Dickens, like Shakespeare, is one of those rare writers who has always appealed to a wide variety of readers. Many of Dickens’s books were published, one part at a time, in popular magazines of the day. Whenever a new installment of a Dickens novel appeared, people of all social and economic classes rushed out to discover what had happened to their favorite characters. Scholars estimate that for every book or magazine copy sold, ten people read or heard the story. Dickens’s novels are still amazingly popular among both casual readers and scholars. Academic articles and books on Dickens appear at a rate surpassed only by Shakespearean criticism.
Oliver Twist offers typical Dickensian pleasures. The author creates situations and incidents that are incredibly funny, delightfully touching, and feverishly exciting. His language amazes with its aptness and honesty. Dickens’s realistic descriptions of loathsome places and evil characters brought criticism from his fellow Victorians, many of whom preferred to avoid any knowledge of their society’s imperfections. Despite his unforgettable portraits of the underside of Victorian England, Dickens presents a world governed by morality, in which both honest and dishonest characters receive their due. In Oliver Twist and all of his works, Dickens deals realistically and profoundly with social and moral issues that remain relevant today.