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ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED
BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP


Dickens's epic novel of freedom, love, and the burning chaos of the French Revolution.

EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:
A concise introduction that gives readers important background information
A chronology of the author's life and work
A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context
An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations
Detailed explanatory notes
Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work
Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction
A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.
SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON

Topics: French Revolution, Love, Redemption, Family, Politics, Knitting, Death, Adventurous, Suspenseful, Realism, Victorian Era, Paris, London, and Literary Criticism

Published: Pocket Books on
ISBN: 9781416503064
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I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book...until the end. The deus ex machina wrecked it for me. Oliver may as well have turned out to be the long lost prince of England or something. It just seems very roughly thrown together in the end.more
I always loved Oliver Twist the most of the Dickens books I've read. He seemed to come to life in my head the most of all Dickens' characters.more
First of all, Oliver Twist is a hateful book. Dickens has created in Fagin an embodiment of bigotry; a leering, black-nailed, money-grubbing Jew who's nearly always referred to as The Jew, as though Dickens wasn't sure we'd get it.* Fagin is the most memorable character in Oliver Twist, and he's inexcusable. I've read me some Victorian novels; I'm familiar with the casual anti-Semitism that's nearly unavoidable in them; I understand the context of the time. Dickens is well beyond that context. For his time, he was a hater. This is a hate crime of a book.

* To clarify my context: I'm an atheist, so I think all religions are equally imaginary, and I think prejudice against any religion is equally distasteful.

Second, Oliver Twist is a shitty book. His second, following the comedic Pickwick Papers, it shows Dickens reaching for new territory: exposing the hopelessness and injustice of destitute life in London. But it's maudlin, obvious, predictable, lame. Oliver is such a simpering bitch that it's impossible to give a shit about him. Bad people want to use him; good people want to pamper him; readers are bored. Dickens will write great books, but not yet.

To be fair, not that I want to be, in the last chapters of Oliver Twist, he's figured it out. Nancy and Sikes suddenly take over the book, although I doubt Dickens knew they would, in a denouement of terrific power; and Fagin's last scene is equally powerful. But it's way too little, way too late.

It's Banned Book Week as I write this, and I don't think Oliver Twist should be banned. I think people need to know that the most loved British writer since Shakespeare wrote this. I wouldn't assign it in a class, because it sucks, but I would make sure my students understand that Dickens is responsible for it.

It's a shitty little book. It makes me think less of Dickens. I wish he'd known better.more
I admit, my opinion is colored by being dragged thru this book very unwillingly while in High School.more
A bit longer than it needed to be, but still has some interesting moments. Fagin is a hilariously offensive caricature, and most of the other characters are only the latter.more
Frankly, I thought Oliver Twist would be a bit of a chore, but instead I really looked forward to it each night (I chose to read most of the book following the original serialization breaks marked in my edition). The story is melodramatic and sentimental, and the coincidences in the plot are extremely far-fetched, but it’s a fun ride and an interesting exposure of social welfare and the criminal justice system of the time.

