Oliver Twist


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Item#: 124121 price:$13,500.00 Currently On Reserve.

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DICKENS, Charles. Oliver Twist; Or, the Parish Boy's Progress. By "Boz." London: Richard Bentley, 1838. Three volumes. Octavo, original blind-stamped brown cloth, uncut. Housed in custom clamshell box. $13,500.

First edition, first issue, of Dickens' classic, with the "Fireside" plate and "Boz" title pages, uncut in original cloth.

"Oliver Twist was originally conceived as a satire on the new poor law of 1834 which herded the destitute and the helpless into harshly run union workhouses, and which was perceived by Dickens as a monstrously unjust and inhumane piece of legislation (he was still fiercely attacking it in Our Mutual Friend in 1865). Once the scene shifted to London, however, Oliver Twist developed into a unique and compelling blend of a 'realistic' tale about thieves and prostitutes and a melodrama with strong metaphysical overtones. The pathos of little Oliver (the first of many such child figures in Dickens), the farcical comedy of the Bumbles, the sinister fascination of Fagin, the horror of Nancy's murder, and the powerful evocation of London's dark and labyrinthine criminal underworld, all helped to drive Dickens' popularity to new heights" (ODNB).

"When Bentley decided to publish Oliver in book form before its completion in his periodical, Cruikshank had to complete the last few plates in haste. Dickens did not review them until the eve of publication and objected to the Fireside plate which depicted Oliver at Rose Maylie's knee [Volume III, p. 313]… Dickens had Cruikshank design a new plate… This Church plate was not completed in time for incorporation into the early copies of the book, but it replaced the Fireside plate in later copies… Dickens not only objected to the Fireside plate, but also disliked having 'Boz' on the title page. He voiced these objections prior to publication and the plate and title page were changed between November 9 and 16" (Smith, 35). With half titles for Volumes I and II, four pages of publisher's ads at the end of Volume I and two pages of publisher's ads at the beginning of Volume III. Without list of plates in Volume I, no priority. "A genuine first issue in the original cloth covers, uncut, and with clean, unfoxed plates and leaves is very rare" (Eckel, 54). Smith 4 (especially note 3). Eckel, 51-60. Owner booklabel; bookseller label in Volume III.

Text generally clean, a few plates, especially in Volume III, mildly embrowned. Short closed tear to frontispiece of Volume I. Cloth rubbed and toned; Volume III only with minor repairs to joints, other volumes sound and unrestored. A very good copy in the original cloth.

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