Oliver Twist

( 4201 )

Overview

Oliver Twist is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker.

He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naïvely unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal ...

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Oliver Twist

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Overview

Oliver Twist is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan, Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker.

He escapes and travels to London where he meets the Artful Dodger, leader of a gang of juvenile pickpockets. Naïvely unaware of their unlawful activities, Oliver is led to the lair of their elderly criminal trainer Fagin.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr6–8—A graphic retelling of the classic, Great Expectations is rushed, confusing, and an unpleasant read. At times it is difficult to tell the characters apart, mainly because of the lack of depth in the secondary players, and because the artwork is flat and impassive. The plot is without focus, so struggling readers will have an issue with continuity. Oliver Twist has similar problems. The flow is choppy, characterization is nonexistent, and the compression of the story line adds to the confusion. The artwork, black-and-white rough sketching, is inconsistent. Panels range from clean and distinct to dark and busy. As in the first book, some characters are indistinguishable from page to page. The combination of story and artwork will not create new fans of graphic novels.—Mariela Siegert, Westfield Middle School, Bloomingdale, IL
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
"Narrator Simon Vance raises a banner that announces a once-in-a-lifetime performance that exquisitely matches narrator and text. Vance has a mellifluous English voice, an engaging tone, and marvelous diction." —-AudioFile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400136957
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of England's greatest writers. Best known for his classic serialized novels, such as "Oliver Twist", "A Tale of Two Cities", and "Great Expectations", Dickens wrote about the London he lived in, the conditions of the poor, and the growing tensions between the classes. He achieved critical and popular international success in his lifetime and was honored with burial in Westminster Abbey.

Simon Vance is a prolific and popular audiobook narrator and actor with several hundred audiobooks to his credit. An Audie(R) Award-winner, Vance was recently named "The Voice of Choice" by "Booklist" magazine.

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

Chapter I

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 the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befal 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 which custom 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 favour 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 gruel7 if it is." He put on his hat, and, pausing by the bed-side 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."

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Chronology of Dickens's Life and Work

Historical Context of Oliver Twist

OLIVER TWIST

Notes

Interpretive Notes

Critical Excerpts

Questions for Discussion

Suggestions for the Interested Reader

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Reading Group Guide

1. Oliver Twist has been called a social satire, a melodrama, a cheaply sentimental novel, and a masterpiece. How would you categorize the novel and why?

2. Some critics have observed that Oliver Twist is merely a passive pawn in the deadly match between good and evil. It is further stipulated that the “good” characters, such as Mr. Brownlow and the Maylies, pale in comparison to the villains Fagan and Bill Sikes. Do you agree? Which characters are the most vivid and why?

3. According to the novelist George Gissing, “Oliver Twist had a twofold moral purpose: to exhibit the evil working of the Poor Law Act, and to give a faithful picture of the life of thieves in London.” How effective is Dickens in capturing these two worlds and what is the relationship between them? How does the author use social satire to advocate social reform?

4. In The Author’s Preface to the Third Edition Dickens staunchly defends his decision to depict low-life characters in a realistic manner. Drawing on the author’s arguments, what can you glean about Victorian sensibilities at the time Oliver Twist was published?

5. In 1863, a reader chided Dickens for his anti-Semitic portrayal of Fagin. Dickens responded, “If there be any general feeling on the part of the intelligent Jewish people, that I have done them what you describe as ‘a great wrong,’ they are a far less sensible people than I have always supposed them to be . . . Fagin, in Oliver Twist, is a Jew, because it unfortunately was true of the time to which that story refers, that that class of criminal almost invariably was a Jew.” Should novelists be held accountable for invoking negative stereotypes? Can you think of additional examples of stereotypes in classic literature? Discuss.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4201 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3178)

4 Star

(470)

3 Star

(245)

2 Star

(128)

1 Star

(180)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 4204 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Oliver Twist lives up to it's name.

    After years of people telling me how great this book was I decided to read it to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out that it lived up to my expectations. This book is well written and a classic story about an orphan and his surrounding characters. There is drama, fear, compasion, and so many more emotions Dickens put into this novel. It's a good read; you won't be disapointed!

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 27, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Okay

    I am a good, fast reader but the thing is with this book the senetences are paragraphs, so you know it is pretty hard to read. However this book is really good. It teaches good lessons and stuff like that. I would totaly recommend it (as long as you can read the LONGEST sentences in THE world)! If you are into good books with long sentences try The Adventures and the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. Just simply amazing books try Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Twilight (good higher level vocabulary).<BR/>Note I am a 11 year old so the vocab is higher level for me!

