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Anderson, Roland F. “Structure, Myth, and Rite in Oliver Twist.” Studies in the Novel 18, no. 3 (Spring, 1986): 238-257. Anderson explores the rites of passage that the plot of the novel depends on and demonstrates how the narrative structure itself seems to be centered in the myths associated with a rite of passage for a young man.

Dunn, Richard J. “Oliver Twist”: Whole Heart and Soul. New York: Macmillan, 1993. A thorough reader’s companion to the story. Dunn closely examines both the literary and historical context of the novel and includes five critical readings of Oliver Twist. This is perhaps the most useful text for beginning readers of the novel.

Ginsburg, Michal Peled. “Truth and Persuasion: The Language of Realism and of Ideology in Oliver Twist.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 20, no. 3 (Spring, 1987): 220-226. Ginsburg discusses the rhetorical methods that Dickens is using in the narrative voice of the novel to persuade the reader that most commoners in Victorian Britain were living difficult lives because of their low socioeconomic status. He suggests that this novel was Dickens’ call for action against the industrialists.

McMaster, Juliet. “Diabolic Trinity in Oliver Twist.” Dalhousie Review 61 (Summer, 1981): 263-277. McMaster believes that the three characters Fagin, Sikes, and Monks are a depraved inversion of the holy trinity, representing knowledge, power, and love. Each of these characters takes one of the aspects of the trinity and uses it in an evil way.

Wheeler, Burton M. “The Text and Plan of Oliver Twist.” Dickens Studies Annual: Essays on Victorian Fiction 12 (1983): 41-61. Wheeler discusses unanswered questions and contradictions in the novel. Explains that Dickens did not intend to turn what had begun as a short serial work into a novel and thus did not plan a credible plot.

For Further Reference

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Altick, Richard D. Victorian People and Ideas: A Companion for the Modern Reader of Victorian Literature. New York: Norton, 1973. An excellent source for background on the period in which Dickens wrote.

Collins, Philip A. W. Dickens and Crime. London and New York: Macmillan, 1962, 1964. Includes information on Dickens's depiction of crime that is pertinent to a study of Fagin and his gang.

House, Humphry. The Dickens World. 2d. ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1960. Includes an excellent discussion of the New Poor Law of 1834 and the workhouse system it set up.

Johnson, Edgar. Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph. 2 vols. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952. This Book-of-the-Month Club selection has become a standard biography. It includes good critical chapters on all the novels, including Oliver Twist.

Marcus, Steven. Dickens: From Pickwick to Dombey. London and New York: Chatto & Windus, 1965. This psychological and sociological study includes a useful chapter on Oliver Twist.

Miller, J. Hillis. Charles Dickens: The World of His Novels. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958. A standard on Dickens's novels. Includes a good discussion of Oliver Twist.

Orwell, George. "Charles Dickens." In Dickens, Dali, and Others: Studies in Popular Culture. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1946. A classic study of Dickens's novels.

Wilson, Edmund. "Dickens: The Two Scrooges." In The Wound and the Bow. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1941. An important discussion of Dickens's life as it relates to his novels.

Media Adaptations

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Oliver Twist was adapted as a silent film in 1909, directed by J. Stuart Blackton and starring William Humphrey and Elita Proctor Otis; in 1912, directed by Thomas Bentley; and in 1916, directed by James Young and starring Marie Doro and Tully Marshal.

The book was adapted as a film in 1922, directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Jackie Coogan and Lon Chaney; in 1933, directed by William J. Cowen and starring Dicke Moore and Irving Pichel; and in 1948, directed by David Leon and starring John Howard Davies and Alec Guinness.

Television versions were released in 1959, directed by Daniel Petrie and starring Richard Thomas and Eric Portman; in 1982, directed by Clive Donner and starring Richard Charles and George C. Scott; in 1985, directed by Gareth Davies and starring Ben Rodska and Eric Porter; in 1997, directed by Tony Bill and starring Alex Trench and Richard Dreyfuss; and in 1999 starring Sam Smith and Robert Lindsay, directed by Renny Rye.

A long-running Broadway musical based on Oliver Twist, entitled Oliver!, was adapted as a feature film in 1968, directed by Carol Reed.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Bayley, John, "Things As They Really Are," in Dickens: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Martin Price, Prentice Hall, 1967, pp. 83-96.

Ford, George H., Dickens and His Readers: Aspects of Novel Criticism since 1836, W. W. Norton and Company, 1965, pp. 35-47.

Gissing, George, Critical Studies of the Works of Charles Dickens, Haskell House, 1965, pp. 43-57.

Gold, Joseph, Charles Dickens: Radical Moralist, University of Minnesota Press, 1972, pp. 25-65.

Kincaid, James R., Dickens and the Rhetoric of Laughter, Oxford University Press, 1971, pp. 50-75.

Miller, J. Hillis, "The Dark World of Oliver Twist," in Charles Dickens, edited by Harold Bloom, Modern Critical Views series, Chelsea House, 1987, pp. 29-69.

Thurley, Geoffrey, The Dickens Myth: Its Genesis and Structure, St. Martin's Press, 1976, pp. 43-50.

For Further Reading

Fido, Martin, The World of Charles Dickens: The Life, Times and Work of the Great Victorian Novelist, Carlton, 1999.

This book provides background information on Dickens's time, life, and work.

Hobsbaum, Philip, A Reader's Guide to Charles Dickens, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1972.

This work examines all of Dickens's work and provides a guide to readers.

Kaplan, Fred, Dickens: A Biography, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

This biography of Dickens is written for high school students.

Pool, Daniel, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England, Touchstone Books, 1994.

This fascinating volume explains all the customs of daily life in Dickens's time.


Historical and Social Context