Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist
© 1837 Charles Dickens
447 pages

“Please, sir, I want some more.”   I had never read or otherwise encountered Oliver Twist before this month, but I immediately recognized that quote. Something about little Oliver sticks in the minds of other readers, just as it stuck in the mind of many characters who encountered him.  Oliver Twist is the story of an orphan who seems to escape and again from the clutches of uncaring or malicious adults, only to find himself right back in trouble. It was trouble that started before his birth, for as this narrative follows young Oliver’s birth until he is about eleven or twelve,  its happenings eventually reveal a more elaborate family drama.  While Oliver is passing in and out of the hands of hostile adults — first uncaring taskmasters, then criminals, who capture him after he escapes —  the arrival of a man with a mysterious past heightens the mortal danger to the boy, far beyond that of ordinary neglect and abuse.  The novel is replete with memorable characters, particularly Nancy —  a teenage girl associated with a gang of criminals, who helps them kidnap him for labor but regrets her actions, later laboring to atone for them.  Although this story is more grim than anything else I’ve read of Dickens, I appreciated the earn-your-happy-ending type conclusion, in which Oliver finally finds happiness but at the cost of a dear friend.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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8 Responses to Oliver Twist

  1. Brian Joseph says:

    I read this for the first time last year. I loved it. It is interesting how so many Dickens quotes, characters and ideas have worked their way into our culture. It seems common to be familiar with many of them even when we have not actually read the book that they originated in.

  2. mudpuddle says:

    i read this way too early and got nightmares from it… and have avoided it ever since, although i like other Dickens' works… i guess his childhood was not sugarplums and light (Charles', i mean…).

  3. Marian H says:

    I haven't read this in so many years… I think I would like it more now. There's also an entertaining (albeit too lighthearted?) adaptation starring Elijah Wood as the Artful Dodger.

  4. Stephen says:

    Besides Oliver, the “Artful Dodger” was the only character I'd heard of. That description sticks out!

  5. Stephen says:

    I can imagine that…lots of maliciousness here to encounter as a young one! I used to have nightmares about kidnapping myself, mostly because of Shatner's “Rescue 911”..

  6. Stephen says:

    Whoa, that must have been…pre-Flipper, because I think Wood was bearing in his mid-teens at that point. It's hard to imagine Oliver Twist as lighthearted, but I will keep my eyes open.I just doubled-checked, and Oliver Twist was released a year after Flipper.

  7. Once upon a time I was a huge Dickens fan. I would read him again, but I'm swamped with so many new authors I'm discovering.What I admire about Dickens, though, is that he gives that comforting resolution at the end without, in my opinion, being too syrupy about it.

  8. Pingback: Classics Club Run I: Final List | Reading Freely

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