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Overview

Oliver Twist
By Charles Dickens

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780141192499
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Series: Penguin Clothbound Classics Series
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 298,031
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A prolific writer in Victorian England, Charles Dickens wrote most of his works in serial format, publishing chapters on a weekly or monthly basis. His writing improved because of he was able to hear the criticism from the previous installments and mold his writing to be appealing to the public. Poor from birth, Dickens used his elevated status to encourage empathy and philanthropy.

Monica F. Cohen is Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Columbia University and Instructor in the English Department at Barnard College. She is author of Professional Domesticity in the Victorian Novel: Women, Work and Home and numerous articles on topics significant to the nineteenth-century novel and Victorian culture.

Date of Birth:

February 7, 1812

Date of Death:

June 18, 1870

Place of Birth:

Portsmouth, England

Place of Death:

Gad's Hill, Kent, England

Education:

Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Read an Excerpt

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."

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Chronology of Dickens's Life and Work

Historical Context of Oliver Twist

OLIVER TWIST

Notes

Interpretive Notes

Critical Excerpts

Questions for Discussion

Suggestions for the Interested Reader

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for An Atlas of Impossible Longing includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

In this reimagining of Charles Dickens’s classic, Great Expectations, Pip is an orphaned young werewolf living with his ill-tempered sister and her gentle husband, the blacksmith Joe Gargery. One fateful night, visiting his parents’ grave under the full moon, Pip encounters a frightening stranger—another werewolf and a convict no less. Too afraid to do anything other than obey the stranger’s instruction, Pip helps this convict and sets in motion of chain of events that will forever change the course of his life. Pip is sent to reside with Miss Havisham, a vampire who was sired and left on her wedding day by the one she loved. She has adopted Estella and raised her as a vampire slayer, to seek revenge on the supernatural creatures that she blames for her ruin. Pip, in awe of Estella’s beauty, falls instantly in love with her despite the fact that she has been trained to hate all “Scapegraces.” When an anonymous benefactor sends Pip to London to become a gentleman, he believes it is his chance to win Estella’s hand. The question that lies ahead is whether Pip will be able to overcome his wolfish ways and turn his once grave expectations for himself into great ones.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION

1. In Pip’s world, the term “Scapegraces” is used to define “those of a supernatural sort” (p. 11). What do you think this term implies about the way that creatures like werewolves and vampires were viewed in this society?

2. On page 12, Pip wonders, “Was it a crime to merely be different?” While being a werewolf is simply a condition inherited at birth, vampires prey on the living to increase their population, and yet are “considered civilized and welcome to mix in society.” Is one creature more monstrous than the other? Do both werewolves and vampires have the capacity for good and evil?

3. After being invited to Miss Havisham’s and then later learning of his anonymous benefactor, Pip often feels ashamed of his roots, and of Joe’s commonness even more so than his own Scapegrace status. Yet Joe never seems to exhibit any embarrassment over Pip’s wolfishness. What does this say about each of their characters? What influences the focus of Pip’s shame?

4. When Mrs. Joe dies (the first time), Pip finds what he knows to be evidence of Magwitch’s crime, but he still does not accuse him. Why do you think Pip believes that Magwitch is innocent of this crime when the main piece of evidence points directly to him?

5. Throughout most of the story, Estella is cold-hearted and shows no affection for Pip despite his unwavering love for her. Why should he love someone who could possibly end up killing him in her crusade against Scapegraces? What makes him fall in love with her in the first place? Why do you think Pip continues to pursue someone who will never return his feelings?

6. Pip and Herbert have a very special friendship. Do you think this brotherly love grew out of the wolfish need to be part of a pack? Or something more human?

7. While Miss Havisham is herself a vampire, she has trained Estella in the ways of vampire slaying. Pip wonders “if Miss Havisham weren’t really wishing to be staked by Estella one day in raising her to such an art” (p. 235). Do you agree? Do you think Miss Havisham’s eventual outcome either supports or refutes this opinion? Why does Estella never stake her, if indeed her mission is to kill vampires?

8. Pip is horrified when he finds out the Magwitch has been his anonymous benefactor all along. Why do you think this revelation is so abhorrent to Pip, when he seems so willing to not only protect Magwitch and keep him safe, but to also protect his feelings by not revealing his disappointment?

