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Oliver Twist
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Oliver Twist > Reading Schedule, and Preliminary Observations

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Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
Dear Curiosities,

We are soon going to start reading Dickens's second novel, Oliver Twist, which he started serializing in February 1837, when he was still working on Pickwick Papers. In fact, the last Pickwick numbers appeared in October 1837, which means that for most of the year Dickens was writing on two novels simultaneously. I know some people who even have trouble reading two novels simultaneously.

This is our reading schedule:

31/05 – 06/06 OT, 1-4
07/06 – 13/06 OT, 5-8
14/06/ - 20/06 OT, 9-13
21/06 – 27/06 OT, 14-17
28/06 – 04/07 OT, 18-22
05/07 – 11/07 OT, 23-27
12/07 – 18/07 OT, 28-32
19/07 – 25/07 OT, 33-37
26/07 – 01/08 OT, 38-41
02/08 – 08/08 OT, 42-46
09/08 – 15/08 OT, 47-50
16/08 - 22/08 OT, 51-53

Please feel free to use this thread for making any observations or remarks you'd like to make before we are well into the novel!


message 2: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 02, 2018 02:14PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Will there be any extras, such as miscellaneous papers in between? I really enjoy those readings ...

Do feel free to move this to Mr. Jaggers's Office if you like.


Mary Lou | 2519 comments It's been a loooong time since I've read OT. At that time it was my least favorite Dickens because I found Bill Sikes unsettling, he was so evil. Now that I've got lots of other Dickens villains under my hat, it will be interesting to see if I still find him so disturbing. Rigaud could probably give him a run for his money! I look forward to it!


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
One of the evillest evil-doers was, for me, Mr. Murdstone. I vividly remember the scene in which he gives David a very hard thrashing. Maybe he eclipses Bill for me because as far as I know, we never see Bill exercise violence on the child hero to that degree.

Calls for a poll, doesn't it? Who is the most evil character in Dickens ...


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "Will there be any extras, such as miscellaneous papers in between? I really enjoy those readings ...

Do feel free to move this to Mr. Jaggers's Office if you like."


Jean,

I have posted a reading schedule for the Sketches, which will fill the time between PP and OT (two weeks, actually) in the Sketches thread. I am sorry for not having made a remark to that effect here, as I now realize this omission can be misleading.


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Ah, now I understand! Thanks Tristram. I should have looked more carefully, but assumed (from memory) that these dates were so close that they just followed straight on.


message 7: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 03, 2018 01:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Mr. Murdstone v. Bill Sikes - I agree with Tristram that Murdstone was more evil.

For Murdstone the cruelty was deliberate. He deluded himself into thinking that this was good for a child, yet he used it for his own ends, not just as the physical correction which was accepted by his society in those times. (view spoiler). It was quite conscious, whereas Sikes was overcome by his passions.

There was a genuine relationship and fondness between Bill Sikes and (view spoiler)I've often thought that I would have liked more of Sikes's back story, and if Dickens had written this book at a later stage of his career, when he was a little more skilled, perhaps he would have given it to us.

In a similar way - I felt very much for Bradley Headstone in Our Mutual Friend. There were what we now know to be physiological/medical reasons for his passions, whereas Eugene Rayburn's flippant cruelty to those around him, (view spoiler) was deliberate, and like Murdstone's, always done for selfish reasons.

Perhaps Rayburn would not win hands down in a poll of the most evil characters in Dickens (great idea by the way!) he's definitely on the radar!

I try to come at this as a moral problem, irrespective of having 21st century eyes rather than 19th, though it is tricky!


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
Jean,

Maybe we are both of us slightly influenced by the TV show "Dickensian", where the Bill-Nancy story was done very feelingly. But then it could not have been done that way unless the novel itself lent itself to such an interpretation.

I am also very pleased that I am not alone in sympathizing with Bradley Headstone to a certain extent and in seeing Eugene in a very critical light. (view spoiler)


message 9: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 05, 2018 10:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Tristram,

I think your second paragraph is a definite possibliity, and wonder if the ending for (view spoiler) was at least partly in response to popular demand.

About "Dickensian", well perhaps, although I think our discussions here influenced me just as much, probably more, and our latest reading made me reinterpret my earlier assumptions.


