Read a tale of two cities by Charles Dickens Online


'Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; -- the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!' 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 men, Charles Darnay, an exiled French aristocrat, and Sydney Carton, a disreputable but'Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; -- the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!'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 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 tranquil roads 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.This edition uses the text as it appeared in its serial publication in 1859 to convey the full scope of Dickens's vision, and includes the original illustrations by H. K. Browne ('Phiz'). Richard Maxwell's introduction discusses the intricate interweaving of epic drama with personal tragedy.--back cover...

Title : a tale of two cities
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ISBN : 8454441
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 193 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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a tale of two cities Reviews

  • Melissa Rudder
    2019-05-11 23:36

    My primary goal when I'm teaching A Tale of Two Cities to my sophomores is to make them realize that Charles Dickens didn't write creaky, dusty long novels that teachers embraced as a twisted rite of passage for teenagers. Instead, I want them them to understand why Dickens was one of the most popular writers in England and America during his time. I want them to see the book as the suspenseful, comedic, and sentimental piece of entertainment that it is. Because, while A Tale of Two Cities is masterfully written with sly humor, densely meaningful descriptions, a cast of quirky characters only Dickens could create, an endless series of telling binaries and foils, and relevant social commentary about the French Revolution as well as Dickens' time, it is also simply a damn good story. By a damn good storyteller. I have a difficult time writing reviews about books that I adore because, when I'm not reading them, I hug them too closely to be very critical. (BTW - I frequently hug A Tale of Two Cities in front of my students... and write Charles Dickens' name with hearts around it... They think I'm crazy, but it intrigues some of them just enough to make them doubt the derisive comments of upperclassmen.) I reluctantly admit that Dickens does oversimplify the causes of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror; however, in doing so, he successfully captures the spirit of a tumultuous period and helps readers sympathize with characters on every side of the developing conflict. I also think that the characters of Roger Cly and John Barsad get a bit messy and may have worked better as a single character. Perhaps the confusion is a result of serialization restructuring. But, really, I read A Tale of Two Cities like a costumed Lord of the Rings fan at a movie premier. I cheer when my favorite characters enter scenes and I knowingly laugh when Dickens cleverly foreshadows future events. Though I don't think that A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens' best novel--that title I would reserve for either Bleak House or David Copperfield--I do agree with Dickens, who claims that it was his best story. It is artfully written. Dickens introduces a cast of characters, sprawled across two nations and spanning varied social classes and political affiliations, and then effortlessly weaves their stories and secrets together in a masterful way. The Modernist movement painstakingly forced literature to reflect the ambiguities and uncertainties of the real world and that's great, but sometimes it is a real joy to read a story that ends with such magnificent closure. All mysteries are solved and everything makes sense. It is beautiful.(I have to admit that I was overjoyed when a group of my fifth period girls persistently voiced their disdain for Dickens' angel in the house Lucie and backed Madame Defarge. I think they may have created a Madame Defarge myspace, actually. Oh how the times have changed.)"Ms. R--, you got me." "What?" "At the beginning of this book, you said you would get some of us. And that we would love it. You got me." I didn't get you G--. Charles Dickens did. I just introduced you.Quote:"A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other."

