Oliver Twist, Or, the Parish Boy's Progress
Oliver Twist, Or, the Parish Boy's Progress

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Series: Signet Classics   

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Annotation: Tale of an orphan who escapes to London where he is captured by thieves and finally escapes.
Genre: Classics
Catalog Number: #221426
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
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Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Teaching Materials Receive a FREE Teacher's Guide for this title with a purchase of 20 or more copies of this book. You do not need to add a copy of the Teacher's Guide to your list, it will be automatically included with your order after the minimum number of copies is ordered.
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition Date: 2005
Pages: xiii, 496 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-451-52971-5 Perma-Bound: 0-8479-8112-6
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-451-52971-8 Perma-Bound: 978-0-8479-8112-0
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2004026593
Dimensions: 18 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
ALA Booklist
Let's face it, there are dreary passages in Dickens and convoluted sentences that are impenetrable for young readers and that put them off a great story. This retelling works well: it gets rid of a lot of the padding while keeping the narrative tension of the original. Oliver's stark request, Please, sir, I want some more, will thrill kids today as it always has, and the story of the street boy on the run, who lives with outlaws and then finds a safe home, is an archetypal adventure. The problem here is the illustrations. Dickens' novel is scary. Cruickshank's original pictures were true to the terror as well as the comic absurdity of the story, but Birmingham's large, soft pastel pictures are sunny and sweet and angelic, with no hint of darkness and grime. Yes, Dickens' story does end in sentimental togetherness, but the terror is always there. Fagin's crowd was never this cute. (Reviewed Sept. 1, 1996)
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 494-496).
Word Count: 155,960
Reading Level: 11.0
Interest Level: 9+
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 11.3 / points: 33.0 / quiz: 7116 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:9.0 / points:40.0 / quiz:Q08598
Lexile: 1060L
Chapter I

Treats of the place where Oliver Twist was Born; and of the Circumstances attending his Birth.

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.

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.

Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befal a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,-a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer; and a parish surgeon who did such matters by contract; Oliver and Nature fought out the point between them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter.

As Oliver gave this first proof of the free and proper action of his lungs, the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over the iron bedstead, rustled; the pale face of a young woman was raised feebly from the pillow; and a faint voice imperfectly articulated the words, "Let me see the child, and die."

The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire: giving the palms of his hands, a warm and a rub alternately. As the young woman spoke, he rose, and advancing to the bed's head, said, with more kindness than might have been expected of him:

"Oh, you must not talk about dying yet."

"Lor bless her dear heart, no!" interposed the nurse, hastily depositing in her pocket a green glass bottle, the contents of which she had been tasting in a corner with evident satisfaction. "Lor bless her dear heart, when she has lived as long as I have, sir, and had thirteen children of her own, and all on 'em dead except two, and them in the wurkus with me, she'll know better than to take on in that way, bless her dear heart! Think what it is to be a mother, there's a dear young lamb, do."

Apparently this consolatory perspective of a mother's prospects, failed in producing its due effect. The patient shook her head, and stretched out her hand towards the child.

The surgeon deposited it in her arms. She imprinted her cold white lips passionately on its forehead; passed her hands over her face; gazed wildly round; shuddered; fell back-and died. They chafed her breast, hands, and temples; but the blood had stopped for ever. They talked of hope and comfort. They had been strangers too long.

"It's all over, Mrs. Thingummy!" said the surgeon at last.

"Ah, poor dear, so it is!" said the nurse, picking up the cork of the green bottle which had fallen out on the pillow as she stooped to take up the child. "Poor dear!"

"You needn't mind sending up to me, if the child cries, nurse," said the surgeon, putting on his gloves with great deliberation. "It's very likely it will be troublesome. Give it a little gruel7 if it is." He put on his hat, and, pausing by the bed-side on his way to the door, added "She was a good-looking girl, too; where did she come from?"

"She was brought here last night," replied the old woman, "by the overseer's order. She was found lying in the street. She had walked some distance, for her shoes were worn to pieces; but where she came from, or where she was going to, nobody knows."

Excerpted from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

One of the great novelist’s most popular works, Oliver Twist is also the purest distillation of Dickens’s genius.

This tale of the orphan who is reared in a workhouse and runs away to London is a novel of social protest, a morality tale, and a detective story. Oliver Twist presents some of the most sinister characters in Dickens: the master thief, Fagin; the leering Artful Dodger; the murderer, Bill Sikes…along with some of his most sentimental and comical characters. Only Dickens can give us nightmare and daydream together.

According to George Orwell, “in Oliver Twist…Dickens attacked English institutions with a ferocity that has never since been approached. Yet he managed to do it without making himself hated, and, more than this, the very people he attacked have welcomed him so completely that he has become a national institution himself.”

With an Introduction by Frederick Busch
and an Afterword by Edward Le Comte


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