London: Richard Bentley, 1838. Item #03743
"There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts."
DICKENS, Charles. Oliver Twist. By Charles Dickens. Author of "The Pickwick Papers" In Three Volumes. Vol. I. [II. III. ] London: Richard Bentley, 1838.
First edition of Dickens' second novel. The "Charles Dickens" issue, with the title-page authorship credit to Charles Dickens instead of "Boz" and with the “Church” version of the final plate. First state of volume III with "pilaster" instead of "pier" or "pedestal" on page 164. Almost all the internal flaws according to Smith present.
Three octavo volumes (7 15/16 x 4 7/8 inches; 202 x 124 mm.). Volumes I and III in twelves, volume II in eights. [iv], 2-331, [1, blank], [4, advertisements]; [iv], 2-307, [1, blank]; [iv], 2-315, [1, blank] pp. No half-title called for in Volume III. Twenty-four engraved plates by George Cruikshank. Small piece (3/4 x 3/8 inch) torn away from upper corner of second plate in volume II, repaired tear to top margin of following pages (61/62; E7).
Original (Smith primary binding; Carter binding variant B) reddish brown fine-diaper cloth, front and back covers stamped in blind with an arabesque design, spines ruled in blind and lettered in gilt, original pale yellow coated endpapers. Some light foxing to plates as usual, some light occasional marginal soiling. Spine ends and inner hinges of volume three expertly and almost invisibly repaired, spines very slightly faded but gilt still bright. Armorial bookplate of Adrian Hoffman Joline on front paste-downs (bookplate for volume two removed). Housed in a quarter brown morocco clamshell case. An excellent and very attractive set.
For this novel, Dickens's first in the standard three-volume form, Bentley divided the printing task between two firms: Volume I was printed in a twelvemo format by Samuel Bentley; Volume II in octavo format by Whiting; and Volume III preliminaries and signatures A-F and probably G by Whiting with the remaining text by Samuel Bentley, again in twelvemo format. The three-decker publication date was 9 November 1839, and within a week, at Dickens's insistence, the title-pages were changed to include his name, and the “Church” version of the final plate was substituted for the “Fireside” version.
Smith I, 4.
Oliver Twist, is the second novel by Charles Dickens, and was first published as a serial 1837–39. The story is of the orphan Oliver Twist, who starts his life in a workhouse and is then sold into apprenticeship with an undertaker. He escapes from there and travels to London, where he meets the Artful Dodger, a member of a gang of juvenile pickpockets led by the elderly criminal Fagin.
Oliver Twist is notable for its unromantic portrayal by Dickens of criminals and their sordid lives, as well as for exposing the cruel treatment of the many orphans in London in the mid-19th century.
“My dear child,' said the old gentleman, moved by the warmth of Oliver's sudden appeal, 'you need not be afraid of my deserting you, unless you give me cause.' I never, never will, sir,' interposed Oliver."
In this early example of the social novel, Dickens satirizes the hypocrisies of his time, including child labor, the recruitment of children as criminals, and the presence of street children. The novel may have been inspired by the story A Memoir of of Robert Blincoe, (1832), an orphan whose account of working as a child laborer in a cotton mill was widely read in the 1830s. It is likely that Dickens's own youthful experiences contributed as well.
Oliver Twist has been the subject of numerous adaptations for various media, including a highly successful musical play, Oliver!, and the multiple Academy Award-winning 1968 motion picture which featured Mark Lester as Oliver, Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger, Ron Moody as Fagin and Oliver Reed as Bill Sykes.