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"It is, it seems, a very coarse and shocking circumstance, that some of the characters in [Oliver Twist] are chosen from the most criminal and degraded of London's population; that Sikes is a thief, and Fagin a receiver of stolen goods; that the boys are pickpockets, and the girl is a prostitute. I confess I have yet to learn that a lesson of the purest good may not be drawn from the vilest evil. I have always believed this to be a recognised and established truth, laid down by the greatest men the world has ever seen, constantly acted upon by the best and wisest natures, and confirmed by the reason and experience of every thinking mind… Every man who has watched these melancholy shades of life knows it to be so. Suggested to my mind long ago -- long before I dealt in fiction -- by what I often saw and read of, in actual life around me, I have, for years, tracked it through many profligate and noisome ways, and found it still the same… It is emphatically God's truth, for it is the truth."


Charles Dickens, 1841

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