By Charles Dickens
"It used to be the simplest of occasions, it was once the worst of instances . . ."
With those well-known phrases, Charles Dickens plunges the reader into one in all history’s such a lot explosive erasthe French Revolution. From the storming of the Bastille to the relentless drop of the guillotine, Dickens vividly captures the phobia and upheaval of that tumultuous interval.
At the guts is the novel’s hero, Sydney Carton, a lazy, alcoholic legal professional who, encouraged by way of a girl, makes the ideally suited sacrifice at the bloodstained streets of Paris.
One of Dickens’s most enjoyable novels, A story of 2 Cities is a stirring vintage of affection, revenge, and resurrection.
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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Cities (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
80-81). In the preface to his gripping novel of mob violence, Dickens acknowledges his debt to Thomas Carlyle舗s dramatic history, The French Revolution (1837). Carlyle was the first writer to convincingly evoke the world-historical energies of the event itself, which transformed not only France, but dragged all Europe into a maelstrom of war and political upheaval from which eventually emerged the modern nation-states of the continent we recognize today. Carlyle舗s swirling tumultuous prose, full of breathless outrages and bloody imagery, is a true revolutionary register, and Dickens knew well he could not improve upon it.
Dickens drew much historical detail for the Paris sections of the novel from Louis-Sȳbastien Mercier舗s twelve-volume Le Tableau de Paris (1781-1788). In an essay entitled 舠Spies,舡 Mercier describes how, in the 1780s 舠the Parisian . . was surrounded . . by spies . . 舡 Historians舗 estimates for the numbers of government agents in Paris alone range up to three thousand. And as Barsad舗s unsuccessful infiltration of Saint-Antoine shows, Parisians were equally on their guard against foreign spies.
With an inconsistency as monstrous as anything in this awful nightmare, they had helped the healer, and tended the wounded man with the gentlest solicitude舒had made a litter for him and escorted him carefully from the spot舒had then caught up their weapons and plunged anew into a butchery so dreadful, that the Doctor had covered his eyes with his hands, and swooned away in the midst of it (p. 269). In many of Dickens舗s novels, it is children who experience the keenest terror, trapped in an adult world of violent caprice and cynicism in which they have no power to defend themselves.