most successfully Fagin who operates in the illicit businesses of theft and prostitution His philosophy is that the group s interests are best maintained if every individual looks out for himself, saying,a regard for number one holds us all together, and must do so, unless we would all go to pieces in companyThis is indeed heavy irony on Dickens s part, and adds to Fagin s multi layered personality.
Apparently Dickens expressed surprise, when the Jewish community immediately complained about the depiction of Fagin Sadly, in 1837, antisemitism was still rife and ingrained into English society With all great authors we hope that they will somehow manage to step outside the s of their time, but maybe we expect too much Up to a point, Dickens did manage to do that later When he eventually came to sell his London residence, he sold the lease of Tavistock House to a Jewish family he had befriended, as an attempt to make restitutionLetters of Charles Dickens 1833 1870include this sentence in the narrative to 1860,This winter was the last spent at Tavistock HouseHe made arrangements for the sale of Tavistock House to Mr Davis, a Jewish gentleman, and he gave up possession of it in September There is other additional evidence of a rethink When editing Oliver Twist for theCharles Dickens editionof his works in 1846, he substantially revised the work for this single volume, eliminating most references to Fagin asthe JewAnd in his last completed novel,Our Mutual Friend , 1864 Dickens created Riah, a positive Jewish character There are not many shades of grey in this highly coloured melodrama Of the goodies and baddies it is the baddies whom we mostly remember Even Sikes s dog Bullseye falls into the baddies camp,Mr Sikes s dog, having faults of temper in common with his owner, and labouring, perhaps at this moment, under a powerful sense of injuryfixed his teeth in one of the halfbootsBy this amusing quip Dickens makes the dog a symbolic emblem of his owner s character He is vicious, just as Sikes has an animal like brutality In fact many of the characters are named according to their vices There is the vicious magistrate Mr Fang Mrs Mann who farms the infants sent to her, is named to show that she has none of the maternal instincts Dickens considers necessary for this task Mr Bumble is a greedy, arrogant, bumbling, hypocritical, procrastinator, proposing marriage by these words,Coals, candles and house rent freeOh Mrs Corney what a angel you are Such porochial perfectionBlathers and Duff are two fairly incompetent coppers and incidentally, possibly the earliest example in fiction of police detectives Rose Maylie echoes the character s association with flowers and springtime, youth and beauty Toby Crackit refers humorously to his chosen profession of breaking into houses The curmudgeonly Mr Grimwig has only a superficial grimness, which can be removed as easily as a wig.
But the main character s name of Oliver Twist is the most obvious example Although it was given him by accident, it alludes to the outrageous twists of fortune that he will experience Yet another connotation comes from an English card game called pontoon , where a player asks the dealer for cards to try to total exactly 21 points originally it was a French gambling game called vingt et un , and favoured by Napoleon, who died in 1821, well before this novel was written In the English version, the player asks forie another card, by saying the word,TwistDickens is clearly having a little joke with his readers Oliver Twist himself isn t a fully rounded character He isof a mouthpiece, or a character created to arouse public emotion and anger against the treatment of poor children The whole novel is a a vehicle of criticism, a social commentary entertaining but overcoloured and melodramatic It is very much the sort of thing Dickens would imagine performed on stage.
The hyperbole gets a bit much sometimes, and there are sentimental speeches such as this one from Little Dick, written entirely for effect, to pull at our heart strings,I heard them tell the doctor I was dying, replied the child with a faint smile I am very glad to see you, dear but don t stop I know the doctor must be right, Oliver, because I dream so much of Heaven, and Angels and kind faces that I never see when I am awake Kiss me Goodb ye dear God bless you Oliver Twist is a perfect example of persuasive fiction It is like a morality play in narrative form, with the author continually instructing his readers about the iniquities of social conditions But it has the faults of a young man s novel He has not yet learnt how to tailor his passions to the purpose, creating either characters as a sort of Everyman, or grotesques the comic characters we love so much.
