Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist

4.3 298
by Charles Dickens
     
 

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Oliver Twist has long held a position of great popularity among readers of Charles Dickens. It has been adapted for film, for the theater and for television, and has also been turned into the stage musical, Oliver! In a wonderfully absorbing novel, Charles Dickens tells the story of an unfortunate orphan boy in his journey from a harsh workhouse, whereSee more details below

Overview

Oliver Twist has long held a position of great popularity among readers of Charles Dickens. It has been adapted for film, for the theater and for television, and has also been turned into the stage musical, Oliver! In a wonderfully absorbing novel, Charles Dickens tells the story of an unfortunate orphan boy in his journey from a harsh workhouse, where he is punished for asking for more, into the wider, more dangerous world. Many of the book's characters have become household names, in particular Fagin and the "Artful Dodger," two of the colorful criminals that Oliver meets in his adventures through the lowlife haunts of Victorian London. The story is a thrilling one of good fighting against evil, packed with suspense, humor, vitality, pity and drama, with an innocent young boy at its center. Dickens was a great showman and this is one of his finest shows.

The handsome volumes in The Collectors Library present great works of world literature in a handy hardback format. Printed on high-quality paper and bound in real cloth, each complete and unabridged volume has a specially commissioned afterword, brief biography of the author and a further-reading list. This easily accessible series offers readers the perfect opportunity to discover, or rediscover, some of the world's most endearing literary works.

The volumes in The Collector's Library are sumptuously produced, enduring editions to own, to collect and to treasure.

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Editorial Reviews

Saturday Review
Mr. Dickens may be reasonably proud of these volumes.... he has written a story that is new, original, powerful and very entertaining.... It is in his best vein, and although it is too slight, and bears many traces of hasty writing, it is quite worthy to stand beside Martin Chuzzlewit and David Copperfield.
—July 20, 1861
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A Twist of Beauty. An inviting design may inspire readers of a newly abridged edition of Charles Dickens's classic Oliver Twist to join the hero in asking, please sir, for more. Christian Birmingham spots nearly every page of text with a small, charcoal-gray image, and complements important scenes with full-page color illustrations. Birmingham's hues are predominantly deep, somber and gritty, but not without occasional flashes of royal blues and golds. Text is shaded in the faintest yellow, soft on the eye.
Children's Literature - 8 up, $19 99
Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, abridged by Lesley Baxter and illustrated by Christian Birmingham has a cover that shows Oliver holding out his bowl, wide-eyed with wanting, making for immediate appeal. The telling is just accessible and retains the story's flavor and suspense.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Oliver Twist is a young boy caught up in terrible circumstances--young and poor, he is led into a life of crime. Dickens wrote his story to bring attention to the appalling conditions faced by London's poor and especially the plight of poor children. His story is gripping and the characters memorable. Andrews has illustrated the story with pencil illustrations. The soft, muted colors fit well with the gloomy atmosphere of London's underworld peopled with the likes of Fagin and the Artful Dodger. Oliver as it turns out was the illegitimate son of a man of means and in the end his life takes a turn for the better--which was not the fate of most of his contemporaries. 1999, DK Publishing, Ages 8 to 12, $14.95. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
ALAN Review
The latest edition to the Eyewitness Classic series is the tale of Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist. First published in England in serial form from 1837-38, Oliver Twist was also the first novel in the English language featuring a youngster as the protagonist. Adapted by Naia Bray-Moffat, this Oliver is a fascinating historical picture of Victorian London. The picturesque characters and mesmerizing plot-perhaps more familiar to modern audiences through the musical version on stage and screen-gain new life in the story of the futility of crime through the addition of historical detail and carefully crafted illustrations. For those searching for a way to bring the classics to life, DK Publishing provides a smart solution. This easy to read adaptation and accompanying material about children and crime in the 19th century England--including a map of Oliver's underground world,--is just the "thing" to help young people learn about Dickens' London. Additional volumes in the series include 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Robinson Crusoe, King Arthur, Aladdin, A Christmas Carol, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dracula, Robin Hood, and Black Beauty. Genre: Classics. 1999, DK Publishing, Ages 8 up, $14.95. Reviewer: Judy Hayn
Library Journal
Oliver Twist was Dickens's second novel and one of his darkest, dealing with burglary, kidnapping, child abuse, prostitution, and murder. Alongside this gallery of horrors are the corrupt and incompetent institutions of 19th-century England set up to address social problems and instead making them worse. The author's moral indignation drives the creation of some of his most memorably grotesque characters: squirming, vile Fagin; brutal Bill Sykes; the brooding, sickly Monks; and Bumble, the pompous and incorrigibly dense beadle. Clearly, a reading of this work must carry the author's passionate narrative voice while being flexible and broad enough to define the wide range of character voices suggested by the text. John Wells's capable but bland reading only suggests the rich possibilities of the material. Restraint and Dickens simply don't go together. The abridgment deftly and seamlessly manages to deliver all major characters and plot lines, but there are many superior audiobook versions of this material, both abridged and unabridged. Not recommended.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-A BBC radio dramatization of Dickens' classic. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
The inimitable Martin Jarvis brings his talents to bear on Charles Dickens's classic in an audiobook that will delight listeners with its superb recreations of gritty 19th-century London. To escape Mr. Bumble and life in the workhouse, Oliver flees to London where he meets the Artful Dodger and becomes embroiled with Fagin's ragtag band of thieves. Jarvis simply dazzles: his performance captures both the humor and sorrow of the text, his narration is crisp, and his characterizations--his rendition of the terrifying district magistrate, Mr. Fang, is particularly memorable--are as varied as they are energetic, befitting, and enjoyable. (June)
From the Publisher
"The power of [Dickens] is so amazing, that the reader at once becomes his captive, and must follow him whithersoever he leads."
--William Makepeace Thackeray

