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Oliver Twist [Paperback]

Charles Dickens
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: CDN$ 4.75 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Dec 30 2002 0486424537 978-0486424538

Starved and mistreated, empty bowl in hand, the young hero musters the courage to approach his master, saying, "Please, sir, I want some more." Oliver Twist's famous cry of the heart has resounded with readers since the novel's initial appearance in 1837, and the book remains a popular favorite with fans of all ages.
Dickens was no stranger to the pain of hunger and the degradation of poverty. He poured his own youthful experience of Victorian London's unspeakable squalor into this realistic depiction of the link between destitution and crime. Oliver escapes his miserable servitude by running away to London, where he unwillingly but inevitably joins a scabrous gang of thieves. Masterminded by the loathsome Fagin, the underworld crew features some of Dickens' most memorable characters, including the juvenile pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger, the vicious Bill Sikes, and gentle Nancy, an angel of self-sacrifice.
A profound social critic, Dickens introduced genteel readers to the problems of the poor in a way that had rarely been attempted before. This tale of the struggle between hope and cruelty continues to speak to modern audiences.


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From the Back Cover

Starved and mistreated, empty bowl in hand, the young hero musters the courage to approach his master, saying, "Please, sir, I want some more." Oliver Twist's famous cry of the heart has resounded with readers since the novel's initial appearance in 1837, and the book remains a popular favorite with fans of all ages.
Dickens was no stranger to the pain of hunger and the degradation of poverty. He poured his own youthful experience of Victorian London's unspeakable squalor into this realistic depiction of the link between destitution and crime. Oliver escapes his miserable servitude by running away to London, where he unwillingly but inevitably joins a scabrous gang of thieves. Masterminded by the loathsome Fagin, the underworld crew features some of Dickens' most memorable characters, including the juvenile pickpocket known as the Artful Dodger, the vicious Bill Sikes, and gentle Nancy, an angel of self-sacrifice.
A profound social critic, Dickens introduced genteel readers to the problems of the poor in a way that had rarely been attempted before. This tale of the struggle between hope and cruelty continues to speak to modern audiences.


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5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless classic Nov. 23 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is one of Dickens' most accessible tales for the younger audience, though it's still a pretty emotionally wrenching read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  44 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasantly Surprised June 29 2009
By LH422 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've always been intimidated by Dickens, having heard so much about his legendary wordiness and trenchant prose. This was my first attempt to seriously read Dickens, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how readable this book is. I did notice Dickens's wordiness for approximately the first two pages, but after that I was drawn into the story. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that Dickens writes with a witty sarcasm- so much for the humorless Victorians. The story of a desperately poor orphan, Oliver Twist offers a deep and complex plot, and plenty of emotional engagement. It's hard not to feel sympathy for suffering young Oliver who, by his own admission, "hasn't a friend in the world." This novel is a book about morality, and is clearly a work of social criticism. Dickens reserves his criticism not for the wealthy, who might seem the obvious target, but for social strivers. Those attempting to raise their social standing, such as the sycophantic Bumble, and the criminal miser Fagin receive the sharpest pricks of Dickens's pen. The truly wealthy are the kindest characters in the book; they are the ones who rescue Oliver and show him true kindness. Dickens kept my attention throughout this novel, I will definitely be exploring more of his canon.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Twist" will make you shout Nov. 20 2005
By C. Brandt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dickens was a genius, and this work, written when he was in his early 20s, exemplifies that fact. The plot is a bit cliched, and deus ex machinae are everywhere, but, good Lord, the characterizations (and the accompanying names) are superb. The wry insights, the gentle cynicism, the not-so-gentle look at the poorhouses, the indelible imagery, the seamless shifts from comedy to tragedy and back again, all make for an unforgettable book--no matter how many forgettable film adaptations have been made. A joy to read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the Artful Reader Aug. 7 2005
By Floccinaucinihilipilification - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dickens' writing is exacting, descriptive and illuminating. In structure and style, very similar to many of Dickens' other works, particularly Great Expectations - the poor orphan makes it big while encountering interesting and malevolent characters along the way.

