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Langley, BC, Canada
I love to read. I love books. I like to talk about books and recommend them. I read everything including cereal boxes and junk mail! I heard once that if you're not reading at least 3 books at a time you're not reading enough! This blog will keep track of the books I've read and whether or not I liked them. It will be a little bit of everything from Christian fiction to Science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to participate by suggesting books to review and giving your comments. Occasionally I am given free books by Publishers in exchange for a review. I am not told how to review them or compensated in any way for the review.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Published in 1838 Oliver Twist was Dickens second novel. In the Preface he says that he wrote it because he thought the criminal lifestyle was being glorified and he wanted to show what it was really like. He didn’t think any of the characterizations were over the top but insisted they were true to life

I’m sure you’re familiar with the story. Oliver starts life in an orphanage. He earns the wrath of the people in charge by requesting more food. Because of this they decide to make some use of him and offer 5 pounds to anyone who will take him off their hands. He eventually becomes an assistant to an undertaker. After much abuse and taking an instant dislike to the work he runs away, falls in with a group of thieves and thugs, runs away again, they get him back etc. He does eventually meet some kind and generous folks who look after him and help to solve the mystery of his birth.

That summary of course does no justice to the book at all. Dickens was well known for his ability to create memorable characters and this book is populated with many memorable people. The good are very good and the bad characters are very bad. In the end of course, good triumphs and evil is punished. I thought some of the scenes where Oliver is overcome with his feelings were a bit extreme but apparently Dickens himself was a very emotional person and felt things very deeply so I think he musts have put some of himself into Oliver’s character. The dialogue is long and lazy. In modern day novels the dialogue is often short and snappy probably a testament to our short attention span. Dickens gives his characters long speeches and the descriptions of the surroundings are often long and poetic. But I never found myself bored. In fact the last few chapters were hard to put down.

I was impressed with the satire in the book. Dickens had already developed a very particular way of viewing the world and often presented these views under the guise of satire. There is also a very strong presence of God in the novel. Oliver is often seen pleading to God for help and protection and the themes of redemption and forgiveness are very strong. Dickens clearly felt that morality was based in a firm of belief in God; however, he had no use for people who professed piety but were only looking out for themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. Nicholas Nickleby is next.

1 comment:

  1. I love how your summary was a true Dickens Lesson. Very interesting to look through the book so to speak, and see the author and beyond him, see the society in which he lived. What a wonderful idea!
    Now I still think cooking something mentioned in each book could be a fun addition. Gruel would be easy.....