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780613016117
Publisher:
San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/28/1997
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was born,
and of the circumstances attending his birth.

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born — on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events — the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all, in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared, or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography extant in the literature of any age or country.

Although I am not disposed to maintain that being born in a workhouse is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration — a troublesome practice, but one whichcustom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next, the balance being decidedly in favor of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer, and a parish surgeon who did such matters by contract, Oliver and Nature fought out the point between them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter.

As Oliver gave this first proof of the free and proper action of his lungs, the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over the iron bedstead, rustled; the pale face of a young woman was raised feebly from the pillow, and a faint voice imperfectly articulated the words, "Let me see the child, and die."

The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire, giving the palms of his hands a warm and a rub alternately. As the young woman spoke,he rose, and advancing to the bed's head, said with more kindness than might have been expected of him:

"Oh, you must not talk about dying yet."

"Lor bless her dear heart, no!" interposed the nurse, hastily depositing in her pocket a green glass bottle, the contents of which she had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfaction. "Lor bless her dear heart, when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two, and them in the wurkus with me, she'll know better than to take on in that way, bless her dear heart! Think what it is to be a mother, there's a dear young lamb, do."

Apparently this consolatory perspective of a mother's prospects failed in producing its due effect. The patient shook her head, and stretched out her hand towards the child.

The surgeon deposited it in her arms. She imprinted her cold white lips passionately on its forehead, passed her hands over her face, gazed wildly round, shuddered, fell back-and died. They chafed her breast, hands, and temples; but the blood had stopped for ever. They talked of hope and comfort. They had been strangers too long.

"It's all over, Mrs. Thingummy!" said the surgeon at last.

"Ah, poor dear, so it is!" said the nurse, picking up the cork of the green bottle, which had fallen out on the pillow, as she stooped to take up the child. "Poor dear!"

"You needn't mind sending UP to me, if the child cries, nurse," said the surgeon, putting on his gloves with great deliberation. "It's very likely it will be troublesome. Give it a little gruel if it is." He put on his hat, and, pausing by the bedside on his way to the door, added, "She was a good-looking girl, too; where did she come from?"

"She was brought here last night," replied the old woman, "by the overseer's order. She was found lying in the street. She had walked some distance, for her shoes were worn to pieces; but where she came from, or where she was going to, nobody knows."

The surgeon leaned over the body, and raised the left hand. "The old story," he said, shaking his head: "no wedding-ring, I see. Ah! Good night!"

The medical gentleman walked away to dinner; and the nurse, having once more applied herself to the green bottle, sat down on a low chair before the fire, and proceeded to dress the infant.

What an excellent example of the power of dress, young Oliver Twist was! 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 could have known that he was an orphan, left to the tender mercies of churchwardens and overseers, perhaps he would have cried the louder.

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What People are saying about this

George Gissing
Observe how finely the narrative is kept in one key. It begins with a mournful impession—the foggy marshes spreading drearily by the seaward Thames—and throughout recurs this effect of cold and damp and dreariness; in that kind Dickens never did anything so good.... No story in the first person was ever better told.

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