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Oliver Twist > Oliver Twist Chapters 28-32

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3442 comments Mod
Chapter 28


Hello, Fellow Curiosities

My wife and I are heading off for the weekend to a place that has spotty service. I’m posting this week’s chapters early and look forward to joining the discussion with you when we return next week.


Take a deep breath. We are about to continue at a high intensity.

Sikes is a rather nasty piece of business and the opening paragraphs of this chapter link him with animals. From his phrases “Wolves tear your throats” to “you’d howl the hoarser for it” to “stop, you white-livered hound” we see a man who has no redeeming qualities. Sikes abandons Oliver and runs away with Toby. Their pursuers are less enthusiastic than their dogs to chase the robbers and so the servants decide to return to the house. A Mr Giles, the butler and steward of the house, seems to be the man who is the leader of the other men. They all admit that their hearts were not fully invested in really confronting such brazen men as Sikes. Meanwhile, Oliver lies wounded all night long, abandoned by Sikes and not found by Giles. In the morning the wounded Oliver awakens and slowly goes in search of a place to help him, only to end up at the same place he tried to rob the previous evening.


Thoughts

It seems that Dickens intends to develop the character of Sikes into a prominent character in the novel. In what ways would such a character be of value in the novel?

Oliver’s life to date has been framed by his being abandoned or used for the advantage of others. When kindness is shown, it is short-lived. Do you find these polarized states of Oliver’s life to be at all believable?


We learn about the circumstances of the intended burglary from the point of view of Mr Giles. It is dramatic, exciting and no doubt meant to appeal to the other servants of the house. As the tale unfolds a knock comes to the door which upsets the staff. In a Dickensian coincidence it is Oliver at the door this time - rather than a tiny window - and he is identified as one of last night’s burglars. Dickens enjoys a bit of irony and at this point in the novel and comments that the household tried to restore Oliver “lest he should die before he could be hanged.” Trust Dickens to find a spot of humour in the situation. Giles explains to a young lady of the house the situation and once again Oliver finds kindness, for rather than being held as a thief, the young lady of the house directs that he should be carried to Mr Giles’s room and that a doctor should be summoned. Giles is further directed to treat Oliver kindly. The old servant does so. As for Oliver, he must be exhausted. Will this household turn out to be as kind as Brownlow’s?


Thoughts

I found this an interesting turn of events. The very house that Oliver was forced by Sikes to help rob becomes the same place that he will be cared for. Dickens has made us aware that this young lady is a kind person, both by her words and by the way Giles shows his pride in her actions. This is the second time Oliver has found a home to take him in and treat him with love rather than neglect. What design might Dickens be creating with the homes that appear to offer him refuge and the hovels of Fagin and Sikes?


message 2: by Peter (last edited Jul 13, 2018 06:08AM) (new)

Peter | 3442 comments Mod
Chapter 29 and 30

This chapter takes us into the home that Oliver recently attempted to rob. We find it a very pleasant place, perhaps a bit old fashioned, but very inviting. At the breakfast table sit two women. One is older, but who maintains perfect posture. Her name is Mrs Maylie. Her eyes rest on the younger lady who is described as:

“in the lovely bloom and springtime of womanhood; at that age, when, if ever angels be for God’s good purposes enthroned in mortal forms, they may be, without impiety, supposed to abide in such as hers.”

This young lady is “not past seventeen.” Her name is Rose. To this group comes Mr Losberne a doctor and friend of the family. In the presence of the doctor the ladies agree to look upon the criminal who is resting in one of their beds.

Thoughts

This is a rather short chapter, but I think it serves a very important purpose. While we do not see Oliver in this chapter his presence is certainly felt. Giles, for his part, is perhaps a touch embarrassed that he shot a mere child. As for Mrs Maylie and Rose, we learn that their kindness to an injured person outweighs the fact that he is a thief. Most importantly, I think, is the fact that Dickens has introduced a group of women who have compassion for Oliver. On the one hand, we know that Oliver has in some ways made a positive impact on Nancy. Now we see how Oliver has gained the sympathy of Rose and Mrs Maylie. Why has Dickens established the fact that Oliver has engaged and touched the sympathies of women of such different backgrounds?


Thoughts


Kindness is a trait that seems to elude Oliver for long spans of time. Do you think Oliver has finally found a safe place to be?

Do you think there is any significance in the fact that the kindly Rose Maylie is approximately the same age as Nancy? Why might Dickens have created these two young women and made them similar in age?


CHAPTER 30

Mrs Maylie and Rose are shocked to find that Oliver is just “a mere child” rather than a “black-visaged ruffian.” As Rose sits beside Oliver at his bedside she cries and “her tears fell upon his forehead.” Just as Nancy exhibited kindness to Oliver immediately after he thought about angels, here we have Rose shedding tears on Oliver’s forehead. Dare I suggest that Dickens is working here to suggest that both women function as agents of kindness and care. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that Rose’s tears may well be emblematic of a christening. Socially and morally completely different, Dickens invests both women with unique and memorable qualities.

Mrs Maylie and Rose are shocked that Oliver, the “delicate boy,” has been “the voluntary associate of the worst outcasts of society.” Rose begs her aunt to have pity on Oliver. Mrs Maylie assures Rose that compassion will be her guide. Oliver recounts his past to them and the ladies accept his words and his story. We are told that Oliver “felt calm and happy, and could have died without a murmur.” Oliver knows he is safe in this home. The doctor, for his part, goes to visit Giles, Brittles, and the other servants. He demands Giles and Brittles make a definite identification of Oliver as the thief or admit that Oliver may not be the robber. Just as Giles and Brittle are set to answer the Bow Street officers arrive. And at this point the chapter ends. A wonderful cliffhanger and one, I am sure, would leave the audience wanting, like Oliver, “more.”

Thoughts

Is anyone seeing or recognizing elements of any fairy tale in these last chapters?


message 3: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3442 comments Mod
Chapter 31- 32

The Bow Street men, Blathers and Duff, enter with an element of flair, and quickly take control of the situation. They determine that the robbery was not done by a yokel and then demand to know about the boy. They also want to inspect the premises and examine the servants. These steps of order and proficiency contrast with the speculative adventures of Giles and Brittle. The doctor realizes that the story that Oliver told them is not too helpful or convincing. Perhaps the local constable could have been convinced, but surely the Bow Street Runners are another more efficient type of police. The doctor cautions Rose that the police “never see, whether for good or bad, more than one side of the question; and that is, always, the one which first presents itself to them.” The doctor decides to put up a spirited defence of Oliver to weaken the Runners’ opinion in the matter.


