Fagan [sic] and Oliver Twist
Felix O. C. Darley
11.4 by 10 cm vignetted
Dickens's Oliver Twist, as realised in Character Sketches from Dickens (1888).
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Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.
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Oliver held up the bottom of the pocket with one hand, as he had seen the Dodger hold it, and drew the handkerchief lighty out of it with the other.
"Is it gone?" cried the Jew.
"Here it is, sir," said Oliver, showing it in his hand.
"You're a clever boy, my dear,' said the playful old gentleman, patting Oliver on the head approvingly. "I never saw a sharper lad. Here's a shilling for you. If you go on, in this way, you'll be the greatest man of the time. And now come here, and I'll show you how to take the marks out of the handkerchiefs."
Oliver wondered what picking the old gentleman's pocket in play, had to do with his chances of being a great man. — Chapter 9: "Containing Further Particulars Concerning the Pleasant Old Gentleman, and His Hopeful Pupils", vol. 1 of the Household Edition, p. 108-109.
Although Dickens's official illustrator for Oliver Twist, George Cruikshank depicts the fence Fagin as a stereotypical villain out of melodrama, the figure whom Darley describes is very much an individual. In the chapter 7 illustration which depicts Oliver's initiation into Fagin's den, Oliver Introduced to the Respctable Old Gentleman, the criminal mastermind controls the warmth and light of the cooking fire (left) as Oliver enters. Darley has not made the fence's control of these creature comforts quite so obvious, for no other waifs occupy his scene. In Oliver's Reception by Fagin and the Boys, Cruikshank emphasizes Fagin's girth even as he makes him a static figure, whereas Darley gives us an animated and even playful Jew with a much thinner figure appropriate to one raised in the East End slums. The engaging scene is consistent with Fagin's self-identification with the Good Samaritan of the New Testament parable, and Dickens's consistently alluding to him as"the Pleasant Old Gentleman," even though this characterization is ironic. The illustrations by James Mahoney in the Household Edition and by Harry Furniss in the Charles Dickens Library Edition (1871 and 1910 respectively) are realistic responses to Cruikshank's originals. Perhaps as a reaction to accusations of antisemitism in the portrait of Fagin, Furniss has downplayed the figure of the master criminal, emphasizing that of "bully boy" Bill Sikes.
Relevant Chapman & Hall (1837), Diamond Edition (1867), Household Edition (1877), and Charles Dickens Library Edition (1910) Illustrations
Left: Cruikshank's "Oliver's Reception by Fagin and the Boys". Right: Cruikshank's Oliver Introduced to the Respectable Old Gentleman". [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Left: Sol Eytinge, Jr.'s "Fagin" (1867). Centre: Mahoney's Household Edition illustration (1871) "What's become of the boy?". Right: Harry Furniss's "The Thieves' Kitchen" (1910). [Click on images to enlarge them.]
Bentley, Nicolas, Michael Slater, and Nina Burgis. The Dickens Index. New York and Oxford: Oxford U. P., 1990.
Bolton, Theodore. The Book Illustrations of Felix Octavius Carr Darley (1951). Worcester, Mass: American Antiquarian Society, 1952.
Darley, Felix Octavius Carr. Character Sketches from Dickens. Philadelphia: Porter and Coates, 1888.
Dickens, Charles. The Adventures of Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress. Illustrated by George Cruikshank. London: Chapman and Hall, 1846.
Dickens, Charles. The Adventures of Oliver Twist. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. 55 vols. Illustrated by F. O. C. Darley and John Gilbert. New York: Sheldon and Co., 1865. 2 vols.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Works of Charles Dickens. Diamond Edition. 18 vols. Illustrated by Sol Eytinge, Jr. Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1867.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. Illustrated by James Mahoney. London: Chapman and Hall, 1871.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. Works of Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens Library Edition. Illustrated by Harry Furniss. London: Educational Book Company, 1910.
F. O. C.
Last updated 23 March 2016