It’s admittedly difficult to read Dickens’ characterization of Fagin (“the Jew”) today, but there were other “bad” characters who were exceptionally drawn, such as the Bumbles or Bill Sikes, and other characters I would have liked to see more of, such as Mr. Grimwig or Jack Dawkins (who disappears unceremoniously from the narrative at a certain point). The portrayal of the relationship between Nancy and Bill Sikes is particularly strong and sadly relevant even today.more
Like an awful lot of people I have seen the film version of this story numerous times and even the stage version once as well but had never got around to actually reading the original. To mark Dicken's 200 birthday I felt that it was time to put things right just to see how much of the story had been altered.Dicken's was obviously a great wordsmith and this could be seen in his depiction of the conditions in the workhouse which were so vivid it was frightening but in truth I found this portion a little dull and just wanted to race through this part to get to when Oliver goes to London and meets Fagin and the gang. For it is there that the story really begins for me. Can a sweet natured boy who has had a very rough upbringing, where he was shown little affection and no little brutality, remain honest and upstanding or would he turn out a wrong 'un like the rest of them. A question of nurture or nature.The book holds some great characters who are given such a three dimensional feel by the great writing ( anyone who can get away with a character called Master Bates must be good). I did feel a little uncomfortable with Fagin constantly refered to as the Jew, although I realise that it is hard to expect the same standards of today 150+ years ago.On the whole I really enjoyed the book although it could be argued that this was not one of Dicken's best and am glad that I finally got around to reading it. Some parts I found a little slow but once it really got going I felt that the story raced along nicely. If I could have given it 4.5 stars I would have but finally came down on the side of a 4 but in the end as far as Dicken's himself is involved 'Can I have some more?'more
Not one of Dicken's stronger novels in my opinion. The ending is pat. However its a pleasant enough light read despite the poverty portrayed.more
I am not a big fan of Dickens, and Oliver Twist did nothing to persuade me. After the first third, the story began winding here and there (it was a serial after all), and I just lost the plot, especially as more and more characters were introduced.more
If this had been my first Dickens novel, I never would have read another. The protagonist, for the most part, is acted upon instead of acting. His great heroic moment takes place when he runs away from home and walks 70 miles to London (a moment he remembers in great excitement at the end of the book). But for the remainder of the story, he merely suffers, miserably and passively, as he is humiliated, degraded, hunted, starved, sickened, and beaten. As a reader it is too much to bear, because Oliver has no way to fight back. If he only had an internal monologue that kept him strong, mentally, that might have been enough to maintain my empathy; but when he is just a simple, blank slate of a suffering child, his misery does not make a satisfactory read. Even in the chapters of the happy ending, he sits passively as adults explain his (convoluted) history. Fair disclosure. I did not manage to finish the book. I got up to the point where Oliver has to relinquish his clean, new suit of clothes for the rags he had thought were gone forever; and I just couldn't bear his suffering anymore and had to stop. I read the rest of the plot on wikipedia; and then read the last few chapters, to decide whether the ending was brilliant enough to justify trudging through the novel. When I discovered, instead, that the ending was just long passages of exposition regarding missing members of Oliver's family, I felt satisfied with the decision not to continue. Normally, I don't post a review when I haven't finished the book; but this time I decided to go ahead just to encourage anyone who agrees with me about this book not to give up on Dickens altogether: I can recommend Hard Times and Great Expectations, and will give the remainder of the oeuvre a try.Side note: Perhaps if I had read this with my eyeballs, instead of by audiobook, I would have been able to finish it; since I could have read it very quickly. But by audiobook, you are forced to completely digest each sentence.more
Dickens' novel reads like a Beethoven Symphony [No.9] or a very rich chocolate cake. A magnificent tale but one that leaves you sated for at least a few months (I won't return to Dickens for a bit longer than that I would imagine). Dickens does a good job weaving what I would consider a complex fairy-tale. Oliver is our purely good protagonist who is the victim of the evil Fagin and Monk's machinations. Although the characters don't give the reader much to ponder over, I think the deep plot and satisfying conclusion justify its title of masterpiece.more
Oliver Twist is, certainly, often maudlin and excessively sentimental. I confess I skimmed over most of the passages where one character or another feels the need to blubber on at length about how wonderful things are and how blessed they are! Ugh!But I had forgotten how dark much of the book is - the descriptions of poverty and crime in the nineteenth century London rookery make you feel the grease and filth and smell the offal. If your vision of Fagin has been charmed by Ron Moody's portrayal in the film musical "Oliver!" your eyes will be opened here, where Dickens portrays him as a vile, dirty, evil and unrepentant villain. A Jewish villain, of course, and the antisemitic side of the character's description cannot be escaped, even though Dickens himself emended the book in later publications to try to de-emphasize Fagin's "jewishness."Probably the reason the antisemitic aspect of the book gets so much attention is that the character of Fagin, like that of Sikes, and the other criminals, is far more interesting than any of the "good" characters. Oliver himself exists almost as a little puppet, to be buffetted about and rescued like a rag doll with about as much personality. Mr. Brounlow, Oliver's first patron, exists only to act as the Deus Ex Machina and explain the (many and ridiculous) coincidences that propel the plot. Even Nancy seems to become less interesting as she becomes "good," and the one false note in her otherwise shocking murder is her plea to Sikes to spare her and seek prayerful repentance.As an early work of Dickens (his second novel, and written as he was finishing his first up), this book lacks the power of his later works. But when he is in the streets with London's criminals, or describing the ludicrous scenes in a police court (where he cut his teeth as a journalist), you see where this young man was heading.more
[Oliver Twist] is the story of an orphan boy who is sent to several workshouses and finally ends up in the home of a benevolent widow and her female companion. The plot and ending of the story are very predictable. Compared to Dickens' [Bleak House] and [A Tale of Two Cities], [Oliver Twist] leaves much to be desired.more
Dickens' second published work (after Pickwick Papers) and the author has 'arrived'. Confidently and exuberantly written, this is a real novel, a big step up from the miscellany that made up the earlier work. The characterisation is more assured - Fagin is a great study in calculated manipulation, the Artful Dodger a gifted comic creation; and the plot is more coherent, although the plot coincidences and contrivances that plague later books are starting to become evident here. Dickens is quite outspoken in his views - his disgust for the hypocrisy of the callous behaviour of many outwardly religious persons; his hatred for the bullying of petty officialdom such as the precious Beadle, while at the same time unwittingly reflecting the prejudices and standards of his time - such as the two orphans (Oliver and Rose) being able to maintain the innate "gentlemanly" character of their origins in spite of the appalling upbringing they endured. great stuff. Read December 2011.more
Oliver is born into a life of poverty and misfortune when he is orphaned at birth by his mother's death and his strangely missing father. As a hungry orphan he is trapped in a life of squalid poverty living in decrepit slums surrounded by evil men, thieves, and misfits. In the midst of corruption Oliver avoids a life of crime and emerges pure-hearted. He steers away from evil people and eventually has a positive ending with others who are kind to him.more
I am hard pressed to think of what you find in later Dickens that you don't find in this, his first complete novel. That is not to say a lot isn't much better (the imagery of London, the complexity of the characters, and the even more sprawling multiple plots come to mind) -- and that some of the worst of this novel (of which the absurd and unnecessary coincidence of Rose Maylie being related to Oliver is just about the worst). But Dickens already had the combination of comic, tragic, melodramatic, moralizing, satirical, and several other ingredients that he successfully mined in different proportions in all his future books. Although none of them top the stark brutality of Oliver Twist, and especially Fagin and Sikes.more
Great book. Really liked it. Delivers what was promised.more
I was fortunate enough to study writing with William Henry Lewis and remember how precise he was as a writer. Looking over his stories, I'm still impressed by his precision of voice and style and his natural sense of pacing--especially considering that he was writing these stories at such a young age! This is a book for anyone who enjoys studying how a good story is crafted. I particularly enjoyed "Other People's Houses," but "A man and his son went looking for pine planks" always haunted me for some reason.more