Thoughts

Why might Dickens contrast the formality of Blathers and Duff with the more informal, and dare we say fanciful account of Giles and Brittle.

It appears that the combined forces of the Maylie’s and the doctor have their work cut out for them as they attempt to deflect, and hopefully convince the Bow Street men that Oliver is innocent. In what ways so you see this event as a key part of the novel?

What occurs next is the Bow Street Runners Sir down to enjoy a wee drink and embark on a lengthy discussion of crime with the household. This part of the chapter had a touch of Pickwick in it I felt. Now it seems to me that Dickens was doing little more than entertaining his reading audience with interesting crime anecdotes in these paragraphs. I cannot figure out any other reason for their discussion unless it was to allow the good doctor to set up his patient for their viewing and interrogation. Under questioning poor Giles admits that perhaps it was not Oliver he saw and shot. Since Blathers calls Giles “Stupid-head” things are looking up for Oliver.

The chapter ends with the reader being told that Oliver “prospered under the united care of Mrs. Maylie, Rose and the kind-hearted Mr. Losberne”. Apparently, Oliver “called down upon them, sunk into their souls, diffusing peace and happiness.”


Thoughts

In what ways do you think this chapter was integral to the plot of the novel?

Much of the novel is still to come. Why don’t you channel your inner Dickens for us and project how the plot might unfold in the next weeks?


Chapter 32



We read that “Oliver’s airings were neither slight nor few.” Once again Oliver has bounced back from a debilitating experience and found new supportive friends. Rose tells Oliver that she and her aunt will take care of him and plan to take him into the country. Oliver, for his part, wants to thank them in any way possible and perform any task necessary from watering their flowers to watching their birds. Naturally, this phrase made me smile and I’m hoping Kim will post an illustration of Oliver with some birds. I wonder if such an illustration exists? Oliver is also not without gratitude for “the kind gentleman, and the dear old nurse” who previously attended to him. In terms of future plot advancement Rose tells Oliver that Mr Losberne will take Oliver to London to meet with Mr Brownlow who saved him from jail in London. Interesting. Here we have a link between the good people of the country planning to meet with the good people from the city. This may or may not mean anything in terms of the plot, but I am always on the lookout for trends, patterns, or future plot possibilities.


Thoughts

What motives do you think might underlie Losberne’s plan to attempt this kind act?

It appears that Dickens plans to create two central and opposing forces in the novel. On the one hand we have the Maylie’s and Mr Brownlow who represent kindness, compassion and goodness. Opposed to these good people we have Fagin and Sikes who represent greed, immorality and egocentricity. If we break these pairings down in a different manner we have Rose who is the representation of ideal virtue and Nancy who is part of the underworld. While Nancy cannot be seen as virtuous, she does have compassion for Oliver, albeit in a bent form. Still, Dickens has portrayed both women as having some angelic qualities.

Thoughts

How would you account for the pairings I have suggested? To what extent are the characters within these pairings believable? Can you think of other pairings, opposites or other connections in the characters to this point in the novel?


On a carriage trip with Mr Losberne Oliver thinks he sees the house that the thieves took him to prior to the attempted break into the Maylie home. The doctor kicks the door and it is answered by “a little ugly hump-backed man.” Upon entering the tenement Mr Losberne cannot find anything that matches Oliver’s previous description of its interior. Before the carriage leaves the premises the humpbacked man gets a good look at Oliver. When Dr Losberne and Oliver arrive in London it turns out that the Brownlow house is empty and up for let. They have missed Mr Brownlow by six weeks. Once again, there is no proof to back up Oliver’s account of his past. The doctor decides he has been disappointed enough and does not go to find the book-stall keeper. Such disappointments greatly distress Oliver but it does not change the behaviour or the opinion of his benefactors.

The remainder of the chapter is one of pastoral splendour with Oliver roaming the fields, meditating in the churchyard, finding flowers for Mrs Maylie and Rose and attending the church where he saw the poor people who were “so neat and clean, and knelt so reverently in prayer. This world contrasts so remarkably with the treatment of the poor who were forced to live in the workhouses of Oliver’s past. I must note, of course, that Oliver sought out fresh groundsel for Rose’s birds. The birds are important because we read that “Oliver had been studying the subject [of birds] under the able tuition of the village clerk, who would decorate the cages, in the most approved taste.” Ah, Dickens and birds. It makes my heart glad. Indeed, it makes my heart take flight.

In any case, Oliver spends the next three months in a world of Wordsworthian happiness.


Thoughts


It seems to me that Dickens writes this chapter with great ease and style. I am always impressed how effectively Dickens creates a stylistic union between people and nature. What sentences or passages did you find most effective in this chapter?


message 4: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments I checked my dates, and it's no coincidence that Rose makes her first angelic appearance at about the same time as Mary Hogarth's death.

Both Rose and Nancy are, to some extent, motherly figures to Oliver. (I would contend that Mrs. Maylie and Mrs. Bedwin seem more like grandmothers.) This makes me wonder about Dickens and his relationship with his own mother. I know he resented her for, if I remember correctly, making him continue to work rather than letting him attend school once they were out of debtor's prison. Perhaps Rose and Nancy are an idealized version of what he'd wished for in his own mother -- i.e. putting his needs first. ?? I don't really know, just thinking out loud.


message 5: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Is anyone else getting a little bored with Oliver's goodness and innocence? Is that sacrilege to say such a thing? Please, Mr. Dickens, just once let us see him sulk, whine, or have a temper tantrum! Even Jesus let his anger get the better of him from time to time!


message 6: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Peter wrote: "What motives do you think might underlie Losberne’s plan to attempt this kind act?..."

Well, first, Losberne is just a Nice Guy. If we couldn't figure it out for ourselves, Dickens makes a point of telling us on two different occasions what a stand-up guy the doctor is.

But Losberne's no fool. I think his trip to London with Oliver is also an attempt to get some more information on the lad. While his inclination is to believe Oliver, he also seems to feel some responsibility for Mrs. Maylie and Rose, and I'm sure he doesn't want any harm to come to them, either emotionally (if Oliver turns out to be a lying little manipulator) or physically (if Oliver is telling the truth and his past - Sikes - come back to haunt them all).


message 7: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Peter - I'm so glad we've made it to the bird portion of our story. :-) I'll never read another passage about birds in any book without thinking of you!

(Off the topic of OT - we've put out a hummingbird feeder for the first time, which quickly became something of a hot spot for the local hummingbird population. Every sighting is a moment of excitement and joy!)


message 8: by Xan (last edited Jul 14, 2018 07:28AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Is anyone else getting a little bored with Oliver's goodness and innocence? Is that sacrilege to say such a thing? Please, Mr. Dickens, just once let us see him sulk, whine, or have a temper tantru..."

