Oliver Twist (1838) is Charles Dickens' second novel. The book was originally published in Bentley's Miscellany as a serial, in monthly instalments that began appearing in the month of February 1837 and continued through April 1839. George Cruikshank provided one steel etching per month to illustrate each instalment. Oliver Twist is the first novel in the English language to center throughout on a child protagonist and is also notable for Dickens' unromantic portrayal of criminals and their sordid lives. The book's subtitle, The Parish Boy's Progress alludes to Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress and also to a pair of popular 18th-century caricature series by William Hogarth, A Rake's Progress and A Harlot's Progress. An early example of the social novel, the book calls the public's attention to various contemporary social evils, including the Poor Law that states that poor people should work in workhouses, child labour and the recruitment of children as criminals. Dickens mocks the hypocrisies of the time by surrounding the novel's serious themes with sarcasm and dark humour. The novel may have been inspired by the story of Robert Blincoe, an orphan whose account of his hardships as a child labourer in a cotton mill was widely read in the 1830s. - Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
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January 21, 2010
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