12 December 2013

Review: Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens was published 175 years ago in 1838 and there's no doubt it's an enduring classic.  Most people know Oliver Twist is an orphan and of course his well-known request for "more".

I don't know why it's taken so long for me to read Oliver Twist, perhaps because I didn't really enjoy Great Expectations.  Having said that, I fell in love with Oliver Twist and am now a true Dickens fan.

Rather than share some of the plot (which most people know one way or another), allow me to share some of my favourite quotes/excerpts.

On considering sending young Oliver to sea on page 20: "the probability being, that the skipper would flog him to death, in a playful mood, someday after dinner, or would knock his brains out with an iron bar, both pastimes being, as is pretty generally known, very favourite and common recreations among gentlemen of that class."

Page 52, regarding Oliver's drowsy state: "There is a drowsy state, between sleeping and waking, when you dream more in five minutes with your eyes half open, and yourself half conscious of everything that is passing around you, than you would in five nights with your eyes fast closed, and your senses wrapped in perfect unconsciousness.  At such times, a mortal knows just enough of what his mind is doing, to form some glimmering conception of its might powers, its bounding from earth and spurning time and space, when freed from the restraint of its corporeal associate."

Page 176, this had me laughing for ages: "Unembellished by any violence of gesticulation, this might have seemed no very high compliment to the lady's charms; but, as Mr Bumble accompanied the threat with many warlike gestures, she was much touched with this proof of his devotion, and protested, with great admiration, that he was indeed a dove."

I could go on, but I hope that's enough to influence you to give Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens a try if you haven't before. The language was such a delight, I couldn't do it justice by reading it at my normal pace, and really had to slow right down to savour his words and his writing.

I savoured being amongst the pages and recommend Oliver Twist to all who appreciate the English language.

My rating = *****

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