Yes. His face too. He is a character of no depth up to this point, more a lost angel than a person. I suspect Dickens has little choice. The middle class of Victorian England probably had little tolerance for pickpockets and feral children. Encounters were probably many and confrontations dangerous.

None of these kids -- Bates, the Dodger, or Oliver -- are anything like what I imagine a real child in their predicament would be like. You do see it for a flashing moment, though, when the Dodger takes a hearty swing at Fagin with the long fork (a dangerous weapon). He didn't hesitate. Now, imagine what a 10-year-old almost feral pickpocket might use to swing at someone who has grabbed him or is chasing him.


message 9: by Tristram (last edited Jul 14, 2018 08:31AM) (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4852 comments Mod
It's nice to see that I am not the only one who is bored to death by Oliver. He is a little bit like the little kid in an animated children's show my daughter loves - my son hated it -, namely "Caillou". If you don't know "Caillou", take my advise and leave it at that ;-) I always call Caillou the good-manners-zombie.


message 10: by Xan (last edited Jul 14, 2018 10:08AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Bambi meets East London?


message 11: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments I agree, Oliver has no depth and is more like a caricature than a human. He is too good, too pathetic. I actually chuckled at one his, "Oh pray, sir!" outburts that he does so frequently. What happened to the spunk he used to have when he punched Noah and rebelled against Mr. Bumble and the Sowerberrys? That was interesting. I'd like to see the fighter in him again.


message 12: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Peter wrote: "Do you think there is any significance in the fact that the kindly Rose Maylie is approximately the same age as Nancy? Why might Dickens have created these two young women and made them similar in age?"

Good observation on the ages. I think it's important that the women are young and single, because if they were married with children, their attention would be split between the family and Oliver, and the dynamic would be totally different.

Maybe these young, single women are "ghosts" of Oliver's mother. We don't know the history of Oliver's mother yet, but at the beginning of the story, she seemed to be young, single, and on her own with no boyfriend or man who cared about her. She also seemed like a nurturing person who loved Oliver and wanted to raise him, but didn't get the chance.


message 13: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4852 comments Mod
Oliver is indeed too good to be true, and too grammatical to be true, into the bargain. Even his language bears no evidence of any influence exercised by his coarse and unfriendly surroundings.

Maybe, the narrator wants to make a certain point by making Oliver so noble that nothing will affect him, but at this point, it is too early to say more about it because that would mean including spoilers. There is just one detail I remember from last week's chapters: When Monks and Fagin talk about how they would have liked to turn Oliver into a criminal and have him transported for life, or "lagged", as Fagin and his friends would have put it, Fagin says,

"'I saw it was not easy to train him to the business [...] he was not like other boys in the same circumstances.'"


Are we then supposed to believe that Oliver is beyond and above temptation, that his character is unassailable? And if so, why? What makes him better than, let's say, Charley Bates or the Artful Dodger? Is it a question of Nature, and not of Nurture?


message 14: by Xan (last edited Jul 15, 2018 06:01AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments The features of his head, the look on his face? Possibly wealthy, even aristocratic, parentage? Indicators of nature in the 1850s. Just guessing, but too much innuendo about his face for it not to matter.

Even the doctor says to the ladies they have to look at him. I thought it interesting when they neglected to look at him when he first entered the house and was being put to bed. It appears the secret to Oliver's incorruptibility is to be found in his face.

Oliver went with a bullet wound in his shoulder for quite some time before receiving medical treatment, yet he didn't bleed out.


message 15: by Alissa (last edited Jul 15, 2018 02:25PM) (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Yes, I do think Dickens is setting up Oliver as nobility of some kind. He has a different face, different behaviors, and even Fagin agrees that he's "not like the other boys," and Fagin has trained many.

Both Monks and Brownlow saw something familiar in Oliver's face when they first saw him. There was also a portrait in Brownlow's house that looked like Oliver. If Oliver's family had portraits done, this implies that they had money.

Peter asked if we recognize any fairy tales here. How about The Prince and the Pauper? I also recall a Greek myth about Zeus disguising himself as a beggar and knocking on people's doors to test their charity.


message 16: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Peter - you have surpassed yourself with these amazing insightful comments!

I have always found that, despite its enormous appeal, this book shows Dickens's immaturity as a writer. A big part of that is the one-sided impossibly angelic Oliver; another when Dickens goes off on one of his hectoring diatribes.


message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "It's nice to see that I am not the only one who is bored to death by Oliver. He is a little bit like the little kid in an animated children's show my daughter loves - my son hated it -, namely "Cai..."

Why is Caillou bald? I've never been able to figure that out. I also can't imagine you watching Caillou.


message 18: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Poor, poor Oliver. :-)


message 19: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "He is a little bit like the little kid in an animated children's show my daughter loves - my son hated ..."

I just had to show you this:

On May 1, 2017, the National Post writer Tristin Hopper identified Caillou to be "quite possibly the world’s most universally reviled children’s program," noting "a stunning level of animosity for a series about the relatively uncontroversial daily life of a four-year-old boy." Examples include several "I hate Caillou" pages made on Facebook, posts saying that Caillou is a ripoff of Charlie Brown, numerous parenting blogs criticizing the series, and petitions on Change.org for the show to stop airing.

A common criticism towards the series is the whiny and temper-tantrum behavior of the titular character and the lack of consequences Caillou is given for it. As Hopper explained, "This has understandably led to theories that this is an accurate portrayal of Canadian parenting and that Canada is raising a generation of psychopaths. Or that Caillou’s parents are so blasted on Canadian weed that they are unable to summon the presence of mind necessary to properly discipline their child." He called the series "a toddler version of Sex and the City or Mad Men," criticizing its lack of educational value: "Unlike most children’s programming, Caillou makes almost no attempt to educate its young audience. There are no veiled math problems, spelling lessons or morality tales; it’s just calm, non-threatening, bright-coloured people navigating everyday tasks."



message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


The wounded Oliver thrown into the Ditch

Chapter 28

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Bear a hand with the boy," cried Sikes, beckoning furiously to his confederate. "Come back!"

Toby made a show of returning; but ventured, in a low voice, broken for want of breath, to intimate considerable reluctance as he came slowly along.

"Quicker!" cried Sikes, laying the boy in a dry ditch at his feet, and drawing a pistol from his pocket. "Don't play booty with me."

