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A Tale of Two Cities review á 109 Of London they are drawn against their will to the vengeful bloodstained streets of Paris at the height of the Reign of Terror and they soon fall under the lethal shadow of La Guillotine It was the best of times it was the worst of times it was the age of wisdom it was the age of foolishness it was the spring of hope it was the winter of despair So begins A Tale of Two Cities a perennial favourite It was an instant success when it was first published and its popularity has remained steady ever since as one of the best selling novels of all time For many it is their most loved novel by Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens s second shortest completed novel possibly his tightest plotted and most dramatic novel yet in many ways it is the least Dickensian It is one of only two historical novels Dickens ever wrote and he wanted to try out a few new ways of writing to celebrate the launch of his new periodical At this time Dickens felt very at home in France speaking French fluently and identifying so much with the French character that he sometimes viewed himself as almost a Frenchman in exile He despised any parochial or narrow minded thinking he might see in English people and freuently poked fun at them in his writing He travelled extensively and wherever he went he carried his friend Thomas Carlyle s History of the French Revolution published in 1837 with him reading it over and over again Dickens jokingly claimed to have read the book 500 times In truth he admired and revered his friend rather than the feeling being reciprocated Carlyle tended to view Dickens as a mere novelist But Dickens was determined to meticulously research the historical background to his latest work and used Carlyle s book as a reference source Attempting to imbue his new way of writing with gravitas Dickens tried to curb or at least subdue some of his own habits of fanciful imagination After criticism of his earlier slips in Barnaby Rudge he had resolved to make this account although fictionalised an historically accurate a portrayal as possible Along with the less discursive style he paid less reliance on character development and humour both usual indicators of his style Some readers maintain they do not associate Dickens with humour and I personally feel that that is due in large part to their familiarity with his later works especially this one If this is the only Dickens novel one has read it is possible to miss much of its uirky humour A Tale of Two Cities has been dramatised countless times and in common with many others I am drawn to each dramatisation The story is a violent and bloody one with acts of heroism and intrigue secrets and lies imprisonment and torture sorrow and loss terror and madness panic and frenzy It describes in detail the depth of depravity a human can sink to and also instances the pinnacle of an almost unimaginable force for compassion and altruism The characters once read about here stay in the mind for ever they are spell binding whether good or evil There is much mystery and the development of the story is so tightly plotted that the tension mounts to almost unbearable limits The horrors described are both explicit and totally believeable After much thought then I have rated it five stars A story which endures and continues to be retold with images which permeate each new generation s consciousness which is so powerfully written and can move the reader to tears each time they read it deserves no less Do I like it No not really I have to steel myself to read this each time But then I don t enjoy Dostoevsky either and Dickens was one of his favourite writers So this takes nothing away from my reluctant admiration for the novel It is a deeply spiritual work with the main theme of resurrection sitting very firmly in a Christian context Being recalled to life is a major theme throughout the novel in fact Dickens at one time considered using Recalled to Life as the book s title Buried how long The answer was always the same Almost eighteen years You had abandoned all hope of being dug out Long ago You know that you are recalled to life They tell me so Of course the story is shrouded in mystery Recalled to life refers to several strands and episodes in the story as well as being a metaphor It is possible to enjoy the story without necessarily picking up uite how embedded in the novel all the Christian references are One might see a vaguely spiritual thread of redemption running through and an idea of a better future life without picking up on the myriad references to blood river cleansing water shrouds love light and golden threads binding families together Take one tiny but telling detail at the climax of the book The murmuring of many voices the upturning of many faces the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd so that it swells forward in a mass like one great heave of water all flashes away Twenty Three What if anything might the number 23 signify The 23rd Psalm possibly A psalm which is often understood by Christians as an allusion to the eternal life given by Christ In the story it refers to view spoilerSidney Carton sacrificing himself to the guillotine in the final scene In other words the 23rd victim is a Christ figure who is willingly executed by massed crowds baying for blood in the culmination His death thus serves to save the lives of others ensuring that his own life gains meaning and value hide spoiler

