Page:Works of Charles Dickens, ed. Lang - Volume 3.djvu/20

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INTRODUCTION.

most appositely answered some reviewers by a quotation from Tom Jones; "the young critics of the age, the clerks, apprentices, etc., called it low, and fell a-groaning."

The book appeared in three volumes in October, 1838. Cruikshank's designs may satisfy admirers of Cruikshank. That artist told an American interviewer how his illustrations suggested the story. To put it mildly, this tale was "a hallucination of memory." Cruikshank's idea of Oliver, with his preternaturally long nose, prejudices the reader unjustly against a boy who, of the two sorts of boys as classified by Mr. Grimwig, is undeniably "mealy." In later works, Dickens shines in his boys; Oliver is of another and more sentimental type.

Oliver Twist needs but two or three notes. We do not know why the Dodger used "Morrice" as a synonym for " make haste," but Dickens here usually explains the little thieves' slang that he permits himself to use. He had none of the pedantry of realism, and his thieves are understood to be obscene and blasphemous without examples in the manner of Zola. On one point Henry Kingsley descried a puzzle. Why was Fagin hanged? As an "accessory before the fact" of Nancy's murder, is the reply ; but the crime could not easily have been brought home, except by poetical justice.

ANDREW LANG.