At this moment the noise grew louder. Sikes, again looking round, could discern that the men who had given chase were already climbing the gate of the field in which he stood; and that a couple of dogs were some paces in advance of them.

"It’s all up, Bill!" cried Toby; "drop the kid, and show 'em your heels." With this parting advice, Mr. Crackit, preferring the chance of being shot by his friend, to the certainty of being taken by his enemies, fairly turned tail, and darted off at full speed. Sikes clenched his teeth; took one look around; threw over the prostrate form of Oliver, the cape in which he had been hurriedly muffled; ran along the front of the hedge, as if to distract the attention of those behind, from the spot where the boy lay; paused, for a second, before another hedge which met it at right angles; and whirling his pistol high into the air, cleared it at a bound, and was gone.


Commentary:

In focusing on the scene in which the thieves flee, abandoning the wounded Oliver for dead, Furniss depicts a particularly dramatic moment, and he here departs from the approach taken by George Cruikshank, his great predecessor as an illustrator of Dickens's works.

After a pair of satirical and romantic illustrations in the preceding months' installments in Bentley's Miscellany, Cruikshank, Dickens's original illustrator, provided a melodramatic study of Oliver, near death apparently, asking for help at the portico of the Maylie mansion in Chertsey, Oliver at Mrs. Maylie's door (Part 13, April 1838). Although Cruikshank, doubtless consulting the novelist at this stage, chose an incident for illustration in which Oliver is once again a petitioner, he did not select the far more emotionally compelling moment when Sikes, thinking Oliver near death from the gunshot wound he has just sustained in the botched robbery, abandons the boy in a ditch in the fields of Surrey. Of course, Household Edition illustrator James Mahoney, has provided Furniss with a precedent for depicting other, more dramatic moments in the robbery sequence, in the 1871 wood-engravings — as, for example, "Directly I leave go of you, do your work. Hark!" in Chapter 22. Cruikshank's chosen moment, Oliver at Mrs. Maylie's door (Part 13, April 1838), has the virtue of enlisting the reader's sympathy for a boy who in attempting to be a perpetrator became a victim; however, once again, Oliver is acted upon rather than acting, and the scene in the periodical illustration hardly exploits the text's possibility for sensational effect. Furniss deftly suggests the chaotic nature of the flight of the thieves after they are compelled to abandon their burglary and take to their heels across the fields, the vegetation of which threaten to engulf both Sikes and Oliver.

As opposed to the work of other fin de siecle Dickens illustrators such as F. W. Pailthorpe (1886) and Charles Pears (1912), Furniss was interested in realisation rather than character study, as the detailed captions for the illustrations in The Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910). Furthermore, whereas Pailthorpe emulated the style of his friend George Cruikshank and Charles Pears adopted a naturalistic manner suggestive of portrait photography, Harry Furniss recasts the early Victorian text in a markedly staccato and impressionistic style consonant with turn-of-the-century developments in painting, in part a reaction to the realism of the illustrators of the sixties such as Fred Walker, George du Maurier, and C. S. Reinhart. Nowhere are these artistic trends more in evidence in this volume than in Furniss's fluid description of Sikes's abandoning the (apparently) dying Oliver. Furniss has so melded the boy and the vegetation that it is difficult at first glance for readers to discern where Oliver's legs end and the engulfing vegetation begins. A black profile in the night, Sikes is yet to throw the cloak over his body, and grips it as yells at Toby Crackit, already rapidly receding in the distance, upper left. Only Oliver's head distinguishes him from the trees at the bottom, but the artist has rendered that distinct by placing it in the light, whereas he has made the thieves mere shadows to suggest the night-time action.


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


Oliver at Mrs. Maylie's door

Chapter 28

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

These precautions having been taken, Mr. Giles held on fast by the tinker's arm (to prevent his running away, as he pleasantly said), and gave the word of command to open the door. Brittles obeyed; the group, peeping timorously over each other's shoulders, beheld no more formidable object than poor little Oliver Twist, speechless and exhausted, who raised his heavy eyes, and mutely solicited their compassion.

"A boy!" exclaimed Mr. Giles, valiantly, pushing the tinker into the background. 'What's the matter with the — eh? — Why — Brittles — look here — don't you know?"

Brittles, who had got behind the door to open it, no sooner saw Oliver, than he uttered a loud cry. Mr. Giles, seizing the boy by one leg and one arm (fortunately not the broken limb) lugged him straight into the hall, and deposited him at full length on the floor thereof.

"Here he is!" bawled Giles, calling in a state of great excitement, up the staircase; "here's one of the thieves, ma'am! Here's a thief, miss! Wounded, miss! I shot him, miss; and Brittles held the light."


Commentary:

After the botched robbery, Sikes and his housebreaking crew abandon the apparently lifeless Oliver in a ditch, but the boy recovers consciousness and struggles back to the Maylies' doorstep at Chertsey in Surrey, more than a little apprehensive about his reception there.

Here the picture is literally only half of the story in that the servants are as terrified of the person at the door as Oliver is at the kind of reception he may receive at the hands of those whom he had conspired to rob. Dickens has specified that the front of the house has a neoclassical, pillared portico in the style of Robert Adam. However, Cruikshank has had to complement Dickens's text by drawing a convincing picture of the liveried male servants Giles and Brittles, and the timid female servants behind them. But the picture does not prepare the reader for the intervention of the young mistress on the boy's behalf. Then, too, this illustration of an emaciated, ill-clothed child begging for entry contrasts the image of a well-dressed, pampered Noah Claypole, Oliver's nemesis at the Sowerberrys, gluttonously devouring oysters, the illustration immediately preceding this.





message 22: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


Oliver smiles in his sleep

Chapter 30

Harry Furniss

1910 Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

Stepping before them, he looked into the room. Motioning them to advance, he closed the door when they had entered; and gently drew back the curtains of the bed. Upon it, in lieu of the dogged, black-visaged ruffian they had expected to behold, there lay a mere child: worn with pain and exhaustion, and sunk into a deep sleep. His wounded arm, bound and splintered up, was crossed upon his breast; his head reclined upon the other arm, which was half hidden by his long hair, as it streamed over the pillow.

The honest gentleman held the curtain in his hand, and looked on, for a minute or so, in silence. Whilst he was watching the patient thus, the younger lady glided softly past, and seating herself in a chair by the bedside, gathered Oliver's hair from his face. As she stooped over him, her tears fell upon his forehead.

The boy stirred, and smiled in his sleep, as though these marks of pity and compassion had awakened some pleasant dream of a love and affection he had never known. Thus, a strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent place, or the odour of a flower, or the mention of a familiar word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that never were, in this life; which vanish like a breath; which some brief memory of a happier existence, long gone by, would seem to have awakened; which no voluntary exertion of the mind can ever recall.