  • Emma
    2019-05-09 17:49

    Christ on a bike - I’d forgotten how much concentration Dickens demands.   Reading the first few chapters of this book was, frankly, a chore. I could not be less bothered about The Mail and the more Dickens banged on about that never ending carriage journey the more I daydreamed about the next book I was going to read once this torture was over. I’m glad I didn’t give up though because as soon as we hit France and the wine shop I was hooked, the pace started to pick up and there were mysteries and revelations galore. There is so much in this book.  It would take me a month to provide anything other than a quick and dirty overview - which I can't really do either. Just think London/revolutionary France 1775, unrequited love, revenge, a doppelgänger and la guillotine. I loved the gothic feel to the book, Jerry Crunchers body snatching, the remote settings, the macabre events, the parts of the book that gave me an uneasy feeling.  Right up my street. I fell for Sidney Carton pretty much straight away too.  Bohemian, brilliant, indifferent. J'adore Sidney Carton. Although we never find out exactly what is up with Sid; I wonder what would have become of him and how I would have viewed him had he not become a hero. A few main characters were also a little too underdeveloped for me to connect with them.  Lucie Manette left me feeling ‘meh’.  She links nearly every character in the book and inspires love in seemingly every direction but whilst likable enough, there is no depth and certainly not my type of heroine.  But, I guess this was written in 1859 and Lucie is, I suppose, the type of heroine that would appeal to the readers of the time.  Madame Defarge, the antithesis of Lucie, on the other hand is marvellous.  Clearly the villain of the piece, cold, consumed by revenge and not really even human by the end of the book but still, enthralling stuff. I think Dickens achieves a good balance with the historical telling of the revolution but perhaps was a little unfair to Madame Defarge, her motives and back story being revealed far too late in the book. Overall though, I got an awful lot out of a Tale of Two Cities; I'm still heartbroken over Sidney's final thoughts and his vision of a better Paris 'fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day's disfigurement'; The defarges, with their Macbeth and Lady Macbeth qualities 'infirm of purpose, give me the daggers' - possibly the greatest dickens characters I've ever read - were awful and captivating; The oppression of the peasants, their plight and the awfulness of the revolution carefully told with historical accuracy.  The only reason a Tale of Two Cities didn't get five stars is because of that bloody awful carriage ride.  

  • Michelle
    2019-04-23 18:28

    I first read this in high school as a substitute for "Oliver Twist" which was not in my high school library catalog (it was in the elementary school catalog). Come to think of it now, I have never read that book. Weird... If ever I get a chance to meet "high-school-me", I bet she will be over the moon and back to know that the world is her library! Any book, on demand! I guess it would distract her enough not to realize she's living an almost hermetic way of life. Anyway... "A Tale of Two Cities" is, once again, one of those books I have read when I was too young to understand. I still struggle reading this book, but this time around, it generated more empathy from me. Charles Dickens wrote this novel long after the French revolution but it was still timely. Centuries later, in the here and now, it's major themes still hold true. Any generation, in my opinion, could start their story with, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...."Dickens explores human emotions and reactions that aren’t specific to any one historical event. Human suffering isn’t simply an 18th-century French problem. The novel, with all of the poverty and injustice it displays, is an exploration of conditions that will persist just as long as violence and inequity continue to flourish.Although this book is a major social critique, it’s also an exploration of the limits of human justice. What is justice really? When does justice start becoming injustice? It provokes big questions and they’re still pretty relevant today. Can you imagine a country in which innocent people are persecuted for their political view? The closer I look, the more the false imprisonment of Dr. Manette or Charles Darnay becomes something that we deal with in the real world, as well as the fictional one. "A Tale of Two Cities" is also a meditation on some of the most pressing existential questions that trouble humankind. Do we really know anything at all about the people around us, even the people we love? Can a single life make a difference in a world filled with hatred, rage, and violence? Times of strife make these questions all the more pressing to answer, but, as Dickens reminds us, that doesn’t mean that the answers are easy to find.This was difficult to read but it still managed to captivate me and forgo doing the dishes. I'm quite happy to give this book another chance. Books that disappointed me before might change my mind at some point in my life. As always, I don't confuse my own lack of sympathy with the assumption that, if I don't get it, the book is necessarily flawed. I think that's why classics endure

  • Leslie
    2019-05-14 22:34

    Most satisfying ending in the English language. Yes, the last line is a classic ("It is a far, far better thing ..."), concluding, in astonishingly concise language (for Dickens), the peace and redemption of the story's most poignant romantic hero. But this novel delivers such a gratifying experience because there are, in fact, many characters who cover significant emotional ground in their journey to love one woman as best they can. Lucie's father battles his way back from madness under the gentle protection of his daughter. Lucie's childhood nursemaid evolves from a comical stereotype to an embattled force to be reckoned with. Lucie's husband's well-meaning (if bland) noblesse oblige culminates in -- not his hoped-for heroic moment, but a moment of quiet dignity that is most moving for its humility. Even Lucie's banker reaches dizzying heights of heroic accomplishment when Dickens appoints the quiet businessman the vehicle for an entire family's escape from the guillotine.It is true that Lucie herself engages the reader less than her brutal counterpart -- the broken but terrifying Madame Defarge -- is able to, as modern readers are less moved by the swooning heroines who populate the period's "literature of sensibility." But we can certainly respond to Dickens' powerful and vivid claim: love is not only what makes us human, it is what allows us to be, at times, superhuman.And when Sydney Carton, in equal parts love and despair, tells Lucie that "there is a man who would give his life to keep a life you love beside you" ... ? I go to pieces. Every damn time.

