Oliver Twist (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

One of Dickens’s most popular novels, Oliver Twist is the story of a young orphan who dares to say, "Please, sir, I want some more." After escaping from the dark and dismal workhouse where he was born, Oliver finds himself on the mean streets of Victorian-era London and is unwittingly recruited into a scabrous gang of scheming urchins. In this band of petty thieves Oliver encounters the extraordinary and vibrant characters who have captured readers’ imaginations for more than 150 years: the loathsome Fagin, the beautiful and tragic Nancy, the crafty Artful Dodger, and perhaps one of the greatest villains of all time—the terrifying Bill Sikes.

Rife with Dickens’s disturbing descriptions of street life, the novel is buoyed by the purity of the orphan Oliver. Though he is treated with cruelty and surrounded by coarseness for most of his life, his pious innocence leads him at last to salvation—and the shocking discovery of his true identity.

Features illustrations by George Cruikshank.

Jill Muller was born in England and educated at Mercy College and Columbia University, and currently teaches at Mercy College and Columbia University. She is working on a book on the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, to be published by Routledge.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593081744
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 11/1/2005
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Pages: 512
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 1.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens
Jill Muller was born in England and educated at Mercy College and Columbia University, and currently teaches at Mercy College and Columbia University. She is working on a book on the Victorian poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, to be published by Routledge.

Biography

Born on February 7, 1812, Charles Dickens was the second of eight children in a family burdened with financial troubles. Despite difficult early years, he became the most successful British writer of the Victorian age.

In 1824, young Charles was withdrawn from school and forced to work at a boot-blacking factory when his improvident father, accompanied by his mother and siblings, was sentenced to three months in a debtor's prison. Once they were released, Charles attended a private school for three years. The young man then became a solicitor's clerk, mastered shorthand, and before long was employed as a Parliamentary reporter. When he was in his early twenties, Dickens began to publish stories and sketches of London life in a variety of periodicals.

It was the publication of Pickwick Papers (1836-1837) that catapulted the twenty-five-year-old author to national renown. Dickens wrote with unequaled speed and often worked on several novels at a time, publishing them first in monthly installments and then as books. His early novels Oliver Twist (1837-1838), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-1839), The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1841), and A Christmas Carol (1843) solidified his enormous, ongoing popularity. As Dickens matured, his social criticism became increasingly biting, his humor dark, and his view of poverty darker still. David Copperfield (1849-1850), Bleak House (1852-1853), Hard Times (1854), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1861), and Our Mutual Friend (1864-1865) are the great works of his masterful and prolific period.

In 1858 Dickens's twenty-three-year marriage to Catherine Hogarth dissolved when he fell in love with Ellen Ternan, a young actress. The last years of his life were filled with intense activity: writing, managing amateur theatricals, and undertaking several reading tours that reinforced the public's favorable view of his work but took an enormous toll on his health. Working feverishly to the last, Dickens collapsed and died on June 8, 1870, leaving The Mystery of Edwin Drood uncompleted.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of David Copperfield.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles John Huffam Dickens (full name) "Boz" (pen name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 7, 1812
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portsmouth, England
    1. Date of Death:
      June 18, 1870
    2. Place of Death:
      Gad's Hill, Kent, England

Read an Excerpt

From Jill Muller's Introduction to Oliver Twist

Second novels separate the sheep from the goats, the possessors of enduring talent from the mere purveyors of flash-in-the-pan literary sensation. Many writers embark on a second novel with a good deal of trepidation, especially if their first book has achieved the kind of instant acclaim awarded to Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers. If Dickens experienced any such anxiety when he set out to write Oliver Twist, he countered it with his lifelong drug of choice, a frenetic and compulsive productivity. Appearing in monthly installments, the usual mode of publication for novels until late in the nineteenth century, Oliver Twist was mostly written in tandem with other projects. When the first two chapters were published in Bentley's Miscellany in February 1837, Dickens was still writing Pickwick Papers as a serial for Chapman and Hall. With Pickwick Papers completed in November 1837, the twenty-five-year-old Dickens devoted himself to Oliver Twist for a mere four months before beginning a third novel, Nicholas Nickleby. Oliver Twist was finished and published in three volumes in November 1838, while the serial version in Bentley's still had five months to run. This frenzied pace of production was halted only once, in June 1837, when the intensity of his grief over the sudden death of his seventeen-year-old sister-in-law, Mary Hogarth, forced Dickens to postpone that month's installments of both Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist. Mary Hogarth is memorialized as Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist.