Commentary:

Harry Furniss, the last great Victorian illustrator of the novel, depicts the sleeping Oliver watched over by the solicitous Dr. Losberne and the tender Rose Maylie. Furniss chose to create a purely sentimental scene rather than follow George Cruikshank, the novel's original illustrator, who emphasized suspense and comedy.

Whereas George Cruikshank in the original serial had tended to focus on more dramatic and humorous incidents, such as Oliver's being interviewed by the obtuse police officers Blathers and Duff, in the Household Edition, volume 3, James Mahoney had offered a sentimental moment for realisation that provided Furniss with a precedent for depicting other, more sentimental moments. Thus, the original serial illustration immediately led readers to speculate about whether Oliver would identify Bill Sikes as the chief culprit — and whether the professional police, with greater investigative powers, would uncover the fact that Oliver was himself involved in the attempted burglary. The present illustration represents Furniss's very different reaction to both the original illustration and Dickens's text, as he eliminates (at least for the moment) any speculation about how much involving the robbery Oliver will choose to reveal to the authorities.

In the present plate, having dragged himself to the Maylies' front door (after being dumped in a ditch by the fleeing Sikes), Oliver, near death, is nursed back to health by the kindly Rose Maylie, and the local physician, all three of whom the illustrator of the 1910 includes. Although George Cruikshank took obvious delight in depicting Oliver's reception by the Maylies' comic suspicious servants in Oliver at Mrs. Maylie's door (Part 13, April 1838), and his interrogation by the rather thick-headed police officers Blathers and Duff in Oliver waited on by the Bow Street Runners (Part 14, May 1838).

For the reader unacquainted with the story's trajectory, a proleptic reading of the passage in the text in the Charles Dickens Library Edition would suggest that Oliver once again will suffer a near death experience, if indeed he does not die of his wound and exposure. However, by the time that readers arrive at the Furniss illustration of that textual moment, they are aware that Oliver's life force has not yet been quenched, and that, having regained consciousness, he has been accepted into the Maylie mansion as a child in need of medical assistance rather than a thief who has been wounded in the commission of a robbery. Thus, the Furniss illustration is not merely sentimental or even coincidental, but providential. In contrast to the original Cruikshank illustration, this 1910 revision lacks the humor afforded by the Bow Street Runners, figures whose self-important foolishness anticipates the utter ineptitude of early film-maker Mack Sennet's Keystone Cops (1912-1917).

Since either the series editor, J. A. Hammerton, or Furniss himself has positioned the illustration for Chapter 30 well into Chapter 31, "Involves a Critical Position," by the time that the reader has encountered the illustration the reader knows that Oliver will make a full recovery, for in Chapter 31 "Mssrs. Blathers and Duff, attended by the native [i. e., local] constable" are interrogating Oliver, as in the 1838 Cruikshank illustration, so that in the original Dickens's satire of the ineptitude of the Bow Street Runners (the pre-Scotland Yard London police force founded by magistrate Henry Fielding) foils the sweet sentimentality of the Oliver's receiving appropriate care from the Maylies and their servants. The fourth figure in the scene, just behind the physician, is Mrs. Maylie, an elderly, upper-middle-class lady with a look of deep concern which reveals that she, too, is a female Samaritan figure like Mr. Brownlow's housekeeper, Mrs. Bedwin, earlier in the story. In contrast, Furniss's contemporary, J. Clayton Clarke depicts only the stronger, more threatening, or more amusing characters and scenes, even as contemporary comic artist F. W. Pailthorpe in his 1886 sequence had avoided this tender moment entirely, dwelling instead upon the fashionable lock-picker Toby Crackit.


message 23: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


Oliver waited on by the Bow Street Runners

Chapter 31

George Cruikshank

Text Illustrated:

'Very curious, indeed,' observed the doctor. 'Now, if you please, you can walk upstairs.'

'If you please, sir,' returned Mr. Blathers. Closely following Mr. Losberne, the two officers ascended to Oliver's bedroom; Mr. Giles preceding the party, with a lighted candle.

Oliver had been dozing; but looked worse, and was more feverish than he had appeared yet. Being assisted by the doctor, he managed to sit up in bed for a minute or so; and looked at the strangers without at all understanding what was going forward—in fact, without seeming to recollect where he was, or what had been passing.

'This,' said Mr. Losberne, speaking softly, but with great vehemence notwithstanding, 'this is the lad, who, being accidently wounded by a spring-gun in some boyish trespass on Mr. What-d' ye-call-him's grounds, at the back here, comes to the house for assistance this morning, and is immediately laid hold of and maltreated, by that ingenious gentleman with the candle in his hand: who has placed his life in considerable danger, as I can professionally certify.'

Messrs. Blathers and Duff looked at Mr. Giles, as he was thus recommended to their notice. The bewildered butler gazed from them towards Oliver, and from Oliver towards Mr. Losberne, with a most ludicrous mixture of fear and perplexity.

'You don't mean to deny that, I suppose?' said the doctor, laying Oliver gently down again.

'It was all done for the—for the best, sir,' answered Giles. 'I am sure I thought it was the boy, or I wouldn't have meddled with him. I am not of an inhuman disposition, sir.'


Commentary:

Here, George Cruikshank illustrates the aftermath of the breaking-and-entering episode which first introduces Oliver Twist to the Maylies in Chertsey, Surrey.

The incident itself is well known: briefly, in the early hours of the morning, the villainous Bill Sykes forces Oliver to break into Mrs. Maylie's house through a little window. But Mr. Giles, her steward and butler, hears the noise and fires a shot at him from the top of the stairs. Sikes gets the injured boy out through the window again, but, when pursued, he and his accomplice Toby Crackit abandon him in a ditch. Oliver manages to struggle back to the house through the drenching rain and knock on the door, to be taken in from the doorstep like a pint of milk. A doctor and a constable are called, the former, Mr Losberne, being a large, hearty, kindly man, seen here later on gesturing at his patient and looking accusingly at poor Giles. The constable (not shown here) is also a large but rather crude person. Losberne, Mrs. Maylie, and her ward Rose quickly decide that Oliver looks too innocent to be taken into police custody, so Losberne hastens to remove suspicion from Oliver by confusing the "thick-headed constable-fellow". This is easily done, especially as the man is now the worse for drink. But then a gig turns up at the door. Giles and Mr. Brittles, the odd-job lad, had taken it on themselves to send for the Bow Street Runners.