I was fortunate enough to study writing with William Henry Lewis and remember how precise he was as a writer. Looking over his stories, I'm still impressed by his precision of voice and style and his natural sense of pacing--especially considering that he was writing these stories at such a young age! This is a book for anyone who enjoys studying how a good story is crafted. I particularly enjoyed "Other People's Houses," but "A man and his son went looking for pine planks" always haunted me for some reason.more
I wasn't sure to expect when I ordered this book. I've heard great reviews, but sometimes when I get around to reading the book, it just doesn't live up to the hype. Not so in this case. I sincerely enjoyed this tale of the young, innocent Oliver Twist and his story of misfortune. While the novel was darker and more violent than I'd at first anticipated, the language flows like poetry. I loved the roller coaster ride Dickens takes us on as Oliver searches to escape the evils forced upon him, only to be pulled back in. The build to the climax of the story was expertly formulated and executed.Oliver Twist is a classic in the true sense of the word. If you've not had the pleasure of reading this novel, don't delay. Order it today.more
I've seen the musical play/movie of Oliver dozens of times since I was a kid and generally know the story backwards and forwards. I anticipated there would be some differences between the book and the movie/play but didn't expect to find many surprises. Thus, I wasn't shocked by the changes I encountered but I think perhaps my history with the story may have tainted my view a little bit.For those unfamiliar with the story, we're taken on adventures with Oliver Twist…a boy who was born to an unknown woman in a poorhouse and spent his early life in poverty and obscurity. He leaves the poorhouse on an apprenticeship and later runs away to London where he encounters a band of thieves and ruffians and struggles to find his way in the world. That's the high level view of the story.Being a Dickens novel, there is no shortage of characters or of vivid (sometimes overly lengthy) descriptions of people, places, things and events. In addition, there is frequent coincidental interactions between characters otherwise unrelated but linked through their acquaintance with our young hero. These coincidental meetings are believable at times and at other times Dickens stretches credibility to the limit by having these people's paths cross the way they do. I definitely acknowledge that "It's a Small World" and that karma and coincidental interactions are more frequent than we may admit, but the nature and degree that they happen in Dickens is sometimes comical.Anyway, the arc of Oliver's life is a generally depressing one. He's scorned, imprisoned, tricked, beaten and wholly maltreated in spite of him being a very angelic and innocent young boy with no vices to speak of. In fact, Oliver's character may be too perfect…with his only flaws being flaws of circumstance rather than flaws of character and behavior.As I mentioned, I knew the general plot progression from the movie/play, but I was somewhat surprised at a couple of significant differences. The first difference wasn't very striking (the introduction of a second wealthy family) and I could see why they left it out of the movie (it just adds additional levels of detail which is interesting and insightful but doesn't really progress the story in a vital way). The second difference was much more important and was very interesting to me. (*slight spoiler, but I'll keep it high level*). In the movie/play, the thieves are primarily "led" by Fagin and Bill Sikes. The book actually includes a 3rd character kept even more in shadowy mystery until nearly the end of the book. And once again, this 3rd character is victim to Dickens's crazy circumstantial coincidence in that he has an intriguing tie to Oliver. I found this plot point intriguing and fun to unravel, but again, it wasn't wholly vital to the core of the story so I can see why it's excluded from modern productions. Still, it was a fun new angle for me.On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It's definitely Dickens…true to his style in many regards. The language. The characters. The settings. All very Dickens. So if you're put off by Dickens, this isn't the story for you. Granted, it is a bit lighter than some of his other works but it is heavier than Christmas Carol or shorter stories and it's definitely not near as light as the treatment given in the play/movie. Furthermore, it's more depressing than the play/movie, so if you're looking for the lighthearted fun of Fagin and Dodger that you know from the modern production, you may be disappointed.Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It wasn't as strong to me as other Dickens work but it was still a very worthwhile read and I'm glad I read it.****3.5 out of 5 starsmore
'Oliver Twist' is the first book on my personal "Books that have been on my shelf for way to long" reading challenge for 2011.I've always viewed Charles Dickens with some trepidation having once seen his picture in the dictionary next to the definition of "verbose". The only other Dickens book I've read is 'A Christmas Carol' which starts out with the sentence "Marley was dead." Okay, that's short and to the point but then he went on for three pages explaining exactly how dead he was. I get it, Chuck. He's dead already. That said, I was very pleasantly surprised by Oliver Twist. I hated the blatant anti-semitism in Dickens' treatment of Fagin and gagged on his saccharine sweet portrayal of Oliver but I really enjoyed reading what is, its core, a witty and biting social satire. I'd also really like to know if Dickens' constant referring to on of Fagin's minions as 'Master Bates' was his subtle way of telling us this character was really a wanker.more
The story follows the progress of the orphaned Oliver Twist, as he is taken from the orphanage to the workhouse and then to an undertaker as an apprentice. Cruelly taunted by another jealous apprentice, he is beaten for lashing out, after which he runs away to London on foot—a distance of 70 miles which he covers in one week. Upon arrival he meets the Artful Dodger who offers Oliver some food and a place to sleep and brings him to an old Jewish man called Fagins. The old man and his gang of pickpockets teach Oliver how to steal gentlemen's handkerchiefs. Through a series of events, Oliver is taken in by a rich and kind gentleman who sees that Oliver is a sincere and gentle soul and decides to give the boy a home and offer him an education. But Fagins arranges to have Oliver brought back to him, and along with his brutal accomplice Bill Sikes, the orphan is forced to continue in a life of crime. Many many trials and tribulations and heartbreak ensue, and eventually, with a good dose of luck and serendipity all's well that ends well. I very much enjoyed the ironic tone of Dickens as he describes the conditions of the poor who were subject to the New Poor Law at the time, which in fact did little to help them and in many ways made their lives even more miserable. This novel is a powerful social commentary as is well known, and it's easy to see where Dickens' sympathies lie. The lengthy narrative of this story which was originally published in monthly instalments is best enjoyed in small doses and I found that trying to listen to too many chapters at once kept me from enjoying the excellent quality of the writing and quickly became tedious. With the exception of Nancy, a young prostitute and Bill Sikes' girlfriend who decided to do all she could to help young Oliver—and came to a very brutal end for that reason—most of the characters were shown as being either all good or all bad.This was especially problematic for me in the portrayal of Fagan—usually referred to as 'The Jew'—who was depicted as a reprehensible, cruel and grotesque creature throughout; a real caricature of the miserly Jew at his absolute worst. When he was accused of anti-semitism, Dickens asserted that he had simply meant to depict a specific kind of criminal, who at that time just so happened to usually be a Jewish man, and apparently tried to remedy to that by referring to him mostly as the less offensive 'Fagan' in the last chapters of the serial. But even though allowing for the fact that the novel was written at a time when prejudices were openly aired, it was hard for me to bear and took away from my general enjoyment of the story, to which I would have otherwise given a higher rating.more
oliver was born in 1800 in place called workhouse in england, but after that his mother died, so he lives 8 years in the same place where his mother died, after that they deside to make him work picking oakum. when he start to complain about the food they chased him, but the manager forced him to work with him, after a while he escaped from from him and traveled to london. in london he start a new life and new adventure.more