  • Lyn
    2019-05-06 21:44

    Hundreds, thousands of stories long to have a quotable verse, just one. Tale of Two Cities, Dickens masterpiece as far as I'm concerned, is bookended by two of the most recognizable quotes 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.

  • Laura
    2019-04-18 19:41

    Years of teaching this novel to teenagers never dimmed my thrill in reading it — if anything, I grew to love it more every time I watched kids gasp aloud at the revelations! Critics are divided on its place in the Dickens canon, but the ones who think it an inferior work are simply deranged. It has everything: dark deeds, revolution, madness, love, thwarted love, forgiveness, revenge, and a stunning act of self-sacrifice. And melodrama! Oh, how Dickens loved melodrama, but in A Tale of Two Cities it reaches truly grand proportions. It’s the ultimate mystery novel: characters act strangely, but always for a reason. Miscellaneous people drift in and out, but they’re not truly miscellaneous — you just have to wait to see how they’re connected. And like any good mystery, the payoff at the end is worth the time it takes to get there...and what a payoff! Dickens is a master of the type of narration that simultaneously moves forward and back in time. In other words, strategically placed revelations from the past inform the present and shape the future. The brilliant timing both of his hints and of the actual revelations is a bonus field of study. Merely the drama of the dark past and its impact on the “here and now” story is thrilling enough. Plus, A Tale of Two Cities is a profoundly moral story, with themes of vengeance versus forgiveness, sins of the fathers being visited on the children, resurrection and rebirth, and the possibility of redemption.

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-05-11 19:47

    Charles Dickens is a demanding writer. The narratives ofGreat Expectations andOliver Twistare relaxed and simple when compared to this. Reading Dickens requires 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 quirkiness 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 grotesque, ridiculous and, at times, the plain mad, are where his real master strokes of penmanship come through.That’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 more 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.

