Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens | Book Review1:03 PM
The irony of this review relies on the fact that I got pickpocketed by a 10 year old-ish boy at 10 a.m. while going to my internship and carrying this book around for some commuting reading time.
Oliver Twist is a classic story told and retold through theatre, movies and music. Written by Dickens and initially published as a monthly installment, the book became so popular that several theater adaptations were performed before it ever finished being published. Later on, multiple movie versions of the story came to life, not to mention the celebrated Broadway musical.
Despite the huge popularity of Dickens' second novel, I had never watched any movies, gone to any theater presentations or ever picked up the book. So, one day, probably years ago now, I crossed paths with this used copy of the classic at a thrift shop and decided to purchase it for the exorbitant amount of 5 dollars. Bargain. Still, it remained rotting on my TBR shelf until I was packing for my European adventure last January and decided this read was well overdue.
Oliver Twist, as I am certain you already know, tells the story of little Oliver, an orphan boy living quite the miserable life. When, eventually, Oliver decides to escape his apprenticeship and runs away to London, he is unknowingly recruited by a professional group of pickpocketers lead by the awful Fagin. Soon enough, the poor boy is thrown in various dreadful and dangerous situations, which eventually leads to his background being questioned.
Dickens explores quite a numerous amount of important subjects in this book, such as how your surroundings influence who you become, the idea of mercy and redemption, social class and poverty. The representation of London's 1830's society is extremely realistic and detailed, truly taking you to that scenery. And his trip into portraying greed and skepticism and the narrator's use of irony are absolutely flawless, making this a highly interesting story.
Personally, however, this was a bit of a tiresome read. Although I am a fluent English speaker, it is still not my first language, making this book pretty difficult to get through. I'd only recommend this book to advanced english readers. Additionally, at parts, I found Dickens writing overly descriptive and slow, which meant it took me a while to get into it. Although I started reading this book in January, I abandoned it and only picked it up again in August/September.
Also, as a book of his time would predictably do, Dickens fails in the racism and feminism aspects. Consistently calling Fagin "the Jew" in order to demonstrate his horribleness, clearly associating judaism and criminality. Further on, the few women portrayed in Oliver Twist have very flat personalities and fit perfectly into woman's stereotypical parts in society and family, always depending on the men in their lives to move along with everything (with the exception, maybe, of Mrs. Bumble).
All in all, I enjoyed the read and recommend everyone give it a try too. The subjects explored are really interesting and the irony of the narrator adds to the enjoyment. Rooting for Oliver comes as the most natural of emotions and you soon find out that every moment is tied together, somehow.