Review | A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

#QOTD – Did you hate an author when you were young, but have grown up to appreciate his / her works?

Charles Dickens, is that author for me! I used to hate him. The first book I read by him was Oliver Twist, and oh my, the plot in that book would have made anyone depressed of his or her life! I mean, I never understood why each and everyone one of his protagonists has to be an orphan! Then I read Great Expectations, as it was part of my course! It was very interesting with all the twists, but it shattered the London image for me! Every piece of literature or film had portrayed London as a world where only the most successful go and where all things are possible, whereas Dicken painted the picture of London as ‘rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty.’ Why did he have to spoil all things good!

Lately, I have come to appreciate Dickensian literature, although he makes me feel illiterate with his Victorian English! I am picking more of his books and trying to get into the depths of his works. Recently, I picked up A Tale of Two Cities, an 1859 historical novel by Dickens set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.

A dense cast of characters populates the two cities mentioned in the title, namely London and Paris. Although Paris has a much more prominent role, and it’s curious why when you think of Dickens you think of London. In London, the events of Dr. Manette, freed after 18 years in the Bastille, and of his lost daughter Lucie, disputed by three bold young men, alternate in Paris with those of the owners of a shop, Monsieur and Madame Defarge, at the head of the rebel movements who plan a bloody revenge against the rich and powerful. Obviously the background of the events is the French Revolution, with all the contradictions announced by Dickens already in the first words of the novel. Consequently, even the innocent will pay for freedom.

A Tale of Two Cities opens with one of the best known Dickensian incipits ever, perhaps among the most famous in the history of world literature, so my review of the same would be incomplete if I don’t put that in.

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 epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Chapter 1, A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Pick this book up. Make notes while reading it. (I always need notes while reading Dickens.) I am sure you all will love it!

3 thoughts on “Review | A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  1. To be honest, even I used to feel that Dickens was boring. But a few months ago, after I re-read ‘David Copperfield’, it seemed quite fascinating! I’ll surely read “A Tale of Two Cities”. Your review seems interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

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