Dickens expresses his opinion of the efficiency of the Bow Street Runners, the predecessors of the Metropolitan London Police(the original force of just six constables having found founded by Henry Fielding in 1749 and disbanded in 1839), in the names he gives the officers in Part 14 (May 1838) of The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress . Given their limited ability to conduct the interview, the evasive account that Losberne provides, and the contradictory narratives of Giles and Brittles, it is not surprising that the constables return to London without having made an arrest. Strangely, Cruikshank has made the bed-ridden, feverish Oliver, recovering from his ordeal, look like a miniature adult, and has not subjected the four adults to much visual satire.

Putting the officers off the scent presents more of a challenge — or it should do. However, neither their names nor their appearances are promising. Cruikshank portrays them very accurately here. Mr Blathers (to "blather" means to talk nonsense) is "a stout personage of middle height, aged about fifty: with shiny black hair, cropped pretty close; half-whiskers, a round face, and sharp eyes." Mr Duff ("duff" is an adjective meaning fake, or not the real thing, and "to duff someone up" means to assault them), is rougher-looking: he is "a red-headed, bony man, in top-boots, with a rather ill-favoured countenance, and a turned-up, sinister-looking nose".

As soon as they come into the parlour, Blathers tries to take charge of the situation, putting some handcuffs down on the table, ready to make an arrest. But Duff, who plays the part of the stooge, sits down awkwardly and puts the end of his stick to his mouth. Losberne starts by saying the boy had nothing to do with the attempted burglary. After the pair have poked around for evidence, he softens them up by offering them drinks, which they gratefully accept. Rose encourages them to ramble on about another local case that was never satisfactorily solved.

In the scene illustrated above, the two officers, who have now been conducted to Oliver's bedside, stand between Mr. Losberne and Mr. Giles, who holds a candle. Losberne confuses them, as he had confused the constable previously, by saying that Oliver is simply a boy who came seeking help after having been accidentally wounded in a "boyish trespass". As he had done before, too, he makes it obvious that Giles cannot identify him as one of the robbers, and blames him for Oliver's condition. Giles is again too puzzled by the false account to contradict him. Finally, after going out to nearby Kingston-on-Thames on another meaningless mission, Blathers and Duff depart none the wiser, arguing about the culprits of the other local case they had been discussing. They assume that the same people were involved this time, though they cannot agree on the actual culprit. Like the constable, they are, in short, a comedy turn, especially in comparison with the sympathetic Losberne and Maylies.

In literary terms, bamboozling the incompetent Blather and Duff is useful because it counteracts the sentimentality that surrounds Oliver at the Maylies. It is simply not fair to say that Fagin's den is "the one pocket of vitality and spontaneity in the novel". There is much else here, including this episode, that comes memorably to life. The episode is also important in another way. Today, misleading police officers would be frowned on. But things were different then. The emphasis was on preventing rather than detecting crime. Investigative policing was not yet on a professional footing: in 1838 the process had not even started. As for the Metropolitan Police, "a small detective force was formed in 1842, was greatly increased numerically in 1869, and was transformed into the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in 1878". In these early days, detective work was viewed with suspicion rather than respect, as a form of spying and intrusion (see Wilson and Finnane). Losberne's perversion of an imperfect justice system, in favor of a more reliable higher one, makes a particular point: it suggests a set of values that does not depend on, or even trust, human agencies, overriding them for an acceptable end. As Losberne says to Mrs Maylie and Rose, "the object is a good one, and that must be our excuse."




message 24: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


"Just send somebody out to relieve my mate, will you, young man?"

Chapter 31

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Who's that?"?inquired Brittles, opening the door a little way, with the chain up, and peeping out, shading the candle with his hand.

"Open the door," replied a man outside; "it's the officers from Bow Street, as was sent to to-day."

Much comforted by this assurance, Brittles opened the door to its full width, and confronted a portly man in a great-coat; who walked in, without saying anything more, and wiped his shoes on the mat, as coolly as if he lived there.

"Just send somebody out to relieve my mate, will you, young man?"? said the officer; "he's in the gig, a-minding the prad. Have you got a coach 'us here, that you could put it up in, for five or ten minutes?"

Brittles replying in the affirmative, and pointing out the building, the portly man stepped back to the garden-gate, and helped his companion to put up the gig: while Brittles lighted them, in a state of great admiration. This done, they returned to the house, and, being shown into a parlour, took off their great-coats and hats, and showed like what they were.

" The man who had knocked at the door, was a stout personage of middle height, aged about fifty: with shiny black hair, cropped pretty close; half-whiskers, a round face, and sharp eyes. The other was a red-headed, bony man, in top-boots; with a rather ill-favoured countenance, and a turned-up sinister-looking nose.

"Tell your governor that Blathers and Duff is here, will you?"


Commentary:

Although George Cruikshank took obvious delight in depicting Oliver's reception by the Maylies' suspicious servants in Oliver at Mrs. Maylie's door (Part 13, April 1838), and the interrogation of the sickly child in Oliver waited on by the Bow Street Runners (Part 15, May 1837), for Chapter 31 Mahoney both attempted and achieved less in a scene that depicts neither the Maylies nor Dr. Losberne nor Oliver himself; indeed, it is as if Mahoney expected that readers would already be familiar with Cruikshank's steel engravings, and therefore avoided duplicating those earlier, highly successful realisations, both of which continue Oliver's "progress" out of the underworld and back into his proper station in English society. Indeed, Dickens establishes the pattern of Oliver's being apprehended as a thief and then exonerated and released. The butler, Mr. Giles (candle in hand in the Cruikshank and Mahoney illustrations), and Mr. Brittles, the odd-job lad, had taken it on themselves to send for the Bow Street Runners — much to Dr. Losberne's chagrin. Through the self-important Blathers (whom Mahoney has depicted at the front door, and his comedic foil, the taciturn Duff, Dickens expresses his contempt for investigatory ineptitude of the Bow Street Runners, the predecessors of the Metropolitan London Police (the original force of just six constables having been founded by magistrate Henry Fielding in 1749 and not disbanded in 1839), in the names he gives the officers in Chapter 31 of The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress . Given their limited ability to conduct the interview, the evasive account that the attending physician, Dr. Losberne, provides, and the contradictory narratives of the servants Giles and Brittles, it is not surprising that the constables return to London without having made an arrest. George Cruikshank has made the bed-ridden, feverish Oliver, recovering from his nocturnal ordeal, look like a miniature adult, and has not subjected the four adults to much visual satire. Unfortunately, in choosing to depict instead the arrival of the heavy, middle-aged, self-important officer in a great coat — representative of the metropolitan police, Mahoney has passed over the scenes with the greatest visual interest in these chapters.

