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Oliver Twist

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Lingua: inglese
Lunghezza: circa 163200 parole (tempo di lettura: 510-742 minuti)
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Chapter 1

Treats of the place where oliver twist was born and of the circumstances attending his birth

    Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

    For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.

    Although I am not disposed to maintain that the being born in a workhouse, is in itself the most fortunate and enviable circumstance that can possibly befall a human being, I do mean to say that in this particular instance, it was the best thing for Oliver Twist that could by possibility have occurred. The fact is, that there was considerable difficulty in inducing Oliver to take upon himself the office of respiration,--a troublesome practice, but one which custom has rendered necessary to our easy existence; and for some time he lay gasping on a little flock mattress, rather unequally poised between this world and the next: the balance being decidedly in favour of the latter. Now, if, during this brief period, Oliver had been surrounded by careful grandmothers, anxious aunts, experienced nurses, and doctors of profound wisdom, he would most inevitably and indubitably have been killed in no time. There being nobody by, however, but a pauper old woman, who was rendered rather misty by an unwonted allowance of beer; and a parish surgeon who did such matters by contract; Oliver and Nature fought out the point between them. The result was, that, after a few struggles, Oliver breathed, sneezed, and proceeded to advertise to the inmates of the workhouse the fact of a new burden having been imposed upon the parish, by setting up as loud a cry as could reasonably have been expected from a male infant who had not been possessed of that very useful appendage, a voice, for a much longer space of time than three minutes and a quarter.

    As Oliver gave this first proof of the free and proper action of his lungs, the patchwork coverlet which was carelessly flung over the iron bedstead, rustled; the pale face of a young woman was raised feebly from the pillow; and a faint voice imperfectly articulated the words, 'Let me see the child, and die.'

    The surgeon had been sitting with his face turned towards the fire: giving the palms of his hands a warm and a rub alternately. As the young woman spoke, he rose, and advancing to the bed's head, said, with more kindness than might have been expected of him:

    'Oh, you must not talk about dying yet.'


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:: Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was born at Seaport on February 1812 and moved to London in 1814 with his father, a government clerk, in needy circumstances. He received a somewhat scanty education, but secured knowledge for himself by reading.
Dickens's father was imprisoned for debt, his wife and children, with the exception of Charles, who was employed as a bottle-washer in a blacking warehouse, joined him in the Marshalsea Prison.
When the family finances were put at least partly to rights and his father was released, the twelve year old Dickens, already scarred psychologically by the experience, was further wounded by his mother's insistence that he continued to work at the factory.
Later he became a clerk in an attorney's office and, improving his shorthand, he became a newspaper reporter. He also contributed humorous pieces to a magazine.
In 1835 he met and became engaged to Catherine Hogarth.
In 1836 an editor engaged the new writer to prepare a series of comic sketches on sporting subjects and suggested, as a subject, the adventures of an eccentric club. The result was the immortal Pickwick Papers published, as were many of Dickens's novels, in monthly parts.
The Pickwick Papers continued through November 1837, and it became an enormous popular success.
Dickens proceeded to marry Catherine Hogarth in 1836.
His great genius now fully appeared and his fame rose to its highest point. He then wrote Oliver Twist, a picture of criminal life, which exposed the conduct of workhouses and initiated that vein of pathos and satire on institutions that became a characteristic of his stories.
Next appeared Nicholas Nickleby (1838), which severely criticized the management of cheap boarding schools and The old curiosity shop (1840-1841), a blend of sadness and humour.
After finishing Barnaby Rudge (1841), Dickens set off for America. He went full of enthusiasm for the young republic but, in spite of triumphant reception, he returned disillusioned.
His experiences are recorded in American Notes (1842) and in Martin Chuzzlewit.
The series of Christmas books appeared in 1843, the most popular tales being A Christmas Carol, The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth.
After a long visit to Italy in 1844 Dickens produced Pictures from Italy. Next followed the semi-autobiographical novel, David Copperfield, perhaps Dickens's greatest work.
In later works, such as Bleak House (1853) and Little Dorrit (1857), Dickens's social criticism became more radical and his comedy more savage.
In 1850 he started the weekly periodical Household Words, succeeded in 1859 by All the year round; in these he published A tale of two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1861) and other less important novels up to the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood, which was being published as usual in instalments when Dickens suddenly died in 1870, in London, physically and nervously exhausted by the strain of his enormous activity.
Public grief at his death was considerable and he was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.

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