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A Tale of Two Cities review á 109 After eighteen years as a political prisoner in the Bastille the ageing Doctor Manette is finally released and reunited with his daughter in England There the lives of two very different Hundreds thousands of stories long to have a uotable verse just one Tale of Two Cities Dickens masterpiece as far as I m concerned is bookended by two of the most recognizable uotes in all of English language This is also the darkest story I have read of his and no doubt it s about the bloody French Revolution and Dickens spares none of his acerbic wit to demonize what was rightly demonic Yet to his credit and genius neither does he sugar coat the great social injustices that led irresolutely to the collapse of the aristocratic French class Lacking his usual humor again understandable this nonetheless again displays his mastery of characterization No character is as complete and now archetypal as Madame Defarge I thought that Bill Sykes was his greatest villain but Citizeness Defarge was simply a portrait of evil So many stories hope for a memorable scene and this has many highly influential since I thought of several works that had borrowed heavily from TOTC themes especially Doctor Zhivago many allusions to TOTC and that also made me wonder was TOTC the first dystopian novel The scene between Madame Defarge and Ms Pross was stunning and made me think of the riveting scene between Porfiry and Raskolnikov in Dostoyevsky s Crime and Punishment Brilliant

Charles Dickens Æ 9 summary

A Tale of Two Cities review á 109 Men Charles Darnay an exiled French aristocrat and Sydney Carton a disreputable but brilliant English lawyer become enmeshed through their love for Lucie Manette From the tranuil roads Charles Dickens is a demanding writer The narratives of Great Expectations and Oliver Twist are relaxed and simple when compared to this Reading Dickens reuires concentration and a will to carry on when sometimes the writing gives you a headache This is a historical novel Dickens tells the story of the storming of the Bastille some fifty years after it happened Unlike most of his work all traces of humour are removed There are no caricatures and uirkiness within his writing This is all very serious material which of course it needs to be But for me this is what Dickens does best His ability to juxtapose themes of human suffering poverty and deprivation with ideas of the grotesue ridiculous and at times the plain mad are where his real master strokes of penmanship come throughThat s what I like the most about Dickens so I knew my enjoyment of this very serious novel would be hindered immediately What we do have though is a strong revenge plot running through the book and the revolt which occurred two thirds of the way in And like the name of the book suggests this is a tale about two cities London and Paris Dickens loved to criticise society and all its stupid aristocratic nuances Here he takes great pains to show that London is no symbol of societal perfection The aftermath of the French revolution placed the British on a pedestal at least to their own minds They could not believe that their own current systems of ruling could cause such a travesty within their own capital Dickens shows that the men in power were just as corrupt and corruptible wherever they sit revolution can happen again I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss I see the lives for which I lay down my life peaceful useful prosperous and happy I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts and in the hearts of their descendants generations hence It is a far far better thing that I do than I have ever done it is a far far better rest that I go to than I have ever known The streets of Paris are seen before and after the bloodshed and all the strands of seemingly unrelated plots are artfully perhaps slightly forcefully woven together Dickens brings the lives of a huge cast of characters spanning over two cities and two nations all of which have a varied station in life and political beliefs into one final conclusion And it s a strong conclusion though heavily reliant of coincident This is nothing unusual for fiction of the Victorian era though it did feel very much like a construct The modernists would address such issues in the next century mainly to criticise them heavily due to their incapability at capturing the essence of life within fiction Perhaps they have a point here So this is a very strong story one that is highly perceptive and intuitive at times As a reader I need a certain degree of entertainment when reading I find that the wonderfully comic elements that are in some of Dickens other books help to break up the intense moments of the plot Even Jane Austen would interpose her narrative with moments of scathing sarcasm and wit For me this is far from the finest work of Dickens despite the fact that it seems to be his most popular

  • Paperback
  • 489
  • A Tale of Two Cities
  • Charles Dickens
  • English
  • 22 October 2018
  • 9780141439600