  • فهد الفهد
    2019-05-17 01:48

    قصة مدينتين استعرت هذه الرواية من مكتبة الجامعة في بداية الألفية، كان ذلك قبل عالم الانترنت، عندما كنا لا نلتقي ولا نتعرف على الكتب ومشاهير المؤلفين إلا من خلال الصحف أو الكتب التي تسقط بين أيدينا اتفاقاً، ديكنز كان مألوفاً لي حينها، كنت قد قرأت له دايفد كوبرفيلد، وأعرف موقعه كروائي إنجليزي عظيم. حصلت على الكتاب الضخم، المغلف من قبل الجامعة بغلاف صلب، والمختوم مراراً كجواز سائح كوني، كنت غراً حينها، جديد على كل العوالم التي أمامي، فلذا حملت النسخة الضخمة محاولاً قراءتها خلال مهلة اليومين التي تمنحها الجامعة للكتب النادرة – قبل أن تبدأ الغرامات القاسية -، ولكن هذه المهمة كانت أكبر مني، فلذا اضطررت لإعادة الكتاب بعدما عبرت بداياته فقط، فيما بقيت صفحات طويلة وعدت نفسي بقراءتها يوماً ما. وجاء... ذلك الـ (يوماً ما) جاء، صحيح أنه تأخر قليلاً، ولكن لم يكن ذلك لأن يدي قصيرة عن الوصول إلى مدينتي ديكنز، وإنما لأن نهراً من الكتب جرفني من يومها، لقد تفتق العالم لي بعدها كما يتفتق لطفل قروي، لا يعرف أبعد من بيت أهله، ووجوه أهله، ثم يحمل ذات ليلة ليرمى في ميدان عاصمة، كل تلك الوجوه، كل تلك الألوان، الروائح، الناس الذاهبة والآيبة، كل تلك الأحداث، تربكه، تنزع توازنه، وفهمه لما حوله. وفي ذاكرتي، وعلى مر كل تلك السنوات، تداعت كلمات الكتاب وصوره ومشاهده، تحلل كل ما قرأته، بقي في ذاكرتي فقط وأنا أجذبه من رقدته بين مؤلفات كل أولئك الإنجليز العظماء، وصف مذهل لشارع قديم، كان ديكنز يأخذنا عبره، ليصعد بنا علية ما، حيث يقبع عجوز ما !! كان هذا كل ما بقي. عانى ديكنز في طفولته كثيراً، لم يتلق تعليماً جيداً، وحتى المدرسة المتواضعة التي ذهب إليها، سحب منها على عجل ليعمل لعشر ساعات يومياً، بعدما سجن والده لتراكم الديون عليه، والتحقت به والدته في السجن، وهو نظام غريب مطبق حينها !! هذه الأم ديكنز يشعر بأنها لا توليه العناية والاهتمام الكافيين، من هذه الظروف، ومن هذه المشاعر نلمس رؤية ديكنز ومواقفه تجاه الفقراء، وحقوق الأطفال، وتجاه المرأة. في هذه الرواية يبدو ديكنز مقارناً، بين مدينتين، باريس ولندن، نظامين ثوري وملكي، قضاءين ثوري ورسمي، وفي روايته التي كتبها مسلسلة، ونشرها في الصحف كما كان يفعل كتاب عصره، والتي لها سمات وميزات ذاك العصر وأدبه المليء بالأبطال الفروسيين، والنساء الجميلات المعشوقات من الجميع، والمصادفات التي تقبلها بصدر رحب لتستمتع، لتمضي قدماً. إنه عصر الثورة، تبدأ الأحداث قبل الثورة الفرنسية بقليل، حيث نتعرف على الدكتور مانيت، المسجون ظلماً في الباستيل ولسنوات طويلة – 18 عاماً -، والذي نتابع في الفصول الأولى لقائه بابنته لوسي والتي لم يكن يعلم بوجودها، وها هي تستنقذ والدها بمساعدة الثوري الفرنسي دوفارج وزوجته، وتأخذه إلى إنجلترا. بعد 5 سنوات يستعيد فيها الأب عقله، وتتزوج لوسي من تشارلز دارني، وهو نبيل فرنسي تخلى عن نبالته وذهب ليعيش في إنجلترا، تقوم الثورة في فرنسا، ويعرض لنا ديكنز حال الفرنسيين قبل الثورة وطريقة تعامل النبلاء معهم بأسلوب مذهل، ديكنز مذهل بحق في سرده، ساخر عظيم، لا ريب أن قراءه كانوا يتشوقون لكل فصل من فصول روايته. ترد تشارلز دارني وهو هناك في أمان إنجلترا، رسالة من خادم سابق له سجن في الباستيل، فيهرع إلى باريس لينقذه، فيقع بيد الثوريين ويقدم للمحاكمة والإعدام، تسرع لوسي ووالدها لاستنقاذه، خاصة والدكتور مانيت أحد نزلاء الباستيل المخضرمين، وهذا ما يكسبه الاحترام بين الثوار، هذا خلاف خبرته الطبية المفيدة لهم، وشخصيته العظيمة. تدور القصة، وتتشابك الأحداث ويلتقي ويتصارع الأبطال في تلك البقعة من باريس، وتنكشف الألغاز، وتقدم التضحيات، ويتركك ديكنز في النهاية وفي ذهنك وروحك ذلكم الشعور الملحمي الجميل.