    8 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2013

    Awsome book

    This a good book and im jewish and oliver is also so its interesting. If you read this review and you like it, please hit the like button

    5 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2012

    Excellent for Younger Children

    Getting your child to read one of those classic novels can certainly be a challenge. Thanks to Jonathan Keeble and Roy McMillian this task has been revolutionized. The classic story "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens has been retold for younger listeners on audiobook. Created with children ages 8-13 in mind, this audiobook features the original text found in Dicken's classic but the words are simplified and clarified at certain points throughout the story to ensure that the child understands them and can easily follow along with the storyline. This audiobook re-telling of the classic Oliver Twist will keep children's attention and have them engaged in the story through its unique and captivating audio.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    Oliver Twist

    I liked this book very much. I love Oliver; I feel so much sympathy for him. He had such

    a terrible life growing up. I felt like I wanted to just jump into the book and give Oliver a hug. I

    also love how surprising the ending is. I was not expecting to find out that Monks was Oliver¿s

    half brother. I had no clue at all. It was amazing how all of the people in the story matched up in

    some way. I was not expecting Rose to be the sister of Oliver¿s mother at all! Rose did

    say something about how she had a strange background, but I was not thinking that she was

    related to Oliver. What I didn¿t like was that all the surprising things happened so close together

    at the end of the book. It was kind of hard to take each shock one after another.

    One of my favorite parts of this book was the romance between Rose and Harry Maylie. I

    was not expecting this to be in a book about an orphan. I loved how it was worked into the story,

    because I am always attracted to books and movies that have a love story. It was a pleasant

    surprise to see it in this book.

    My favorite characters were Mr. Brownlow and Oliver. I loved Oliver because he is just

    such a sweet human being and he always does what he thinks is right. Even when he did attack

    Noah, he did it for a justified reason! No one should be talking badly about someone else¿s

    mother; especially when that person¿s mother is not alive and the person never got to meet their

    mother.

    I loved Mr. Brownlow because he saw the good in Oliver. Mr. Brownlow took Oliver in

    and nursed him to health, even though he was the suspect for stealing a handkerchief that

    belonged to him. He saw that Oliver was an innocent little boy and a good person. When Oliver

    was kidnapped, Mr. Brownlow still wanted to find Oliver. He wanted to get proof that Oliver

    was the good person that he thought he was. He eventually did find him. Overall, I really liked

    this book. It was nothing like I expected it to be, full of so many surprises.

    4 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 2, 2011

    12yearoldbooklover

    Oliver goes from tragedy to triumph in this heartwarming book

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2007

    A great book!

    I've read this book, probably, about ten times, and I still enjoy the Victorian setting, classic characters, and the message of hope and redemption in the world of crime and greed.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2011

    best book EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This book is the best book yet! One day I got really really bored so just decided to pick up this book and I read through the first 5 chapters and I was like OMGosh this book should be in the book of world records! I NEVER stopped reading unless I had to.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Oliver Twist or The Pauper Boy's Progress!

    You can still read the rest of my review, but to draw this down to the bottom line..........
    A amazing book by Dickens! Now, to start with some things some might consider "bad" but which did not bother me is this. Note, Dickens is very descriptive. So he explains and describes places, and people, for quite a bit. You will notice this as SOON as you start reading. But once into the middle of the book, will get used to it and actually start to like his styel of writing some chapters of the book you might have to read over as some chapters (I say some which is the two chapters at the end of the book for those two chapters contain alot of information with LOTS of plot twist) Now, that I have named some think "some" may not like. Let me get on to the GREAT things. This book has AMAZING characters, I did not expect less of Charles Dickens. The characters were amazing, and the plot is a VERY good one, as we see Oliver start from a poor abused orphan, than go to London to seek his fortune, he then meets a gang of thieves commanded by an old tricky, evil deceptive, man.
    Oliver tries to choose between the life of crime or a home. At that point new things just keep piling on and on and on, with the plot, until all the things just explode, with an epic plot twist at the end! So with good characters a great storyline, and unforgettable moments what more could you want from this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 24, 2011

    from nothing to something...