**Spoiler alert**Although my high school had put on a production of Oliver Twist that I saw several times, I had never before read the book. I think perhaps the musical turned me off from getting around to this particular Dickens work, although I was, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by the book. I loved the beginning with its ironic descriptions of the so-called pious holy-rollers who looked down their noses at the paupers they mistreated. It’s a great commentary on the welfare system of the time and how badly the poor were treated. Oliver is introduced as a character you just have to love because, poor thing, nothing goes right for him. Towards the middle, the book becomes a bit dull for my tastes. There are long passages devoted to the thieves’ doings, which, when it comes right down to it, don’t add a whole lot more to the story. In particular, there’s the long description of Sykes and Oliver traipsing all about on their way to rob a house. Towards the end, the reader loses sight of Oliver all together for several chapters, which is more than a bit odd considering he’s the titular character. The ending is a bit too tidy – with the exception of Nancy, everyone gets their just desserts, whether that be a punishment or a reward. On the positive side, Oliver Twist contains a number of great memorable characters, even the minor ones like Mr. Bumble and Mr. Grimwig (and I just love their names, too). The aforementioned irony is always a plus for me, and I listened to an audio version with an excellent narrator who was spot-on when it came to the ironic parts. And, as I mentioned earlier as well, Dickens uses Oliver Twist to comment on serious issues of the day such as poverty and crime.On the down side, the reader has to overlook the latent anti-Semitism when it comes to the character of Fagin, the ring leader of the gang, who is almost always referred to as “the Jew.” There are also some rather ridiculously hard to believe bits of essential plot. For instance, Monks is described as being evil from his birth but Mr. Brownlow basically calls Monks a cad and he confesses to everything. Likewise, a few of the lifelong criminals feel remorse at the end a little too easily for me to believe. Meanwhile, the coincidences were just too much as well. In David Copperfield, it’s believable (albeit sometimes a bit of a stretch) for David to continually bump into old friends in unlikely or random places. But what are the chances that Oliver’s only two run-ins with decent people put him in the hands of his late father’s dear friend and Oliver’s own aunt (unbeknownst to them both)? It’s nice to see Oliver finally with friends and family, but it’s just too unbelievable!!While this wasn’t my favorite Dickens’ novel (David Copperfield still takes first place, followed by Great Expectations), I did enjoy it for the most part and would recommend it for fans of Dickens in particular or Victorian literature in general.more
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is another classic by that master of storytelling, Charles Dickens. First published in 1838, the novel is a strong protest against the cruel conditions then facing the indigent in England. Dickens is furious at the abuses of the workhouse system but he never loses control of his clipped, unrelenting sarcasm, even when speaking of daily bureaucratic villainies. He knows just how far to take it. And what is so amazing about Dickens' genius is that his invective never overtakes the story; the story is never just an excuse for the protest. Social reform is a big ingredient of Dickens' work, but his work doesn't reduce to that. Please note there are some spoilers in this review.The storyline of Oliver Twist is very well known. Oliver, born of an unwed mother in a workhouse, suffers a deprived childhood under the tender care of parish officials (it is here that he is punished for famously asking, "Please, sir, I want some more"). At age nine Oliver is apprenticed to a coffin-maker, but is eventually driven from that harsh home. Oliver makes his way to London, where he is picked up by the Artful Dodger, one of a small gang of criminals. This gang is led by Fagin, an elderly Jew who trains the band in the art of theft and picking pockets. But Fagin has a special reason for making Oliver a thief. There is some mystery surrounding Oliver's birth, but how can it be discovered? What is the real history of his nameless mother, and why would anyone still care?What strikes me principally about Oliver Twist is its gritty feel. Dickens doesn't hesitate in his other books to show poverty and suffering, but this story goes beyond that and portrays the individuals who people the seamy side of London in all their foulness and degradation. And yet at the same time, innocent Oliver provides the moral center of the novel. Often his innocence is taken advantage of and his naive youth manipulated, but the message is clear: moral virtue will always be rewarded in the end. This has been likened to a fairy tale, in which the good always triumph and the wicked are always punished.I suppose it is also like a fairy tale in the sense that our hero Oliver possesses such high principles and firm moral character when all his life has been spent among other wretched children under selfish, calloused overseers. No one is naturally that good. I also found it difficult to appreciate Dickens' angelic female, Rose Maylie. Sometimes the descriptions of Rose are too flowery to bear. Perhaps Dickens overdid it just a bit to refresh himself after writing all his realistic gritty villains?But Dickens makes up for these weaknesses with several brilliant characters, most notably Nancy, the fallen woman who is almost redeemed. Her struggle with the inexplicable desire to stay in her wretched life is probably the truest thing Dickens ever wrote. Nancy can envision a different life should she accept the help of Oliver's friends, but something in her clings instead to her old life. She returns to the scenes of her degradation, loyal even to the fiends who dragged her there — and dies for it. It is utterly tragic, and the worst of it is that she could have been different if Fagin and others had not set out to corrupt her. Little acts of selfishness can change another person's life forever.I imagine there are essays discussing Dickens' anti-Semitism as depicted in Fagin, the foul crook who is more often than not referred to as "the Jew." It can't be denied that Fagin is a singularly distasteful character, with a stereotypical love of lucre, but I think there is a little more to it. First, the unlovely descriptions of Fagin are not that different from the descriptions of Dickens' many other villains. And somehow Dickens makes me pity Fagin, despite all his crimes. The chapter near the end that deals with Fagin's trial and state of mind after being sentenced to death is a masterpiece of psychological scrutiny, entirely believable and, in its way, heart wringing. I think Dickens pities Fagin too, not for his Jewishness but for the dreadful sneaking life he has lived and the horror of his death.Certain moments stand out, crystalline in their emotional clarity. I think of Mr. Brownlow and Mr. Grimwig sitting across from one another with the watch between them, measuring Oliver's character. Or Nancy telling Rose through tears that "if there was more like you, there would be fewer like me." Or Sikes grinding his chair up against the wall, to keep the specter of his guilt from hovering at his back. Other moments are brilliant in their humor, like Mr. Grimwig threatening to eat his head and Mr. Giles telling of his daring exploits. There is just so much here. I listened to this on audiobook read by Nadia May, and I understand why her work is so acclaimed. She has a warm voice and accent that wear well over the course of a long book like this. I could tell she was enjoying performing the story just as much as I was enjoying the performance. Her voice graces this story and I will certainly be looking for more audiobooks read by her.All of this, this grand drama made up of petty cruelties, of small thefts and dramatic murders, of the uneven love between degraded man and degraded woman, of innocence, poverty, crime, desperation — all of this is Dickens' arena and he performs it like no one else. Oliver Twist reminds me why we still read classic literature today.more
It’s hard not to think of Dickens himself while reading this book, and the horrors he went through as a child. He was the 2nd of 8 children and his father and most of the rest of his family were sent away to debtor’s prison; Charles was then forced into childhood labor pasting labels on shoe polish under very strenuous conditions. While he often is criticized for characters which are not three-dimensional and for constantly referring to the villain Fagan as “the Jew”, Oliver Twist is a memorable story and a classic.Quotes:On poor children:“Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child – the orphan of a workhouse – the humble, half-starved drudge – to be cuffed and buffeted through the world – despised by all, and pitied by none.Oliver cried lustily. If he had known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of the churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.”On good and evil in men:“Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts exercises, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature and their fellow men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colors are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”more
Nobody can write about abused orphans like Charles Dickens. Oliver Twist, a baby born in a workhouse to a mysterious woman is raised in the system. His kind and loving nature make him a vulnerable target for a group of children thieves led by the character Dickens calls "The Jew," Fagin. They have their own little family of lost boys who serve Fagin, who in turn is somewhat subservient to a very evil man, Bill Sykes. Oliver ends up in kind hands for a short time, and then once again falls prey to the villainous men who want to use him up. I'm a great fan of the musical Oliver!, and that musical stayed pretty on track with the story and the nature of the characters, although there are great chunks of plot left out of the musical as well as some key players, but the musical story wasn't diminished in my eyes. I still love it and I found Oliver Twist to be fascinating. The 19th century time period and Dickens's use of language really made this a great read.more
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Reviews