  • Kalliope
    2019-05-15 18:26

    A TALE OF TWO TALESReading Dickens’s approach to historical fiction, at first I could not help but remember Romola, which I read recently. And even if Romola seemed to have more of a Victorian than a Florentine Renaissance tone, the story and the context were very nicely woven together. While with A Tale I felt I as reading two separate stories. One was a the result of conscientious research, and Dickens in his Preface acknowledges Carlyle’s wonderful book, and the other was a more melodramatic tale with Gothic overtones. The two meanings of the word historia separated: history and story.May be it was because Dickens was dealing with a convulsive period that was still too close to him and his contemporaries. Its threats must have resonated with a greater echo after the 1848 revolutions that again swept through France as well as other European countries. When he wrote his novel only a decade had passed since that latest wave of violence and political turmoil. These more recent revolutions must have had the effect of a magnifying glass when Dickens read and reread Carlyle’s study, study which had, however, been written before, in 1837. One can certainly feel Dickens alarm at the dangers that loom over humanity. His horror came first, and then he tried to horrify his readers.And yet, as my reading proceeded, I began to feel how these two axis or needles were pulling out something together. And I think it is Dickens excellent writing, with his uses of repetitions, or anaphora; his complex set of symbols—and I am beginning to become familiar with the Dickens iconography; his idiosyncratic mixture of humour and drama; his use of alliteration and onomatopoeia; his extraordinary development of images—and I think this novel has some of the best I have read by him; and his ability to sustain a positive core within a great deal of drab, that succeeds in making those two needles knit something coherent and consistent.And indeed my favourite image was the Knitting, which Dickens develops throughout the novel, with all its mythological weight--that binds the threads of fate and volition, of patience and disquiet, of love and hatred--, which became for me also the knitting of the writer. The periodic and steady rhythm of Knit and Purl produced with threads of words, meshing in the melodrama and the emotions, the varying colours with their lights and shadows, increasing or decreasing the episodes with literary tricks such as adding a new thread or character or knitting two stiches in one go by solving a mystery. And this he achieved by handling with shrewd dexterity his two needles of ‘story’ and ‘history’, his two tales.So, as I came to the end I had to admit that , yes, the Tale of Two Tales has woven for me a magnificent novel. There has been somewhat of a 'Resurrection' in my reading too.

