Download the book Oliver Twist was published in 1838 as a three volume book. The novel was the first of Dickens' works to realistically portray the degradation and impoverishment of the London underworld and its denizens. Dickens utilises the environment and characters to illustrate his belief that poverty leads to crime. The plot of this novel centres around and follows the journey of the parish boy "Oliver Twist." Oliver has been in the parish orphanage all his short life, a place overcrowded and constantly short of food. When Oliver has the temerity to ask for more after the evening meal of gruel he astonishes and horrifies the parish board and the parish beadle. They promptly sell him on to the local undertaker for the princely sum of 5 pounds. Oliver runs away and thus the journey begins! Oliver is drawn unwittingly into the London criminal underworld by a superbly characterised pickpocket; one known as 'The Artful Dodger' a streetwise, flamboyant boy who is a master at his craft. He is introduced to the unscrupulous Jew named 'Fagin' who controls the complete gang of pickpockets and ruffians. Oliver is uncomfortable in this den of iniquity and absconds, he is sheltered by a man who spots something about Oliver's demeanour and features which lead him to investigate his parentage. Before long Oliver is retaken by the bullying, insensitive criminal housebreaker 'Bill Sykes' and once more finds himself caught in Fagin's coils. As the plot unwinds we meet many finely drawn good and bad characters, and the vivid descriptions of the seamier side of London in that period are superlative.