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
You mean that Dickens's readership was generally more in favour of Eugene, Jean? To me, he looks like a proto-Wildean character, all this ennui and dandyism, and I must confess that I never particularly enjoyed Wilde: After four or five pages of self-enamoured witticism by the old Lord in Dorian Gray, I really felt like having my mouth full of syrup and struggled through the book more because I knew it to be such a classic than from genuine interest.


message 11: by Bionic Jean (last edited May 06, 2018 05:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) More that (view spoiler)

I do wonder what was in store for them both however. And I agree he seems straight out of Wilde - think we may have discussed this at the time.


message 12: by John (last edited May 08, 2018 03:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments I'm glad to be on the track now of his early work, ie., Pickwick, some Boz and on to Oliver Twist.

I think reading along the lines of Dickens' own chronology of work is probably better, at least for me. I found starting out with OMF to be a bit of a challenge.

I haven't exactly divined all the reasons for that, but if, for say, someone were to start their first Dickens with something like Bleak House or OMF, there is much to be reckoned with.


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I agree completely John; probably lots of us feel that way too :) As I remember, that's one of the reasons behind this group.


Lagullande | 15 comments Tristram wrote: "Dear Curiosities,

We are soon going to start reading Dickens's second novel, Oliver Twist, which he started serializing in February 1837, when he was still working on Pickwick Papers. In fact, the..."


My Penguin copies ( Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens ) have the chapters arranged differently:
Book the First Chapters 1 - 22,
Book the Second Chapters 1 - 14, and
Book the Third Chapters 1 - 15.

These only add up to 51 chapters in total, compared to 53 in Tristram's Reading Schedule above.

My copies have 10 pages of text on the various editions and revisions but the gist of it seems to be:

- These Penguin editions use the original periodical version of OT in Bentley's Miscellany, which ran from Feb 1837 - Apr 1839 in 24 instalments.

- The division of chapters between the 3 Books (22, 14 and 15 chapters) is lost in subsequent editions.

- In the 1838 edition, chapters were numbered 1 - 51, with no separate Books.

- In the 1846 edition, the divisions are different and there are 53 chapters.

So I'm guessing that Tristram's schedule is based on the 1846 edition.


message 15: by John (last edited May 12, 2018 05:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments I bought today for my Nook an annotated version of Oliver Twist. The publisher is Barnes & Noble under their Classics Series and cost 99 cents.

Interesting how one purchases today. I could have purchased OT in an annotated and illustrated version. Just annotated was a 2 mb file on my Nook. With illustrations, an 8 mb file.

I decided to save some space and went with the 2 mb.


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
I wonder whether one actually really ever uses the complete capacity of an e-reader: If have hundreds of books on mine, and still more than a third of memory left.


message 17: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim | 6381 comments Mod
Lagullande wrote: "My Penguin copies have the chapters arranged differently:
Book the First Chapters 1 - 22,
Book the Second Chapters 1 - 14, and
Book the Third Chapters 1 - 15.


Thanks for pointing that out Lagullande, I don't know which edition I have, (it's in the bedroom and I currently am in the family room with a dog asleep on my lap), but the illustrations get a bit confusing when we are using different editions which just happened in Pickwick, I end up putting them, or almost putting them in the wrong places.


message 18: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments I don't know if Goodreads is now a dating site, but below is what popped up on my Oliver Twist page when I added it to my shelf. Dickens and Dating? ;)

Hello
Am Miss Anna Scott i will like to connect with you for a healthy relationship,contact me via email( sgtannascott@gmail.com) for more and to share pictures.in box me now


Bionic Jean (bionicjean) LOL John! I tend to get friendly Christian gentlemen expressing their honesty, wholesomeness and sincerity ... I guess it's sad really.


message 20: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments Jean, with the upcoming Holiday weekend usually a quiet time for me, it was nice to get a chuckle.

I got the e mail this morning: Anna on Goodreads has a message for you, lol.


message 21: by John (new) - rated it 4 stars

John (jdourg) | 1120 comments An interesting comment from Jane Smiley's biography of Dickens.

Given there was an overlap of the final chapters of Pickwick and the beginning chapters of Oliver Twist, evidence exists that Dickens would write the chapters of OT first and then get to PP second.

Dark first before light? Perhaps.


Tristram Shandy | 4853 comments Mod
John wrote: "I don't know if Goodreads is now a dating site, but below is what popped up on my Oliver Twist page when I added it to my shelf. Dickens and Dating? ;)

Hello
Am Miss Anna Scott i will like to conn..."


I sometimes do get these messages, too, but not very often. I also get friend requests from profiles with hardly any books and hardly any biographical information. Those seem fishy to me, and that's why I now added a question for anyone sending me a friend request.


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