  • Jean
    2019-05-16 20:48

    “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 frequently 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 more 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 more 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 more 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 quirky 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 quite 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 spoiler)[Sidney 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)] The central message of the book is that sacrifice is necessary to achieve happiness, and this is a further pointer, reinforcing the idea. Dickens liked to make his meanings crystal clear.A Tale of Two Cities has 45 chapters, and was published in 31 weekly instalments to boost the sale of Charles Dickens’s new literary magazine, “All the Year Round”. Between April and November 1859, Dickens also republished it as eight monthly sections in green covers. This was a departure from his usual way of working, since all but three of Dickens’s previous novels had appeared only as monthly instalments. He was therefore under even more time constraints to write each episode, and he felt this acutely. He did say at the time that he thought it was “the best thing he had ever written”, but he tended to say this a lot! His marriage to Catherine was coming to a painful and very public ending, and he was embroiled in a clandestine relationship with Ellen Ternan. As usual he was under a phenomenal amount of pressure, and was beginning to feel the weight of his commitments more than ever. This is reflected in the more sober feel of this novel.Although written in 1859, A Tale of Two Cities is set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, and starts in 1775. It has a comparatively small cast for a novel by Dickens, and we follow just a few individuals through the years building up to the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny, in 1789, the dark years following, and the aftermath of the French Revolution. Although describing cataclysmic social and political events in France, the novel brings this to life by focusing on just a few characters, and the effect on their lives. The intimacy with which we know these people, is contrasted with the mass hysteria of the crowds. We know these people; yet we also know and recognise the menace brimming just under the surface, the seething surges of hatred and panic, the mob mentality and the evil deeds people can be driven to by centuries of oppression and poverty, the hate and revenge engendered by a callous indifference to their suffering. A tiny detail from the beginning is when the cruel Marquis Evrémonde kills a child by running his cart over the boy, and is more concerned with whether any damage has been done to his carriage. This is an incredibly poignant scene, and we sense the brooding resentment and hatred; the heartless indifference and callous cruelty of the privileged aristocracy. The Marquis is an archetype of an evil and corrupt social order, almost the aristocracy’s “everybody”, but portrayed very convincingly as an individual. For those who are reluctant to believe a classic novel can truly terrify or revolt them, please think again. An early depiction of a broken wine cask outside a wine shop, vividly describes the passing peasants’ savage and desperate scrambles to lap up any drops of the spilling wine.“The time was to come, when that wine too would be spilled on the street-stones, and when the stain of it would be red upon many there”.Such foreshadowing makes us shudder. We know from history what is to come. This grotesque and subhuman behaviour indicates both the starving poverty of the French peasants, and the metaphorical hunger for political freedoms. But there is no rhetoric here. We read an account of the wild dance of the terrifying desperation-fuelled manic ritualistic dance, the “Carmagnole”, and gruesome details of a person being hacked to death. Dickens’s descriptions force us to believe the novel’s contention, that violence is a natural part of any and all humans, given the right circumstances.“Vengeance and retribution require a long time; it is the rule.”“When the time comes, let loose a tiger and a devil; but wait for the time with the tiger and the devil chained—not shown—yet always ready.” The “Reign of Terror” is well named. A surging mob of “horrible and cruel faces ... the wildest savages in their most barbarous disguise ... hideous ... all bloody and sweaty ... howling ... staring and glaring with beastly excitement.” Dickens knew people inside out. Not only is one of his characters named “the Vengeance”, narrowing and focusing her personality down to one devastating aspect, but a counterpart to this is his genius at personification. “The sharp female called ‘La Guillotine’”, with her unremitting thirst for blood, is the most formidable character in the entire story. She is imbued with a superhuman power. (So strong is this image in my mind, that I automatically typed “she” rather than “it”.)“Liberty, equality, fraternity, or death; —the last, much the easiest to bestow, O Guillotine!”“It was the popular theme for jests; it was the best cure for headache, it infallibly prevented hair from turning gray, it imparted a peculiar delicacy to the complexion, it was the National Razor which shaved close: who kissed La Guillotine looked through the little window and sneezed into the sack.” Such savage sardonic writing will make you shudder! Giving objects personalities is a hallmark of Dickens’s writing. His novels also contain many symbols and double meanings. It is possible to read A Tale of Two Cities as a nailbiting adventure story, intensified by the knowledge that many of these were actual events, and yet metaphors and symbols abound. We have doubles in characters, parallels and contrasts. We have shadows and darkness, both literal and metaphorical. The story start in gloom and mist, and the apprehension continues throughout. From the very start too, we have the theme of Resurrection. This can be seen as the novel’s major theme and purpose, and it can also be traced in episode after episode, even down to the in-joke of the novel, the “resurrection man” Jerry Cruncher, “an honest tradesman” by day, but who spends his evenings as a grave-robber, or body-snatcher.