Mahoney's realization of the figure of the obtuse, garrulous lead detective as a "portly man in a great-coat" adds the missing piece to the earlier Cruikshank illustrations since Losberne has little difficulty in putting the London police constables off the scent. However, the arrival of the uniformed officer of justice is not without suspense, as the reader reasonably expects that this external "expert" will be more successful than the local police in extracting the truth from Oliver. The only humor that Mahoney extracts from his text is that his butler, Brittles, is hardly a "young man," so that his Blathers, gesturing towards the horse and gig beyond, is either self-aggrandizing or quite imperceptive — in either case, his investigation of the attempted burglary is likely to go nowhere.


message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod


When it became quite dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit down to the piano, and play some pleasant air

Chapter 32

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Sending the plate, which had so excited Fagin's cupidity, to the banker's; and leaving Giles and another servant in care of the? ?house, they departed to a cottage at some distance in the country, and took Oliver with them.

Who can describe the pleasure and delight, the peace of mind and soft tranquility, the sickly boy felt in the balmy air, and among the green hills and rich woods, of an inland village! . . . .

It was a happy time. The days were peaceful and serene; the nights brought with them neither fear nor care; no languishing in a wretched prison, or associating with wretched men; nothing but pleasant and happy thoughts. Every morning he went to a white-headed old gentleman, who lived near the little church: who taught him to read better, and to write: and who spoke so kindly, and took such pains, that Oliver could never try enough to please him. Then, he would walk with Mrs. Maylie and Rose, and hear them talk of books; or perhaps sit near them, in some shady place, and listen whilst the young lady read: which he could have done, until it grew too dark to see the letters. Then, he had his own lesson for the next day to prepare; and at this, he would work hard, in a little room which looked into the garden, till evening came slowly on, when the ladies would walk out again, and he with them: listening with such pleasure to all they said: and so happy if they wanted a flower that he could climb to reach, or had forgotten anything he could run to fetch: that he could never be quick enough about it. When it became quite dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit down to the piano, and play some pleasant air, or sing, in a low and gentle voice, some old song which it pleased her aunt to hear. There would be no candles lighted at such times as these; and Oliver would sit by one of the windows, listening to the sweet music, in a perfect rapture.


Commentary:

For Chapter 31 Mahoney both attempted and achieved less in a scene that depicts neither the Maylies nor Dr. Losberne nor Oliver himself; indeed, it is as if Mahoney expected that readers would already be familiar with Cruikshank's steel engravings, and therefore avoided duplicating those earlier, highly successful realisations, both of which continue Oliver's "progress" out of the underworld and back into his proper station in English society. Indeed, Dickens establishes the pattern of Oliver's being apprehended as a thief and then exonerated and released.

However, the new element is the inexplicable disappearance of Mr. Brownlow, for, when Dr. Losberne drives in Oliver in his carriage to Pentonville, they discover that the house is "to let," and that the owner has moved his entire household to the West Indies. For the next three months, Oliver experiences what it is to be an upper-middle-class child far removed from the vice and crime of the metropolis. In the Mahoney idyll, there is no snake to marr the edenic scene, just an elderly lady dozing on a sofa as she listens to her niece play the piano in the darkening parlour after sunset. Oliver, neareast the garden window, sits listening intently rather than merely drinking in the comfortable situation.

What distinguishes Mahoney's work from that of Dickens's earlier illustrators — notably George Cruikshank and Hablot Knight Browne — is that he is consciously complementing rather than extending the narrative of the author, attending to matters of ambience, tone, and mood rather than action or even characterisation. The musical interlude is pertinent to this notion since Mahoney's image establishes a suitable feeling to accompany the Romantic idyll, like music to lyrics, that is, the Dickens letterpress or text. The effect, then, of reading the Household Edition volume is rather different from reading the original serial, whose illustrations establish an anticipatory set in the reader's mind and comment upon the text, or the 1846 Chapman and Hall volume, whose strategically placed illustrations invite the reader to peruse certain key moments in the plot attentively, comparing image and text. Mahoney does not attend much to the details of the scene; rather, he establishes a suitable mood or tone derived from a sensitive reading of a less plot-oriented moment.

Subsequent illustrators have enjoyed to varying degrees the opportunity for depicting the sensational and melodramatic events in the "Chertsey" chapters, but have neglected the more tranquil aspects of Oliver's sojourn with the Maylies. Sol Eytinge, Junior, in his dual portrait of the dissolute Bill Sikes and Nancy for Chapter 39, keeps his eye on the more sensational characters and aspects of the crime-and-detection plot, here showing the physical and moral consequences of the criminal couple's involving the blameless child in their burglary scheme. In the 1910 Charles Dickens Library Edition volume, Harry Furniss carefully graphs the events leading up to Oliver's integration into the Maylie household, from his being fired upon by the servants and left in a ditch to die to his being watched over in his sleep by Rose Maylie and Dr. Losberne in Chapter 30 as he recovers from the ordeal of The Burglary in Chapter 21.


message 26: by Xan (last edited Jul 16, 2018 03:45PM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Was that a violin I heard playing throughout the narrative that ended chapter 32? Between Oliver's declarations of devotion to both of them and that flowery ending, I'd call this a 5 packet of saccharine chapter.

I'm amazed Dickens had any fans left.


message 27: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Oh, yes, and the birds as a symbol have been wrecked.


message 28: by Peter (last edited Jul 16, 2018 08:35PM) (new)

Peter | 3442 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "When it became quite dark, and they returned home, the young lady would sit down to the piano, and play some pleasant air

Chapter 32

James Mahoney

1871 Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

Send..."


We certainly get a variety of depictions of Oliver in this week’s illustrations but what all the illustrators have in common is that they depict Oliver as a placid, sickly sweet, and pathetically innocent looking individual. As many Curiosities have already commented, Oliver is a bit too perfect. Perhaps we could put it down to OT being an early novel, yet Dickens later good characters are often wrapped in saccharine as well. (Fear not, Kim. I will defend Little Nell when the time comes.)

I found this commentary/analysis very interesting and informative. It is interesting to consider the idea of an illustrator “complementing rather than extending the narrative of the author.” When we read that “the reading of the Household Edition volume is rather different from reading the original serial we realize how much the illustrations played a part in forming the readers’ experiences. The interaction of the text and image were important aspects of a Victorian’s reading experience.


message 29: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments The illustration of Oliver sitting rectilinear with hands folded over knees is too perfect.


message 30: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Mary Lou wrote: "Well, first, Losberne is just a Nice Guy. If we couldn't figure it out for ourselves, Dickens makes a point of telling us on two different occasions what a stand-up guy the doctor is."