Oliver Twist brings us dark yet humorous characters like Sikes, Fagin, the Artful Dodger, etc.

Great reading and an important part of any classic collection.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatness shines through the centuries Nov. 16 2011
By Avid Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What's not to love about Dickens? You've got heroes, villains, comedy, tragedy, social commentary and detailed descriptions of face, dress, and city. You've got the whole world wrapped up in a story that has you rooting for the good guys even after 150-plus years, and even though you know the good guys are too good to be true.

The story of Oliver Twist doesn't need to be retold in this review. The plot twists are ridiculous at times --- though a lot less ridiculous in Dickens' day than they would be in ours. Today, few kids are orphaned at birth, and few are shamed by being bastard children. Today, few people can move from town to town, changing their name and escaping their past. (It can be done, but it's very hard.) Today, it's believed that everyone can be redeemed and everyone can become a master of his own fate. Not so when Dickens was alive. The world really was a place in which many lives were short and brutish.

Dickens conjures up those depths, but what he does so remarkably is to show the life that survived in them and the humanity that each of us has. Humanity comes in many forms: Oliver and his little friend Dick, somehow maintaining sparks of kindness despite their horrid treatment in the parochial orphanage; the pickpocket/prostitute Nancy risking her life to save Oliver; and the evil Fagin and Bill Sykes feeling remorse about the things they've done. Those are the indelible images that stick with me, even more than the soft-hearted humor that Dickens always blends into the mix.

Dickens masterfully opens the curtain on the sordid life to which England's lower classes were consigned, and he is angry about it. He was the first to be able to bring that perspective to a wide audience through a popular medium, and he helped to create the momentum that changed the treatment of the poor and sought more humane ways of dealing with crime and lack of opportunity. The seething in this book is echoed today in protests around the world over inequality in wealth and opportunity --- showing that Dickens is as relevant today as when he put pen to paper.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The master of irony at his best Oct. 23 2009
By Layla Bing - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Oliver Twist is perhaps the most culturally prevalent of Mr. Dickens' novels. Everyone has heard the famous line: "Please sir, can I have some more?" What a lot of people don't realize is that Oliver Twist was actually Dickens' attempt at a social critique of the prevailing prejudices against the poor and downtrodden in Victorian England, and the appalling work and living conditions that they were subjected to as a result of the Poor Law of 1834. In this capacity Dickens was very successful; his novel helped draw attention to the problem and precipitated a wave of compassion toward the poor. However, his success in improving the image of one marginalized group was perhaps marred by the slandering of a second marginalized population: the Jews. Dickens' anti-semitism is very apparent in the character of the Jew Fagin who is repeatedly likened to a demon, and who is characterized by a jumble of derogatory Jewish stereotypes. By contrast, Oliver is hardly characterized at all except to be described as a kind of nebulous blob of pure goodness who is tried by hardship at every turn-- thereby winning our sympathy.

Like many of Dickens' novels, Twist's plot hangs on the convergence of coincidence. Though the seeming acts of fate that drive the story are clearly contrived, it is done in such a self-aware manner that the reader can't help but overlook the ridiculousness of the plot twists. My favorite part of Dickens' story-telling in this novel is the bitingly sarcastic manner in which it is written. The narrative is dry and exceptionally witty, and I frequently found myself laughing out loud at the masterful use of irony that turns what could be rather dark and depressing parts of the novel into dark comedy. The manner of narration makes up for the rather stereotypical good vs evil, villains-get-their-just-deserts plot formulation. I really enjoyed reading Oliver Twist, and I would definitely recommend it for a first time Dickens reader, with the one qualification that it does reflect the prevailing prejudices and racism of the time, and should thus be taken with a large grain of salt.
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