0459 | Oliver Twist | Charles Dickens

0459 | Oliver Twist | Charles Dickens post image

Context: The day I finished this I climbed Roseberry Topping very early on a summer’s morning for a stunning view of north Yorkshire.

Yet another Dickens down. The 1001 list is cram full of them. Twist is  bit like Pride & Prejudice; a lot of us know the storyline but have never actually read the novel. Well, now I have. So there.

I was quite surprised at how different the novel was from what I remember having seen it in various film and theatre versions. There’s a lot more focus on Oliver himself and less on his peers (e.g. the Artful Dodger) than I thought there would be. And he spends far less time in the hands of criminals than I expected too. But these issues could just be caused by my faulty memory of what I’ve seen.

The storyline is pretty fast-paced, making it, unlike other Dickens on the list you might pick up, a pretty quick read. But it’s not as gripping as some others because this, being Dickens’ second novel, doesn’t have characters that are as fleshed out and intriguing as later efforts by the genius.

It’s the first time that he gets his teeth into the social and class issues that would be a major theme of his work and you can see the genesis of later characters such as the also orphaned Pip from Great Expectations. The plot however, is a little contrived with a few too many coincidences for my comfort.

On the whole, if you’ve read works such as that which are far longer and far more detailed, Twist will probably disappoint. It’s great characters probably owe more to later visual depictions of them in film and on stage than from the novel itself. This is a very good novel mostly due to the foundation it laid for greater works, but it’s not as good as one might perhaps expect it to be.

OPENING LINE

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.

CLOSING LINE

This might reveal the ending. If you want to see the quote, click show

PROGRESS oliverp
RATING oliverr
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style

Read more about how I come up with my ratings

 

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