    Oliver Twist is a novel about a boy who is born an orphan and grows up in an unknown city in London around the 1820's. Oliver Twist is a character vs. character and character vs. society based novel. Its main conflict is that Oliver grows up surrounded by poverty but still tries to overcome the expectations and find his true identity. He encounters many people such as: Nancy a young, alcoholic, prostitute; who protects Oliver, which leads to her death, Jack "the Dodger" Dawkins who finds Oliver and introduces him to Fagin; the leader of a gang of thieves,who tries to teach Oliver to pickpocket, Monks who turns out to be Oliver's older half brother and tries to distroy Oliver's chances of inheriting his fair share of money from their family and Mr. Brownlow a whealthy man who takes Oliver in and discovers his true parentage. A rising action scene is when Oliver Twist is taken in by the gang, but refuses to participate in one of their crimes of pickpoketing; this causing a bit of an uproar and Monks and the gang of theives try to hunt young Oliver down while he is being taken care for by Mr. Brownlow and his family. Another is when Nancy meets Mr. Brownlow and Mrs. Maylie at London's bridge to tell them of Monk's plans towards Oliver. I enjoyed reading this novel, and it being one of Charles Dickens' first social protests. It's idea of that people were not born with bad in them, it didn't matter where you were born in; including setting and family social rank. That anybody is capable of becoming anybody and are not immediately evil or a criminal because of where they came from. Oliver Twist's setting, plot, and all around idea was very good but it lacked realism, in my opinion. Oliver's character was unreal as well, he was very sensitive, polite, and likable; but seemed to already know what was right from wrong and he spoke almost properly, considering he was raised uneducated and with little humane respect. However, I still recommend this classical novel to others who are into the dreams coming true genre. It is an uplifting and inspirational story of the underdog being able to fulfill theirs dreams.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Refreshing Read! A welcoming relief from all of the identical, drawn out works of current times

    A grand novel, great for anyone who desires a little mental stimulation, rather than the same, over-explained novels that often occur in current day writing (I'm not saying all, but quite a few!!!). Magnificent, and certainly memorable, this novel follows the story of young Oliver Twist, an orphan in the dastardly workhouses whom dared to rise the question "May I have some more?" Throughout this novel, the reader is met with unique and memorable characters, such as the tragic Nancy, the disturbed Mr. Sikes, the humorous (and ironic) telling of Mr. Bumble, the young "Artful Dodger" (forever truthful to his name!) and the devilish, terrifying Fagin.

    Certainly a heartwarming novel, where one finds an irresistible liking towards even the most hated villains, with a story that shall last in one's memory for many years to come!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 19, 2010

    Oliver Twist still resonates

    "Oliver Twist is born in a workhouse, and orphaned almost immediately. The managers of the workhouse abuse him and declare that he will amount to nothing. Eventually, Oliver is apprenticed out and runs away from the situation once the cycle of abuse and extreme want repeat themselves.

    In his journey, Oliver meets the Artful Dodger, a seemingly nice boy who offers his assistance. Oliver is taken to a run-down house occupied by Fagin and his boys. There, Oliver is initiated into the rites of pickpocketing, theft, and petty crime. His first unwilling foray into the new profession is not a success, however, since Oliver is caught by the police and taken to court. The victim of the pickpocketing, Mr. Brownlow, takes pity on him and takes him into his own home to help the boy recover from an illness. Brownlow is strangely drawn to the boy. Oliver's old friends, including the murderous Sikes and the mysterious Monks, try to find the boy and remove him from his new surroundings. Oliver tries desperately to escape from Fagin and his group. During his adventures, he finds that his past is neither so hidden nor so shameful as he has been led to believe."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2001

    Oliver Twist tops all!

    Of all the wonderful books in the world, so far I have not read one that can top this classic! At sixteen years old I have just finished reading this masterpiece for the fifth time at least. It's an all-time-favorite. Though some people may argue that it is boring or childish, it is none of these. The characters are well developed with complex personalitys and the plot intriguing. Such a book is hard to find and ought to be appreciated!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2014

    Dry, barely any excitement.

    Charles Dickens was paid by the word, and I know that as a fact. He takes multiple paragraphs simply to describe why he wouldn't use a certain word to describe something.
    Very boring, very dry, and especially when time-restricted.
    Plus, at the end is a couple VERY violent deaths. The story line is depressing and with lots of blank space filled in with useless descriptions.
    Sure, it's a classic, but it is as dry as dust.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2014

    Lil                                                     Sees rav

    Lil                                                     Sees raven. looks at raven. tackles raven. laughs. :D

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    To Valentine

    YOU OLD HAG

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2013

    Kurai

    Erm...Long black hair, olive skin (not really dark, not really light...y'know.) deep brown eyes...Kinda willowy. *Shrugs.* Nu'n special. Yourself?

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2013

    Hi

    AMAZING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2012

    Read what im writing

    Oliver twist is one of charles dickens greatest books. I am d in middle school and my school drama class is putting on the play. I play olive altho iv never seen the movie or read the book. So i did and i loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    A true classic

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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