This made me laugh. It's true this story doesn't seem to believe much in letting its readers miss any points.


message 31: by Julie (last edited Jul 16, 2018 10:35PM) (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Kim wrote: "Tristram wrote: "It's nice to see that I am not the only one who is bored to death by Oliver. He is a little bit like the little kid in an animated children's show my daughter loves - my son hated ..."

During a particularly challenging period in my life I used to watch Caillou every chance I got with my toddler, not because Caillou was perfect, but because his parents were even more perfect and it soothed me to believe there were people in this world who could raise children without, like me, making an utter botch of it on a daily basis. Not that I really believed anyone was that good. But escapism has its moments.

And yet I can't stand Rose.

Caillou's parents were so much more sensible than Rose is. When the doctor talks down to her (not that I blame him) or when she fears her completely benevolent aunt will send Oliver off to prison, it's very telling. She's all compassion, no brain.


message 32: by Xan (last edited Jul 17, 2018 03:46AM) (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Thing about Oliver is he is always sickly when being saved.

I've been reading James, Dickens, and Wharton, and the one thing I've noticed about this time period is these people always have enough spare rooms to put invited and uninvited guests up for months at a time. The other thing they all have in common is they have nothing to do. I don't know about any of you, but I would be splitting a gut if for months all I had to do was listen to an older sister-type person play the piano night after night . . . especially sitting like that.

Just having some fun with OT.


message 33: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Thing about Oliver is he is always sickly when being saved.

I've been reading James, Dickens, and Wharton, and the one thing I've noticed about this time period is these people always have enough..."


Xan, John Fowles has a riff in The French Lieutenant's Woman where he says a key difference between the Victorians and us (and I suspect by Victorians he means gentlefolk Victorians) is that we always feel like we don't have enough time to get things done, and they always wonder how they'll possibly fill all their time.

I'm not sure what he bases that on, but it would seem to tally with your observations about the novels!


message 34: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Julie, I started The Magus. It hasn't helped that I recently read somewhere Fowles admitting he couldn't explain the ending because the story had gotten so complicated and mysterious that by the time he got there he didn't know what to do.


message 35: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Julie, I started The Magus. It hasn't helped that I recently read somewhere Fowles admitting he couldn't explain the ending because the story had gotten so complicated and mysterious that by the ti..."

Yeah, I kind of regret that I finished The Magus. I did like French Lieutenant, though.


message 36: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Julie wrote: "Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Julie, I started The Magus. It hasn't helped that I recently read somewhere Fowles admitting he couldn't explain the ending because the story had gotten so complicated and..."

Of course, I also know a guy who found The Magus miraculous and life-changing. Different strokes.


message 37: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Was that a violin I heard playing throughout the narrative that ended chapter 32? Between Oliver's declarations of devotion to both of them and that flowery ending, I'd call this a 5 packet of sacc..."

I don't say this very often, so consider yourself part of an exclusive group of people.........grump. :-)


message 38: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Oliver is a bit too perfect. Perhaps we could put it down to OT being an early novel, yet Dickens later good characters are often wrapped in saccharine as well. (Fear not, Kim. I will defend Little Nell when the time comes.)"

I'm beginning to think that Oliver and Little Nell were really brother and sister, the poor children seem to cause an equal amount of grumpiness around here. :-)


message 39: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments Peter wrote: "It appears that the combined forces of the Maylie’s and the doctor have their work cut out for them as they attempt to deflect, and hopefully convince the Bow Street men that Oliver is innocent. In what ways so you see this event as a key part of the novel?"

This is the first time that Oliver isn't accused and punished for something, even with "guilty" evidence. He took the rap for stealing the handkerchief and could have got in worse trouble for the break-in, but he got away free this time.

I also noticed that Oliver got to tell his story, finally. When he was with Brownlow, he tried to tell his story, but Grimwig interrupted him. Then, Bumble told Oliver's story, but in a biased way. This time, Oliver could speak for himself and tell his full story to the Maylies.

It looks like Oliver has more power than before, and luck has shifted in his direction.


message 40: by Alissa (new)

Alissa | 317 comments How is it possible that the house Losberne checked out did not match Oliver's description? Did Oliver have the wrong house, or did someone alter it to cover their tracks?

The hunchback claimed he lived there 25 years and was very combative. When he gave Oliver the evil eye, I got the impression that he might be a threat later on.


message 41: by Peter (new)

Peter | 3442 comments Mod
Alissa wrote: "Peter wrote: "It appears that the combined forces of the Maylie’s and the doctor have their work cut out for them as they attempt to deflect, and hopefully convince the Bow Street men that Oliver i..."

Yes. Oliver has, so far in the novel, been acted upon. Perhaps here is the point in the novel where he acts for himself and puts into action his evolving character. Something tells me, however, that the sticky-sweet Oliver is not gone from the plot yet.


message 42: by Julie (last edited Jul 20, 2018 10:46AM) (new)

Julie Kelleher | 1340 comments Alissa wrote: "The hunchback claimed he lived there 25 years and was very combative. When he gave Oliver the evil eye, I got the impression that he might be a threat later on. ..."

Yes, I'm worried that this is how Fagin & co. are going to find Oliver again.


message 43: by Xan (new)

Xan  Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 969 comments Yup. That's what I'm thinking.

Pastoral Splendor? Indeed! Splendor enough that I wouldn't mind another round with Blathers and Duff -- are we sure they aren't a law firm? -- to break the monotony.

Brownlow? Australia? Does he have a few exiled inmates in the family he's visiting?


message 44: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2519 comments Kim wrote: "I'm beginning to think that Oliver and Little Nell were really brother and sister, the poor children seem to cause an equal amount of grumpiness around here."

I have to say, I'm almost afraid to read TOCS now -- if Little Nell is worse than Oliver, my teeth may rot just reading about her!

I hold on to the scene in which Oliver beats up the other kid at the undertakers. It's the only flaw we've seen so far, and even that was done in the name of defending his mother. But at least he didn't try to "use his words" as they say these days. And he showed a bit of gumption both in asking for more gruel, and leaving for London. Still, I wish he'd just call somebody a tosser or stomp his (undoubtedly) little foot and refuse to go to bed or something.


message 45: by Kim (new)

Kim | 6370 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "I have to say, I'm almost afraid to read TOCS now..."

The trick to reading TOCS is not to listen to Tristram. All his grumpiness comes to the top with that one. Everyman was the same way. Grumpy.


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