Where many young writers would have been tempted to stay with a winning formula, Dickens's second novel was a total departure from the timeless comedic world of Pickwick Papers. The first three installments of Oliver Twist employed ferocious satire to address a contemporary social evil, the sufferings of the poor in the new workhouses mandated by the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. Then, with the introduction of Fagin and his gang of juvenile pickpockets in the fourth installment, Dickens's readers found themselves plunged into London's criminal underworld. The novel's final installment contained a gruesome murder, a manhunt, and a hanging. While a few readers, such as the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, were shocked by Dickens's turn to such sordid subject matter, many more, including nineteen-year-old Queen Victoria, were enthralled. Oliver Twist was every bit as popular as Pickwick Papers. Three dramatizations played in London theaters during the winter of 1838-1839. Perfectly complemented by George Cruikshank's quirky illustrations, the novel was in a third edition by 1841, and even spawned an imitation, Thomas Prest's Oliver Twiss. It remained a bestseller through Dickens's lifetime and beyond. The penny edition of 1871 sold 150,000 copies in three weeks. During the last decade of his life, Dickens toured England, Ireland, and America, giving public readings of favorite sections from his novels. "Sikes and Nancy," based on chapter XLVII of Oliver Twist, was a particular favorite of both author and audience. While Dickens's rendition of Nancy's brutal murder sent audiences into fits of screaming and fainting, a physician waited backstage to monitor the ailing author's pulse rate. Dickens's friend and biographer John Forster speculated that the energy and fervor with which Dickens threw himself into these performances may have contributed to his early death from heart disease in 1870.

Oliver Twist remains one of the best known and most popular of Dickens's novels. Translated, adapted, dramatized, filmed (most notably by David Lean in 1948), and even turned into a musical, the story of Little Orphan Oliver and his grotesque tormentors has passed into popular culture. Millions of people who have never opened the nineteenth-century novel are familiar with the image of a ragged child holding out his porringer and asking for more. Like Robinson Crusoe or Huck Finn, Oliver has evolved from fiction into fable and archetype. Or perhaps he has simply returned to his roots. The characters and settings of Oliver Twist resonate so deeply and so variously because they echo a diverse collection of popular genres. The novel is at once social satire, thriller, melodrama, autobiography, fairy tale, moral fable, and religious allegory. While some of the specific texts that influenced Oliver Twist's composition are no longer familiar to contemporary readers and may require some literary excavation, each of the various genres whose competing voices create the novel's seductive energy survive and are easily recognizable in modern forms of entertainment.

Like its predecessor, Pickwick Papers, Dickens's second novel reflects his childhood passion for the eighteenth-century picaresque novels Tom Jones and Roderick Random. As in the novels by Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett, the plot of Oliver Twist revolves around illegitimacy and disputed inheritance. Like his literary forebears, Oliver is unaware of his true identity and adrift in a world of rogues and schemers. Unlike the more robust heroes of Fielding and Smollett, however, Dickens's orphan does not grow up; he remains a frail and passive child throughout the novel, more victim than protagonist. Oliver's failure to reach adolescence preserves him from the sexual temptations that befall Tom Jones and Roderick Random, perhaps making it easier for Dickens to persuade his Victorian audience that "little Oliver" embodies "the purest good."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 320 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(216)

4 Star

(39)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(13)

1 Star

(28)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 321 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    Charles Dickens and the poor

    Charles Dickens uses the novel Oliver Twist similarly to his many other novels to portray the life of the poor through the struggle of the main character. Oliver Twist is a bast@rd child who is forced into an orphanage (workhouse) for the poor. He eventually runs off and gets tangled up with a group of other poor children who steal for their leader in crime Fagin. While there, he learns the tricks of the trade and also discovers that it is not the life for him and struggles to get out. Charles Dickens does an excellent job of ridiculing the upper and middle class for their treatment of the poor, while delivering an excellent story about the adventures of Oliver Twist.

    14 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 23, 2011

    Not the whole book

    This version is only the first half of the book, I believe.

    11 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2009

    A CLASSIC!

    The book Oliver Twist written by Charles Dickens was very good. During the first semester of history I learned about the industrial revolution. Many children had to work long hours in factories or workhouses. The conditions were really bad. Oliver had to work in the workhouse from the time he was very young. I feel that it was unjust and cruel to make a little child work in a workhouse at such a young age. The children suffered greatly because food was scarce and also the work hours were so harsh it caused the children to become very weak and sick.
    The relationship between Oliver and Dodger is very strong. I think even though Dodger is a bad boy he is a good friend to Oliver. Dodger's personality is good though. He is very friendly and is a brother figure to Oliver. Oliver needs a friend like that because he an orphan, has been through a lot of harsh times working and living at the workhouse, and never met his family before.
    I also liked the plot of the story. Oliver is on a search to find his family with the help of the locket that his mother left for him after she gave birth to him. Oliver's persistent personality helps him through out the journey. He meets many various people that affect his life forever. For example, Dodger.
    I recommend this book to anyone that likes a book with suspense and a hint of history. I personally liked the book because I read it after I knew some information on the industrial revolution when this book takes place. The book made a lot of sense to me because I had a lot of knowledge of the industrial revolution and about the time period when the book takes place.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2000

    A young boy born in a filthy English work house.