Some of the writing is mawkishly oversentimental But some episodes are gripping view spoiler Fagin s desperate and terrified descent into madness when he is about to be hanged, and Sikes s murder of Nancy hide spoiler
It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being woundedWelcome to the 19th century The Industrial Revolution is in full flow Money is being made, the population is thriving The working class is suffering and the Poor Law is in operation Oliver Twist is born under testing circumstances as his unmarried mother dies in childbirth and his father is nowhere to be found The Poor Law statedpoor law authorities should no longer attempt to identify the fathers of illegitimate children and recover the costs of child support from themHence, Oliver is now an illegitimate orphan The book details on Oliver s struggles as a child, the mistreatment he receives from a society of scoundrels in a dog eat dog world Oliver Twist is well known for its portrayal of English workhouse conditions The infamous scene where the hungry children draw lots and the loser must ask for a second portion of gruel Upon being asked, the well fed, hypocritical workhouse owners brand him a troublemaker and offer to send him away to anyone willing, showing another cruel aspect of the Poor Law and the mistreatment of orphans at the time.
Please, sir, I want some The story showcases Oliver s pure soul in a world of misery and poverty The novel also illustrates a horrific image of 19th century London slums, riddled with disease and poverty with shady crime circles We see a world where even children are not spared their innocence.
Oliver meets the Artful DodgerDespite the grim contents of the book, the story, however, eventually proves that kindness does lurk in murky corners as well Oliver finds himself the recipient of lovethan once in the novel and his story eventually finds a respectable conclusion A personal favorite of mine, Oliver Twist to me is the definitive illustration of Dickensian literature A representation of 19th century poverty and crime, the novel is a classic tale of a child s survival in a world marked by cruelty.
I looooooooved this book Another Dickensanother favoritePlease, sir, I want some Jane Austen and Charles Dickens have been dueling inside my WOW center for some time in a titanic, see saw struggle for the title of greatest word smither story crafter in all of English literature Ms Austen previously caused heart palpitations and a slew of gasms with Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility which left me spent like a cheap nickel However, Sir Dickens, being a slick, wily devil responded in kind with A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, a pair of wonderfully addictive, tingle causing joy blasts full of jaw drops and breezy elegance Where this battle of master word charmers will end.
I could really care less because I m sporting a complete happy going through their respective catalogs with a perma smile on my face Next up on the parade of mouth watering, phrase turning feasts is The Adventures of Oliver Twist which is terrific on several levels In relating the tragic but ultimately rewarding life of Oliver Twist, Dickens is at his most Austenesque as he employs with great effect biting sarcasm and dry, dark humor to scathingly satire the English Poor Laws of the 1830s Of the novels I ve read by Dickens, this is him at his most socially conscious and he strategically uses Oliver s biography to harshly spotlight the greed, hypocrisy and let s just say it evil of the society that organized and profited by the work house system of the middle 19th century So they established the rule, that all poor people should have the alternative for they would compel nobody, not they, of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or by a quick one out of it.
We follow Oliver beginning with his difficult birth that killed his mother and almost cost the young lad his life as wellT here was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existenceFrom there we journey with the child as he is dumped into a workhouse where his early life goes from bad to horrendously shitty as he s subjected to a systematic process of neglect, physical brutality and starvation along with the other children residing there Here is a passage from Chapter 2 that I think perfectly encapsulates the subtly sarcastic style Dickens employs to address his subject matter The parish authorities magnanimously and humanely resolved, that Oliver should be farmed, or, in other words, that he should be dispatched to a branch workhouse some three miles off, where twenty or thirty other juvenile offenders against the poor laws rolled about the floor all day, without the inconvenience of too much food, or too much clothing, under the parental superintendence of an elderly female who received the culprits at and for the consideration of sevenpence halfpenny per small head per week Sevenpence halfpenny s worth per week is a good round diet for a child a great deal may be got for sevenpence halfpenny, quite enough to overload its stomach, and make it uncomfortable The elderly female was a woman of wisdom and experience she knew what was good for children and she had a very accurate perception of what was good for herself So, she appropriated the greater part of the weekly stipend to her own use, and consigned the rising parochial generation to even shorter allowance than was originally provided for them Thereby finding in the lowest depth a deeper still and proving herself a very great experimental philosopher Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he got his own horse down to a straw a day, and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rapacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, four and twenty hours before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air Unfortunately for the experimental philosopher of the female to whose care Oliver Twist was delivered over, a similar result usually attended the operation of her system for at the very moment when a child had contrived to exist upon the smallest possible portion of the weakest possible food, it did perversely happen in eight and a half cases out of ten, either that it sickened from want and cold, or fell into the fire from neglect, or got half smothered by accident in any one of which cases, the miserable little being was usually summoned into another world, and there gathered to the fathers it had never known in thisI love the way Dickens can describe callous starvation and casual murder of children for nothingthan greed in such a way that I was actually chuckling because of his lusciously humorous phrasing This man could write.
