Literary Mumblings

A few words about the books I’ve read…

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Posted by Amanda on March 27, 2009

Please, sir, I want some more.

Please, sir, I want some more.

My latest goal has been to read a number of the books from the Guardian’s “1000 novels everyone must read”. The list has many great books on it but when I saw that Charles Dickens was there (as he seems to be on every list of great literature) I found that childish distaste rising from memories of beating Great Expectations into a sad little pulp in high school, after which I have never been able to bring myself to read another book by him. Squashing down those feelings, I figured it might be time for me to give the poor man another chance and try reading Oliver Twist; after all, high school was a long time ago and I have (theoretically) matured a bit since then.

As most everyone knows, even if you have never so much a seen a copy of the book, Oliver Twist is about a poor orphan in England, immortalized by the phrase “Please, sir, I want some more.” After this terribly wanton request at the workhouse, Oliver is given as a apprentice to an undertaker who shows him kindnes but he soon finds his way to London, where he is drawn into a den of thieves, led by “the Jew,” also called Fagin.

I am terribly glad I gave Dickens another chance because this was a great book. Even while exposing some of the most horrendous hypocrisy and cruelty, Dickens shows a great, dark sense of humor. He mocks those that he found revolting. Of course, I love that even while showing the dark side of life in London in this time period, Dickens still works in a happy ending for all the good guys. The characters were great and Dickens makes you care, he draws you in to the story. I found myself avoiding the book at times, only because I didn’t want to see another terrible thing happen to the poor orphan Oliver.

All in all, this was a great book and I think I will be much more willing to open another of Dickens’ novels in the nearby future.



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