Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)

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9780140430172: Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)

This fiercely comic tale stands in marked contrast to its genial predecessor, "The Pickwick Papers." Set against London's seedy back street slums, "Oliver Twist" is the saga of a workhouse orphan captured and thrust into a thieves' den, where some of Dickens's most depraved villains preside: the incorrigible Artful Dodger, the murderous bully Sikes, and the terrible Fagin, that treacherous ringleader whose grinning knavery threatens to send them all to the "ghostly gallows." Yet at the heart of this drama is the orphan Oliver, whose unsullied goodness leads him at last to salvation. In 1838 the publication of "Oliver Twist" firmly established the literary eminence of young Dickens. It was, according to Edgar Johnson, "a clarion peal announcing to the world that in Charles Dickens the rejected and forgotten and misused of the world had a champion."

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From the Back Cover:

Charles Dickens’s famous second novel recounts the story of a boy born in the workhouse and raised in an infant farm as he tries to make his way in the world. Intended to raise feeling against the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 (which had emphasized the workhouse as an appropriate means of dealing with the problem of poverty), Oliver Twist also provides a sweeping portrait of London life in the 1830s—including the life of the criminal elements in society. Oliver Twist was first published in serialised form (with illustrations by George Cruikshank) in Bentley's Miscellany between February 1837 and April 1839. It was issued with some corrections and revisions in ten numbers in 1846 by Bradbury and Evans (which then also issued the same text in a single volume). Each of these ten numbers, including the Cruikshank illustrations and the advertisements, is included in this facsimile reprint of the 1846 edition. This is one of a series from Broadview Press of facsimile reprint editions—editions that provide readers with a direct sense of these works as the Victorians themselves experienced them.

About the Author:

Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors’ prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and “slave” factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years’ formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney’s clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.


Philip Horne has spent a decade looking at the thousands of James's letters in archives in the United States and Europe. A Reader in English Literature at University College, London, he is the author of Henry James and Revision and the editor of the Penguin Classics edition of James's The Tragic Muse.

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Charles Dickens, Peter Fairclough (Editor), Angus Wilson (Introduction)
Published by Penguin Classics (1966)
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