9. On page 284, Pip explains to Miss Havisham that there are certain Scapegraces who “showed more humanity than the humans.” Discuss which of the Scapegraces behave with the utmost humanity, and which of the human characters exhibit what could be categorized as monstrous behavior?

10. How does the discovery of Estella’s parentage change things for Pip? Does it change your opinion of her?

11. Why is it so easy for Joe and Biddy to forgive Pip after he had neglected them for so many years? Should Joe have been angry that Pip spent so much time visiting Magwitch after he was captured, when he never kept up his visits to Joe like he had promised?

12. Though Estella is able to eventually see the goodness in werewolves, she never changes her opinion of vampires. Why do you think she can pardon and accept most Scapegraces and still seek vengeance against vampires?

ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB

1. Grave Expectations is a reimagining of Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations. Have you read Great Expectations before? If so, how did the supernatural version compare to the classic? What remained the same in this new version of the story? What changed? If not, choose Great Expectations for your next book club pick.

2. Grave Expectations is a literary mash-up—where a fictional classic is retold in present day or with mythical substitutions. Examples include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or the movie Clueless, which was essentially Jane Austen’s Emma set in Beverly Hills during the 1990s. Try creating a literary mash-up of your own with your book club. Pick a favorite classic and retell the story as though it took place in the present day or with some supernatural characters. The more imaginative, the better!

3. Legends of werewolves and vampires have been carried down through the centuries. How does their depiction in this work compare with your preconceived notions of such supernatural creatures?