Eventually, Oliver s life takes another turn from horrendously shitty to mega painful chunks of misery filled crap when he has the temerity to utter the famous words,Please, sir, I want some He gets beatings,starvation, verbal abuse, neglect, and ultimately finds himself alone on the streets with no means of survival There, Oliver finds himself sucked into a life of petty criminality under the tutelage of Fagin the Jew who I thought was one of the most compelling Dickens characters ever Note I know there is a lot of controversy about the portrayal of Fagin being one of the most egregious cases of anti Semitism in classic literature I think the criticism is fair, but I also don t think based on what I ve read that Dickens had any malicious intent It is what it is and everyone can make their own decision on that point I thought the character of Fagin was fascinating and his signature phrase my dear which he uses in almost every sentence is still popping into my headthan a week after finishing the novel Fagin, while irredeemably evil and in some ways a criminal caricature, Dickens draws him with such flair imbues him with a dimension and essence that I found very compelling His psychology, his calculating intelligence and his soft words masking despicable actions is deftly laid out At times, I almost got the impression that Fagin was intended to represent the devil himself with the way Dickens focuses on his corrupting influence In short, the wily old Jew had the boy in his toils and, having prepared his mind by solitude and gloom to prefer any society to the companionship of his own sad thoughts in such a dreary place, was now slowly instilling into his soul the poison which he hoped would blacken it and change its hue for everOn one level, the life of Oliver Twist is one of the harshest, most depressingly sad tales ever put to paper In lesser hands, the heartache and forlornness of Oliver s birth and tragic early life could have swallowed up the story and made the book a real chore to get through Good news these are not lesser hands.
Dickens writing is so melodic that the narrative glides over the horror at a safe middle distance, allowing us to observe and absorb the surroundings without drowning in the pain that Dickens describes I thought it was masterful Intimate yet detached Eventually, the plot takes a mysterious turn as a shadowy figure arrives on the scene who has a connection to Oliver and his past that is slowly revealed over the last half of the story All of this leads to a marvelous ending that makes the rest of the story farenjoyable in retrospect sometimes positive, warm and fuzzy resolutions are exactly what a story needs Dickens prose is buttery smooth while his mocking humor is cheddar sharp His balance is outstanding and his ability to poke fun at his readers society while avoiding making the reader themselves feel like a target is brilliant I had such a wonderful time reading this that I am left wondering why everyone doesn t love Dickens as much as I do 5.
0 stars HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Okay, Ms Austen your turn again.
It is in its structure, rather than its metaphors, that Oliver Twist owes a great debt to the gothic novel Although superficially a Newgate novel streetboy corrupted by urban gang into a life of crime it is actually closer to that of the traditional gothic, with Oliver Twist taking the place of the menaced gothic heroine Oliver is torn between men who wish to control him, often for their own selfish purposes, and it is the struggle between guardians and would be guardians that gives the narrative of Oliver Twist its shape, in much the same way that such a struggle determined the narrative movement of The Mysteries of Udolpho All in all, I was pleasantly surprised Oliver Twist is short for a Dickens novel, and it has few of the wearisome circumlocutions or labored jests that sometimes afflict his longer works His prose is spare, and full of powerful effects The murder of Nancy can still touch the jaded modern heart with its horror, and the last appearances of Sykes and Fagin are also well done There are sentimental touches and incredible coincidences this is still Dickens, after all but Oliver Twist is in essence a realistic novel of Victorian poverty and crime, and it still packs a powerful punch.