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable book...until the end. The deus ex machina wrecked it for me. Oliver may as well have turned out to be the long lost prince of England or something. It just seems very roughly thrown together in the end.more
I always loved Oliver Twist the most of the Dickens books I've read. He seemed to come to life in my head the most of all Dickens' characters.more
First of all, Oliver Twist is a hateful book. Dickens has created in Fagin an embodiment of bigotry; a leering, black-nailed, money-grubbing Jew who's nearly always referred to as The Jew, as though Dickens wasn't sure we'd get it.* Fagin is the most memorable character in Oliver Twist, and he's inexcusable. I've read me some Victorian novels; I'm familiar with the casual anti-Semitism that's nearly unavoidable in them; I understand the context of the time. Dickens is well beyond that context. For his time, he was a hater. This is a hate crime of a book.

* To clarify my context: I'm an atheist, so I think all religions are equally imaginary, and I think prejudice against any religion is equally distasteful.

Second, Oliver Twist is a shitty book. His second, following the comedic Pickwick Papers, it shows Dickens reaching for new territory: exposing the hopelessness and injustice of destitute life in London. But it's maudlin, obvious, predictable, lame. Oliver is such a simpering bitch that it's impossible to give a shit about him. Bad people want to use him; good people want to pamper him; readers are bored. Dickens will write great books, but not yet.

To be fair, not that I want to be, in the last chapters of Oliver Twist, he's figured it out. Nancy and Sikes suddenly take over the book, although I doubt Dickens knew they would, in a denouement of terrific power; and Fagin's last scene is equally powerful. But it's way too little, way too late.

It's Banned Book Week as I write this, and I don't think Oliver Twist should be banned. I think people need to know that the most loved British writer since Shakespeare wrote this. I wouldn't assign it in a class, because it sucks, but I would make sure my students understand that Dickens is responsible for it.

It's a shitty little book. It makes me think less of Dickens. I wish he'd known better.more
I admit, my opinion is colored by being dragged thru this book very unwillingly while in High School.more
A bit longer than it needed to be, but still has some interesting moments. Fagin is a hilariously offensive caricature, and most of the other characters are only the latter.more
Frankly, I thought Oliver Twist would be a bit of a chore, but instead I really looked forward to it each night (I chose to read most of the book following the original serialization breaks marked in my edition). The story is melodramatic and sentimental, and the coincidences in the plot are extremely far-fetched, but it’s a fun ride and an interesting exposure of social welfare and the criminal justice system of the time.