    This story is about a young boy named Oliver Twist born in a work house in the mid 1800's. A work house is like todays orphange. This work house was very dirty and their was never enough to eat. Oliver is just a shy boy who can not take the harsh conditions of the work house. Oliver runs to London only to fall in with a croud of a youth pickpocket gang led by the crimnal Mr. Fagin. Oliver befriends some one in the gang, and finds his true identity, and gets his long over due inhairtence. This book is a classic Dickens book filled with action and suspence. I would give it 4 stars.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I <3 Charles Dickens

    My second Dickens work was not quite the ecstatic experience my first was, but it was still amazing. He does have a different sentence structure and they do tend to run on, but when you're done and you reflect on what you just read ... it was well worth the effort!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 14, 2009

    Book Review: Oliver Twist

    A young orphan born into a cruel world. Abused and mistreated by all of his peers, yet innocent at heart. Through good will the orphan finally finds his place in society, being accepted into his dream family. Sound a bit cliche? It should since this is a very common theme and plot that is present in many stories and novels. Although Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, has the same cliche plot, it offers so much more through Dickens' mastery of the English language and his effectiveness at writing with it. In the book, Dickens vividly portrays nineteenth century London and the harsh conditions that the majority of the population have to endure. At first, it was somewhat difficult to comprehend Dickens' writing style, but as I became more familiar with it, it started to become easier to understand. The book starts with Oliver's birth in a child labor workhouse. Unfortunately Oliver's mother dies shortly after giving birth and Oliver is left in the care of the caretakers of the workhouse. Oliver is forced to work for the undertakers for the good majority of his childhood, but after his famous, "Please may I have some more," line, he is traded away by the workhouse for his rebellion. From there, he is apprenticed by a coffin maker. After being provoked into a fight with another apprentice, Oliver leaves and is eventually picked up by a pick-pocketing gang in London. From there the plot thickens, more conflicts arise, and poor Oliver is caught between everything. Despite this, Oliver eventually receives the happy ending he deserves.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2001

    Oliver Twist

    This story is a pretty much unabriged story compared to all the other Oliver Twist books I've read. A great book. Makes sense and does not have the word sense of Charles Dickens. I recommend this book for readers ages 9-23. As soon as you pick up this book you will not want to put it down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2011

    idk

    i hinkghisnlooks like a good book but i diddnt get it bu if u r in theage group of 10-13 years old get a liz trigg book they r awesom

    2 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2012

    A captivating story!

    I had been for a long time having an obsession with the movie musical Oliver!. I have been enjoying the film (and I don't care about all the nasty things that people say about it) and my mother went out and got me a copy of the book because she knew how much I love the musical. Because the print in my paperback copy was very difficult to read, I ended up getting the nook edition. I've fallen in love with the story, and it bears a close resmblance to it's musical adaption. It's defintely worth the time it may take you to read it, and is a true classic. It is one of the many stories that has increased my love of Charles Dickens's works.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    To not the whole book

    Thisvis the whole book and if you say you believe it is but you arent sure, figure out the facts if you have never read this book before and you arent so sure find someone who does bc im tired of peeps trying to vsay that something isnt the full thing and they dont know if it is or not if u rnt sure find someone who does. Gosh im tiref of this mess.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2011

    How many chapters?

    I read this book before, but I don't remember how many capters it has..... Can anyone tell mr?

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    G

    Good

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2011

    The game on diet,

    Diet book

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    Classic for a Reason

    This was one of the books that I missed in my earlier days and always felt that I should read. It was surprisingly a quick read with fabulous plot and character developement. I would love to read more Dickens in the future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    Ick

    Its just my kind of book.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2011

    Oliver twist

    i only highlight words so i do not read this vook

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2011

    Fun read

    I read this book a long time ago and I love if it. The story was awesome and extremly entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2010

    This novel never gets too old

    Charles Dickens writing style is so human, it reads as though it was written recently. You can almost feel every pain that Oliver feels. I've read it many times.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2010

    Recommend you read this book!

    Oliver Twist is a complex story about a young boy who tries to find his place in this world. He wanders into sticky situations along the way, including a pick pocketer, bad adoptive parents and he had to walk 26 miles in three days to find salvation. Through his journey, Oliver runs into a wise little street tough who has knowledge about the big city, while beforehand being starved and mistreated by his previously adopted parent. I recommend this riviating tale to anyone who is a fan of Charles Dickens or a reader with a taste for high vocabulary.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    Oliver Twist does not disappoint

    I love this book! I'm trying to catch up on some classics that I never read in school and this is one of my favorites so far. The ultimate "down on his luck" kind of book, it has so much more than the movie/tv versions. You really get to know the characters so well. Dickens has a way of painting a picture with his words that makes it seem like you're right there with Oliver, through his pain and his joys, his highs and lows, his triumphs and failures. I felt I was whisked away to 18th century London and not shown the upper class fiction, but the real underside of the city that is rarely shown. The people and places described in this book will stay with you for a very long time! And even though there is an epilogue of sorts, it left me wanting much, much more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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