Customer Reviews

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Oliver Twist 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2702 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charles Dickens uses the novel Oliver Twist similarly to his many other novels to portray the life of the poor through the struggle of the main character. Oliver Twist is a bast@rd child who is forced into an orphanage (workhouse) for the poor. He eventually runs off and gets tangled up with a group of other poor children who steal for their leader in crime Fagin. While there, he learns the tricks of the trade and also discovers that it is not the life for him and struggles to get out. Charles Dickens does an excellent job of ridiculing the upper and middle class for their treatment of the poor, while delivering an excellent story about the adventures of Oliver Twist.
readingissexy23 More than 1 year ago
After years of people telling me how great this book was I decided to read it to see what all the fuss was about. It turned out that it lived up to my expectations. This book is well written and a classic story about an orphan and his surrounding characters. There is drama, fear, compasion, and so many more emotions Dickens put into this novel. It's a good read; you won't be disapointed!
bamagv More than 1 year ago
Getting your child to read one of those classic novels can certainly be a challenge. Thanks to Jonathan Keeble and Roy McMillian this task has been revolutionized. The classic story "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens has been retold for younger listeners on audiobook. Created with children ages 8-13 in mind, this audiobook features the original text found in Dicken's classic but the words are simplified and clarified at certain points throughout the story to ensure that the child understands them and can easily follow along with the storyline. This audiobook re-telling of the classic Oliver Twist will keep children's attention and have them engaged in the story through its unique and captivating audio.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is about a young boy named Oliver Twist born in a work house in the mid 1800's. A work house is like todays orphange. This work house was very dirty and their was never enough to eat. Oliver is just a shy boy who can not take the harsh conditions of the work house. Oliver runs to London only to fall in with a croud of a youth pickpocket gang led by the crimnal Mr. Fagin. Oliver befriends some one in the gang, and finds his true identity, and gets his long over due inhairtence. This book is a classic Dickens book filled with action and suspence. I would give it 4 stars.
BookReader75 More than 1 year ago
You can still read the rest of my review, but to draw this down to the bottom line.......... A amazing book by Dickens! Now, to start with some things some might consider "bad" but which did not bother me is this. Note, Dickens is very descriptive. So he explains and describes places, and people, for quite a bit. You will notice this as SOON as you start reading. But once into the middle of the book, will get used to it and actually start to like his styel of writing some chapters of the book you might have to read over as some chapters (I say some which is the two chapters at the end of the book for those two chapters contain alot of information with LOTS of plot twist) Now, that I have named some think "some" may not like. Let me get on to the GREAT things. This book has AMAZING characters, I did not expect less of Charles Dickens. The characters were amazing, and the plot is a VERY good one, as we see Oliver start from a poor abused orphan, than go to London to seek his fortune, he then meets a gang of thieves commanded by an old tricky, evil deceptive, man. Oliver tries to choose between the life of crime or a home. At that point new things just keep piling on and on and on, with the plot, until all the things just explode, with an epic plot twist at the end! So with good characters a great storyline, and unforgettable moments what more could you want from this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read this book, probably, about ten times, and I still enjoy the Victorian setting, classic characters, and the message of hope and redemption in the world of crime and greed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This story is a pretty much unabriged story compared to all the other Oliver Twist books I've read. A great book. Makes sense and does not have the word sense of Charles Dickens. I recommend this book for readers ages 9-23. As soon as you pick up this book you will not want to put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a good book and im jewish and oliver is also so its interesting. If you read this review and you like it, please hit the like button
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They left out Charlotte, Toby, and included pretty much none if the original lines (Do you know who you are? Or what you are?) and changed the plot a little bit. When Nancy went to see Rose, I can tell you that Oliver was NOT there at ALL in the original. Oliver was also never trying to be James Bond to save Nancy. Bill Sikes was never trying to be batman when jumping from roof to roof. Edward Leeford moved to America. Changed a lot. Oliver never met both Bill AND Nancy untill later in the book when they kidnapoed him. And, uh-hum, excuse me, but where was Bet?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is the best book yet! One day I got really really bored so just decided to pick up this book and I read through the first 5 chapters and I was like OMGosh this book should be in the book of world records! I NEVER stopped reading unless I had to.
pwee More than 1 year ago
A grand novel, great for anyone who desires a little mental stimulation, rather than the same, over-explained novels that often occur in current day writing (I'm not saying all, but quite a few!!!). Magnificent, and certainly memorable, this novel follows the story of young Oliver Twist, an orphan in the dastardly workhouses whom dared to rise the question "May I have some more?" Throughout this novel, the reader is met with unique and memorable characters, such as the tragic Nancy, the disturbed Mr. Sikes, the humorous (and ironic) telling of Mr. Bumble, the young "Artful Dodger" (forever truthful to his name!) and the devilish, terrifying Fagin. Certainly a heartwarming novel, where one finds an irresistible liking towards even the most hated villains, with a story that shall last in one's memory for many years to come!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of all the wonderful books in the world, so far I have not read one that can top this classic! At sixteen years old I have just finished reading this masterpiece for the fifth time at least. It's an all-time-favorite. Though some people may argue that it is boring or childish, it is none of these. The characters are well developed with complex personalitys and the plot intriguing. Such a book is hard to find and ought to be appreciated!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Blu walked in {I'm on my computer,my nook broke last night...}
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
malik have any off u seen siren?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awh darn. ;~; *she sniffles.* I'ma go then. Go to Steak and Shake with the idiots I call my friends. :3 'Bai. *she saunters out, humming Falling Away From Me.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Any body up for chat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She giggled more, licking happily.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey there. Do you want to rp ur favorite celebrity or singer or actor? Ten go to celeb res 1&2. Result one is bios and result two is chatroom. You can use the other books as chatrooms too. Here r some guides 1) you must put a bio of ur favorite singer before he/she is taken 2) if your celebrity u want to rp is taken you have to pick someome else. 3) there will be no fighting cusskng or weapons or anything like that. 4) yes there is dating allowdd. You can link up with whoever u want 5) res3 is snackbar res 4 is lounge res 5 is a restaurant and res 6 is the pool. 6. Everyone is welcome. Please come and enjoy. tell ur friends!!!!! &#9786
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does somone named Salem RP here?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yeah. A song you shouldn't be singing. When you stop f<_>ucking everyone that opens their legs to you, then maybe you can sing that, b<_>itch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Reyna, darling, I must leave. It's been a pleasure," she says as she falls asleep.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jack pulled his knees to his chest, gazing blankly at nothing standing before him. He had pocketed his wedding band, and sighed. Freddie played with a toy car at his side, kicking his legs happily. Jack watched his son without expression, and stood, 'if anyone sees Serena..Tell her I say I'm sorry..and that I love her.' He turned, giving Freddie's head a pat and a kiss on the forehead before vanishing. Freddie paused, blinking at his father. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
'I know. That's why I love you. So much.' She nuzzled him softly. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
'I missed you too.' She leaned into his embrace. 'Everynight I wonder if I'd return. Then fears creep in and take a chokehold.'  (If You have an Instagram or even a WattPad, We can communicate there. I'm i_like_goldfiesh on Insta, and AllyStaudt on Watt..) 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She hugged back quietly. 'Today. But I have to be careful about rp'ing.' She sighed into his shoulder.