It’s admittedly difficult to read Dickens’ characterization of Fagin (“the Jew”) today, but there were other “bad” characters who were exceptionally drawn, such as the Bumbles or Bill Sikes, and other characters I would have liked to see more of, such as Mr. Grimwig or Jack Dawkins (who disappears unceremoniously from the narrative at a certain point). The portrayal of the relationship between Nancy and Bill Sikes is particularly strong and sadly relevant even today.more
Like an awful lot of people I have seen the film version of this story numerous times and even the stage version once as well but had never got around to actually reading the original. To mark Dicken's 200 birthday I felt that it was time to put things right just to see how much of the story had been altered.Dicken's was obviously a great wordsmith and this could be seen in his depiction of the conditions in the workhouse which were so vivid it was frightening but in truth I found this portion a little dull and just wanted to race through this part to get to when Oliver goes to London and meets Fagin and the gang. For it is there that the story really begins for me. Can a sweet natured boy who has had a very rough upbringing, where he was shown little affection and no little brutality, remain honest and upstanding or would he turn out a wrong 'un like the rest of them. A question of nurture or nature.The book holds some great characters who are given such a three dimensional feel by the great writing ( anyone who can get away with a character called Master Bates must be good). I did feel a little uncomfortable with Fagin constantly refered to as the Jew, although I realise that it is hard to expect the same standards of today 150+ years ago.On the whole I really enjoyed the book although it could be argued that this was not one of Dicken's best and am glad that I finally got around to reading it. Some parts I found a little slow but once it really got going I felt that the story raced along nicely. If I could have given it 4.5 stars I would have but finally came down on the side of a 4 but in the end as far as Dicken's himself is involved 'Can I have some more?'more
Not one of Dicken's stronger novels in my opinion. The ending is pat. However its a pleasant enough light read despite the poverty portrayed.more
I am not a big fan of Dickens, and Oliver Twist did nothing to persuade me. After the first third, the story began winding here and there (it was a serial after all), and I just lost the plot, especially as more and more characters were introduced.more
If this had been my first Dickens novel, I never would have read another. The protagonist, for the most part, is acted upon instead of acting. His great heroic moment takes place when he runs away from home and walks 70 miles to London (a moment he remembers in great excitement at the end of the book). But for the remainder of the story, he merely suffers, miserably and passively, as he is humiliated, degraded, hunted, starved, sickened, and beaten. As a reader it is too much to bear, because Oliver has no way to fight back. If he only had an internal monologue that kept him strong, mentally, that might have been enough to maintain my empathy; but when he is just a simple, blank slate of a suffering child, his misery does not make a satisfactory read. Even in the chapters of the happy ending, he sits passively as adults explain his (convoluted) history. Fair disclosure. I did not manage to finish the book. I got up to the point where Oliver has to relinquish his clean, new suit of clothes for the rags he had thought were gone forever; and I just couldn't bear his suffering anymore and had to stop. I read the rest of the plot on wikipedia; and then read the last few chapters, to decide whether the ending was brilliant enough to justify trudging through the novel. When I discovered, instead, that the ending was just long passages of exposition regarding missing members of Oliver's family, I felt satisfied with the decision not to continue. Normally, I don't post a review when I haven't finished the book; but this time I decided to go ahead just to encourage anyone who agrees with me about this book not to give up on Dickens altogether: I can recommend Hard Times and Great Expectations, and will give the remainder of the oeuvre a try.Side note: Perhaps if I had read this with my eyeballs, instead of by audiobook, I would have been able to finish it; since I could have read it very quickly. But by audiobook, you are forced to completely digest each sentence.more
Dickens' novel reads like a Beethoven Symphony [No.9] or a very rich chocolate cake. A magnificent tale but one that leaves you sated for at least a few months (I won't return to Dickens for a bit longer than that I would imagine). Dickens does a good job weaving what I would consider a complex fairy-tale. Oliver is our purely good protagonist who is the victim of the evil Fagin and Monk's machinations. Although the characters don't give the reader much to ponder over, I think the deep plot and satisfying conclusion justify its title of masterpiece.more
Oliver Twist is, certainly, often maudlin and excessively sentimental. I confess I skimmed over most of the passages where one character or another feels the need to blubber on at length about how wonderful things are and how blessed they are! Ugh!But I had forgotten how dark much of the book is - the descriptions of poverty and crime in the nineteenth century London rookery make you feel the grease and filth and smell the offal. If your vision of Fagin has been charmed by Ron Moody's portrayal in the film musical "Oliver!" your eyes will be opened here, where Dickens portrays him as a vile, dirty, evil and unrepentant villain. A Jewish villain, of course, and the antisemitic side of the character's description cannot be escaped, even though Dickens himself emended the book in later publications to try to de-emphasize Fagin's "jewishness."Probably the reason the antisemitic aspect of the book gets so much attention is that the character of Fagin, like that of Sikes, and the other criminals, is far more interesting than any of the "good" characters. Oliver himself exists almost as a little puppet, to be buffetted about and rescued like a rag doll with about as much personality. Mr. Brounlow, Oliver's first patron, exists only to act as the Deus Ex Machina and explain the (many and ridiculous) coincidences that propel the plot. Even Nancy seems to become less interesting as she becomes "good," and the one false note in her otherwise shocking murder is her plea to Sikes to spare her and seek prayerful repentance.As an early work of Dickens (his second novel, and written as he was finishing his first up), this book lacks the power of his later works. But when he is in the streets with London's criminals, or describing the ludicrous scenes in a police court (where he cut his teeth as a journalist), you see where this young man was heading.more
[Oliver Twist] is the story of an orphan boy who is sent to several workshouses and finally ends up in the home of a benevolent widow and her female companion. The plot and ending of the story are very predictable. Compared to Dickens' [Bleak House] and [A Tale of Two Cities], [Oliver Twist] leaves much to be desired.more
Dickens' second published work (after Pickwick Papers) and the author has 'arrived'. Confidently and exuberantly written, this is a real novel, a big step up from the miscellany that made up the earlier work. The characterisation is more assured - Fagin is a great study in calculated manipulation, the Artful Dodger a gifted comic creation; and the plot is more coherent, although the plot coincidences and contrivances that plague later books are starting to become evident here. Dickens is quite outspoken in his views - his disgust for the hypocrisy of the callous behaviour of many outwardly religious persons; his hatred for the bullying of petty officialdom such as the precious Beadle, while at the same time unwittingly reflecting the prejudices and standards of his time - such as the two orphans (Oliver and Rose) being able to maintain the innate "gentlemanly" character of their origins in spite of the appalling upbringing they endured. great stuff. Read December 2011.more
Oliver is born into a life of poverty and misfortune when he is orphaned at birth by his mother's death and his strangely missing father. As a hungry orphan he is trapped in a life of squalid poverty living in decrepit slums surrounded by evil men, thieves, and misfits. In the midst of corruption Oliver avoids a life of crime and emerges pure-hearted. He steers away from evil people and eventually has a positive ending with others who are kind to him.more
I am hard pressed to think of what you find in later Dickens that you don't find in this, his first complete novel. That is not to say a lot isn't much better (the imagery of London, the complexity of the characters, and the even more sprawling multiple plots come to mind) -- and that some of the worst of this novel (of which the absurd and unnecessary coincidence of Rose Maylie being related to Oliver is just about the worst). But Dickens already had the combination of comic, tragic, melodramatic, moralizing, satirical, and several other ingredients that he successfully mined in different proportions in all his future books. Although none of them top the stark brutality of Oliver Twist, and especially Fagin and Sikes.more
Great book. Really liked it. Delivers what was promised.more
I was fortunate enough to study writing with William Henry Lewis and remember how precise he was as a writer. Looking over his stories, I'm still impressed by his precision of voice and style and his natural sense of pacing--especially considering that he was writing these stories at such a young age! This is a book for anyone who enjoys studying how a good story is crafted. I particularly enjoyed "Other People's Houses," but "A man and his son went looking for pine planks" always haunted me for some reason.more
I was fortunate enough to study writing with William Henry Lewis and remember how precise he was as a writer. Looking over his stories, I'm still impressed by his precision of voice and style and his natural sense of pacing--especially considering that he was writing these stories at such a young age! This is a book for anyone who enjoys studying how a good story is crafted. I particularly enjoyed "Other People's Houses," but "A man and his son went looking for pine planks" always haunted me for some reason.more
I wasn't sure to expect when I ordered this book. I've heard great reviews, but sometimes when I get around to reading the book, it just doesn't live up to the hype. Not so in this case. I sincerely enjoyed this tale of the young, innocent Oliver Twist and his story of misfortune. While the novel was darker and more violent than I'd at first anticipated, the language flows like poetry. I loved the roller coaster ride Dickens takes us on as Oliver searches to escape the evils forced upon him, only to be pulled back in. The build to the climax of the story was expertly formulated and executed.Oliver Twist is a classic in the true sense of the word. If you've not had the pleasure of reading this novel, don't delay. Order it today.more
I've seen the musical play/movie of Oliver dozens of times since I was a kid and generally know the story backwards and forwards. I anticipated there would be some differences between the book and the movie/play but didn't expect to find many surprises. Thus, I wasn't shocked by the changes I encountered but I think perhaps my history with the story may have tainted my view a little bit.For those unfamiliar with the story, we're taken on adventures with Oliver Twist…a boy who was born to an unknown woman in a poorhouse and spent his early life in poverty and obscurity. He leaves the poorhouse on an apprenticeship and later runs away to London where he encounters a band of thieves and ruffians and struggles to find his way in the world. That's the high level view of the story.Being a Dickens novel, there is no shortage of characters or of vivid (sometimes overly lengthy) descriptions of people, places, things and events. In addition, there is frequent coincidental interactions between characters otherwise unrelated but linked through their acquaintance with our young hero. These coincidental meetings are believable at times and at other times Dickens stretches credibility to the limit by having these people's paths cross the way they do. I definitely acknowledge that "It's a Small World" and that karma and coincidental interactions are more frequent than we may admit, but the nature and degree that they happen in Dickens is sometimes comical.Anyway, the arc of Oliver's life is a generally depressing one. He's scorned, imprisoned, tricked, beaten and wholly maltreated in spite of him being a very angelic and innocent young boy with no vices to speak of. In fact, Oliver's character may be too perfect…with his only flaws being flaws of circumstance rather than flaws of character and behavior.As I mentioned, I knew the general plot progression from the movie/play, but I was somewhat surprised at a couple of significant differences. The first difference wasn't very striking (the introduction of a second wealthy family) and I could see why they left it out of the movie (it just adds additional levels of detail which is interesting and insightful but doesn't really progress the story in a vital way). The second difference was much more important and was very interesting to me. (*slight spoiler, but I'll keep it high level*). In the movie/play, the thieves are primarily "led" by Fagin and Bill Sikes. The book actually includes a 3rd character kept even more in shadowy mystery until nearly the end of the book. And once again, this 3rd character is victim to Dickens's crazy circumstantial coincidence in that he has an intriguing tie to Oliver. I found this plot point intriguing and fun to unravel, but again, it wasn't wholly vital to the core of the story so I can see why it's excluded from modern productions. Still, it was a fun new angle for me.On the whole, I enjoyed this book. It's definitely Dickens…true to his style in many regards. The language. The characters. The settings. All very Dickens. So if you're put off by Dickens, this isn't the story for you. Granted, it is a bit lighter than some of his other works but it is heavier than Christmas Carol or shorter stories and it's definitely not near as light as the treatment given in the play/movie. Furthermore, it's more depressing than the play/movie, so if you're looking for the lighthearted fun of Fagin and Dodger that you know from the modern production, you may be disappointed.Overall, it was an enjoyable read. It wasn't as strong to me as other Dickens work but it was still a very worthwhile read and I'm glad I read it.****3.5 out of 5 starsmore
'Oliver Twist' is the first book on my personal "Books that have been on my shelf for way to long" reading challenge for 2011.I've always viewed Charles Dickens with some trepidation having once seen his picture in the dictionary next to the definition of "verbose". The only other Dickens book I've read is 'A Christmas Carol' which starts out with the sentence "Marley was dead." Okay, that's short and to the point but then he went on for three pages explaining exactly how dead he was. I get it, Chuck. He's dead already. That said, I was very pleasantly surprised by Oliver Twist. I hated the blatant anti-semitism in Dickens' treatment of Fagin and gagged on his saccharine sweet portrayal of Oliver but I really enjoyed reading what is, its core, a witty and biting social satire. I'd also really like to know if Dickens' constant referring to on of Fagin's minions as 'Master Bates' was his subtle way of telling us this character was really a wanker.more
The story follows the progress of the orphaned Oliver Twist, as he is taken from the orphanage to the workhouse and then to an undertaker as an apprentice. Cruelly taunted by another jealous apprentice, he is beaten for lashing out, after which he runs away to London on foot—a distance of 70 miles which he covers in one week. Upon arrival he meets the Artful Dodger who offers Oliver some food and a place to sleep and brings him to an old Jewish man called Fagins. The old man and his gang of pickpockets teach Oliver how to steal gentlemen's handkerchiefs. Through a series of events, Oliver is taken in by a rich and kind gentleman who sees that Oliver is a sincere and gentle soul and decides to give the boy a home and offer him an education. But Fagins arranges to have Oliver brought back to him, and along with his brutal accomplice Bill Sikes, the orphan is forced to continue in a life of crime. Many many trials and tribulations and heartbreak ensue, and eventually, with a good dose of luck and serendipity all's well that ends well. I very much enjoyed the ironic tone of Dickens as he describes the conditions of the poor who were subject to the New Poor Law at the time, which in fact did little to help them and in many ways made their lives even more miserable. This novel is a powerful social commentary as is well known, and it's easy to see where Dickens' sympathies lie. The lengthy narrative of this story which was originally published in monthly instalments is best enjoyed in small doses and I found that trying to listen to too many chapters at once kept me from enjoying the excellent quality of the writing and quickly became tedious. With the exception of Nancy, a young prostitute and Bill Sikes' girlfriend who decided to do all she could to help young Oliver—and came to a very brutal end for that reason—most of the characters were shown as being either all good or all bad.This was especially problematic for me in the portrayal of Fagan—usually referred to as 'The Jew'—who was depicted as a reprehensible, cruel and grotesque creature throughout; a real caricature of the miserly Jew at his absolute worst. When he was accused of anti-semitism, Dickens asserted that he had simply meant to depict a specific kind of criminal, who at that time just so happened to usually be a Jewish man, and apparently tried to remedy to that by referring to him mostly as the less offensive 'Fagan' in the last chapters of the serial. But even though allowing for the fact that the novel was written at a time when prejudices were openly aired, it was hard for me to bear and took away from my general enjoyment of the story, to which I would have otherwise given a higher rating.more
oliver was born in 1800 in place called workhouse in england, but after that his mother died, so he lives 8 years in the same place where his mother died, after that they deside to make him work picking oakum. when he start to complain about the food they chased him, but the manager forced him to work with him, after a while he escaped from from him and traveled to london. in london he start a new life and new adventure.more
**Spoiler alert**Although my high school had put on a production of Oliver Twist that I saw several times, I had never before read the book. I think perhaps the musical turned me off from getting around to this particular Dickens work, although I was, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by the book. I loved the beginning with its ironic descriptions of the so-called pious holy-rollers who looked down their noses at the paupers they mistreated. It’s a great commentary on the welfare system of the time and how badly the poor were treated. Oliver is introduced as a character you just have to love because, poor thing, nothing goes right for him. Towards the middle, the book becomes a bit dull for my tastes. There are long passages devoted to the thieves’ doings, which, when it comes right down to it, don’t add a whole lot more to the story. In particular, there’s the long description of Sykes and Oliver traipsing all about on their way to rob a house. Towards the end, the reader loses sight of Oliver all together for several chapters, which is more than a bit odd considering he’s the titular character. The ending is a bit too tidy – with the exception of Nancy, everyone gets their just desserts, whether that be a punishment or a reward. On the positive side, Oliver Twist contains a number of great memorable characters, even the minor ones like Mr. Bumble and Mr. Grimwig (and I just love their names, too). The aforementioned irony is always a plus for me, and I listened to an audio version with an excellent narrator who was spot-on when it came to the ironic parts. And, as I mentioned earlier as well, Dickens uses Oliver Twist to comment on serious issues of the day such as poverty and crime.On the down side, the reader has to overlook the latent anti-Semitism when it comes to the character of Fagin, the ring leader of the gang, who is almost always referred to as “the Jew.” There are also some rather ridiculously hard to believe bits of essential plot. For instance, Monks is described as being evil from his birth but Mr. Brownlow basically calls Monks a cad and he confesses to everything. Likewise, a few of the lifelong criminals feel remorse at the end a little too easily for me to believe. Meanwhile, the coincidences were just too much as well. In David Copperfield, it’s believable (albeit sometimes a bit of a stretch) for David to continually bump into old friends in unlikely or random places. But what are the chances that Oliver’s only two run-ins with decent people put him in the hands of his late father’s dear friend and Oliver’s own aunt (unbeknownst to them both)? It’s nice to see Oliver finally with friends and family, but it’s just too unbelievable!!While this wasn’t my favorite Dickens’ novel (David Copperfield still takes first place, followed by Great Expectations), I did enjoy it for the most part and would recommend it for fans of Dickens in particular or Victorian literature in general.more
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is another classic by that master of storytelling, Charles Dickens. First published in 1838, the novel is a strong protest against the cruel conditions then facing the indigent in England. Dickens is furious at the abuses of the workhouse system but he never loses control of his clipped, unrelenting sarcasm, even when speaking of daily bureaucratic villainies. He knows just how far to take it. And what is so amazing about Dickens' genius is that his invective never overtakes the story; the story is never just an excuse for the protest. Social reform is a big ingredient of Dickens' work, but his work doesn't reduce to that. Please note there are some spoilers in this review.The storyline of Oliver Twist is very well known. Oliver, born of an unwed mother in a workhouse, suffers a deprived childhood under the tender care of parish officials (it is here that he is punished for famously asking, "Please, sir, I want some more"). At age nine Oliver is apprenticed to a coffin-maker, but is eventually driven from that harsh home. Oliver makes his way to London, where he is picked up by the Artful Dodger, one of a small gang of criminals. This gang is led by Fagin, an elderly Jew who trains the band in the art of theft and picking pockets. But Fagin has a special reason for making Oliver a thief. There is some mystery surrounding Oliver's birth, but how can it be discovered? What is the real history of his nameless mother, and why would anyone still care?What strikes me principally about Oliver Twist is its gritty feel. Dickens doesn't hesitate in his other books to show poverty and suffering, but this story goes beyond that and portrays the individuals who people the seamy side of London in all their foulness and degradation. And yet at the same time, innocent Oliver provides the moral center of the novel. Often his innocence is taken advantage of and his naive youth manipulated, but the message is clear: moral virtue will always be rewarded in the end. This has been likened to a fairy tale, in which the good always triumph and the wicked are always punished.I suppose it is also like a fairy tale in the sense that our hero Oliver possesses such high principles and firm moral character when all his life has been spent among other wretched children under selfish, calloused overseers. No one is naturally that good. I also found it difficult to appreciate Dickens' angelic female, Rose Maylie. Sometimes the descriptions of Rose are too flowery to bear. Perhaps Dickens overdid it just a bit to refresh himself after writing all his realistic gritty villains?But Dickens makes up for these weaknesses with several brilliant characters, most notably Nancy, the fallen woman who is almost redeemed. Her struggle with the inexplicable desire to stay in her wretched life is probably the truest thing Dickens ever wrote. Nancy can envision a different life should she accept the help of Oliver's friends, but something in her clings instead to her old life. She returns to the scenes of her degradation, loyal even to the fiends who dragged her there — and dies for it. It is utterly tragic, and the worst of it is that she could have been different if Fagin and others had not set out to corrupt her. Little acts of selfishness can change another person's life forever.I imagine there are essays discussing Dickens' anti-Semitism as depicted in Fagin, the foul crook who is more often than not referred to as "the Jew." It can't be denied that Fagin is a singularly distasteful character, with a stereotypical love of lucre, but I think there is a little more to it. First, the unlovely descriptions of Fagin are not that different from the descriptions of Dickens' many other villains. And somehow Dickens makes me pity Fagin, despite all his crimes. The chapter near the end that deals with Fagin's trial and state of mind after being sentenced to death is a masterpiece of psychological scrutiny, entirely believable and, in its way, heart wringing. I think Dickens pities Fagin too, not for his Jewishness but for the dreadful sneaking life he has lived and the horror of his death.Certain moments stand out, crystalline in their emotional clarity. I think of Mr. Brownlow and Mr. Grimwig sitting across from one another with the watch between them, measuring Oliver's character. Or Nancy telling Rose through tears that "if there was more like you, there would be fewer like me." Or Sikes grinding his chair up against the wall, to keep the specter of his guilt from hovering at his back. Other moments are brilliant in their humor, like Mr. Grimwig threatening to eat his head and Mr. Giles telling of his daring exploits. There is just so much here. I listened to this on audiobook read by Nadia May, and I understand why her work is so acclaimed. She has a warm voice and accent that wear well over the course of a long book like this. I could tell she was enjoying performing the story just as much as I was enjoying the performance. Her voice graces this story and I will certainly be looking for more audiobooks read by her.All of this, this grand drama made up of petty cruelties, of small thefts and dramatic murders, of the uneven love between degraded man and degraded woman, of innocence, poverty, crime, desperation — all of this is Dickens' arena and he performs it like no one else. Oliver Twist reminds me why we still read classic literature today.more
It’s hard not to think of Dickens himself while reading this book, and the horrors he went through as a child. He was the 2nd of 8 children and his father and most of the rest of his family were sent away to debtor’s prison; Charles was then forced into childhood labor pasting labels on shoe polish under very strenuous conditions. While he often is criticized for characters which are not three-dimensional and for constantly referring to the villain Fagan as “the Jew”, Oliver Twist is a memorable story and a classic.Quotes:On poor children:“Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have assigned him his proper station in society. But now that he was enveloped in the old calico robes which had grown yellow in the same service, he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child – the orphan of a workhouse – the humble, half-starved drudge – to be cuffed and buffeted through the world – despised by all, and pitied by none.Oliver cried lustily. If he had known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of the churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.”On good and evil in men:“Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts exercises, even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature and their fellow men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colors are reflections from their own jaundiced eyes and hearts. The real hues are delicate, and need a clearer vision.”more
Nobody can write about abused orphans like Charles Dickens. Oliver Twist, a baby born in a workhouse to a mysterious woman is raised in the system. His kind and loving nature make him a vulnerable target for a group of children thieves led by the character Dickens calls "The Jew," Fagin. They have their own little family of lost boys who serve Fagin, who in turn is somewhat subservient to a very evil man, Bill Sykes. Oliver ends up in kind hands for a short time, and then once again falls prey to the villainous men who want to use him up. I'm a great fan of the musical Oliver!, and that musical stayed pretty on track with the story and the nature of the characters, although there are great chunks of plot left out of the musical as well as some key players, but the musical story wasn't diminished in my eyes. I still love it and I found Oliver Twist to be fascinating. The 19th century time period and Dickens's use of language really made this a great read.more
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