“Resurrection men” were a reality. By the 18th century the medical professions were in dire need of fresh corpses to use in medical training. These could only be obtained legally from excuted murderers. Therefore a ghoulish trade began. Surgeons and anatomists alike turned a blind eye to their provenance, and looked to “resurrection men” to supply their demand.The novel is peppered with other quirky bon mots, “Mr. Cruncher ... always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it”but they are sadly rarer than usual. Dickens had a massive public following, yet he desperately wanted to be part of the elite literary establishment, and resented the tag “Mr. Popular Sentiment” sneeringly given him by a fellow author, Anthony Trollope. But Dickens could not resist his nature entirely, and did not keep a check on his impish and grotesque sense of humour. Whenever the blood, gore and horror become too much we are entertained with ghoulish episodes involving Jerry Crunchers’s hair-raising exploits, or stories of Jerry and his wife, who function as a sort of Punch and Judy sideshow. There are slapstick parts even in such a grim tale, though most of the humour is black indeed. Dickens had a penchant for ghouls and ghosts, as well as positively revelling in blood-curdling scenes. For instance, he had witnessed a beheading by guillotine in Rome in 1845 and described a year later in “Pictures from Italy”. It is a careful study; a detailed and close description. Dickens stored everything in his mind, waiting for the proper time to reanimate these grotesque images, and did so with vigour and brutality in his scenes about the executions.We see the horrors of the guillotine, the waves of hysteria and brutishness of the crowd. We see individuals blinded to reason by their passions, and swerving allegiance on a whim. We witness the hopelessness and despair of those enmeshed in the threads, both metaphorically and also literally, (view spoiler)[in the code of Madame Defarge’s knitting. Madame Defarge’s knitting symbolises her victims’ fate—death at the hands of a wrathful peasantry. (hide spoiler)] This strongly echoes Greek mythology, linking vengeance to fate. “The Fates” are three sisters who control human life, weaving and sewing. One sister spins the web of life, another measures it, and the last cuts it. Whether or not we remember the direct reference when reading, the pointers are there. A wealth of significance is waiting to seep through, or strike us like a shaft of light.And even in the midst of the unbearable horror, when we are dreading to turn the next page and are sinking in a mire of darkness and despair, we find a ridiculous death. The encounter to the death between (view spoiler)[ Miss Pross, with her unswerving ridiculous faith in her English superiority,and the terrifying, fearsome, Madame Defarge,(hide spoiler)] is both unexpected and hilarious. An earlier, less experienced, Dickens would have written the former as a one-dimensional comic character, yet both these two have much depth and ambiguity. And ask any two readers, including all Dickens’s many illustrators of this novel, to describe Madame Defarge, and you will be likely to receive two totally different answers. Yet this formidable personality is one of Dickens’s top creations. “Tell Wind and Fire where to stop ... but don’t tell me.”“Thérèse” Defarge “harvests” bodies; a common idiom too of La Guillotine. In contast, the angelic “Lucie” Manette’s name means “light”; she shines a beacon of hope throughout the novel.A theme of imprisonment relates both to the mind and to incarcerated bodies, golden threads may be three strands of beautiful hair, or metaphorically of life, as may the mending of roads. There are the darkened regions both in prisons, and in the mind. And there are the dark, musty, quaint annals of Tellson’s bank. Tellson’s bank, incidentally, was based on “Child & Co bank” which was founded at Temple Bar, on the site Dickens describes in the 1660s. Dickens always used real locations wherever possible. The Manettes lived in Soho Square, Clerkenwell was Mr Lorry’s area, Whitefriars was where the Crunchers lived. All these, and the Old Bailey, are familiar places to Londoners of today. Parisians are equally familiar with the locations of the Place de la Révolution, now called the Place de la Concorde, La Conciergerie prison, now used mostly for law courts, Notre Dame, La Force prison, and the Place de la Bastille. Saint-Antoine, where the Defarge’s wine shop was located, also exists. At the time of A Tale of Two Cities, the Bastille prison stood at its western edge, but Saint-Antoine actually became part of Paris in 1702. Sometimes it is even possible to identify specific shops or inns. At one point, two of the characters, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton, walk down Ludgate hill to Fleet Street, up a covered way, into a tavern. Here they have “a good plain dinner and good wine.” Very probably this was an inn called “Ye Old Cheshire Cheese”, a favourite eating place of Dickens himself which had been rebuilt after the great fire of 1666.The three parts, “Recalled to Life”, “The Golden Thread” and “The Track of a Storm” each contain several chapters, and each chapter heading is succinct, perhaps just two words, precisely describing what is to follow, without revealing it. The chapter headings alone are miniature masterpieces, and a world away from his earlier sentences taking up a full page. I have not told the story here, nor much about the characters, but both are easy enough to find.A Tale of Two Cities remains a novel I am ambivalent about. I do not like what the author is saying to me, and that colours my view of it. Even at the start of this reread, I was tempted to view it as a lesser novel. Nevertheless, the more I consider it, the more highly I find myself obliged to rate it. If I put aside my love of Dickens, and my hopes of another, more enjoyable type of novel from my favourite author, I have to rate this as a masterpiece.If you have never actually read anything by Charles Dickens, please do not start with this one! Yes, you may be tempted. It is short and has an irresistible storyline. It’s probably the one you were directed to at school, too. Yes, it gets 5 stars even from me. But if you read this first you will miss so much of his humour, and of his sheer joi-de-vivre. He wanted this to be a history-driven novel, where the incidents and story would fuel the action, rather than his usual sort of book, where the plot was determined by the characters and the situations they found themselves in. Consequently it has a very un-Dickens like feel. Read it when you have a few others under your belt. Try “David Copperfield” instead. That was his personal favourite.But if you are familiar with Dickens’s style, and have not yet read this, be prepared for a breathtaking ride. You may need to steel yourself for a grim read, and will find commanding, powerful descriptions to chill you to your core. You will find a past full of destruction, but may see a future of hope and potential. And just occasionally, you will glimpse unexpected quirky moments, which could only ever have been penned by “the Inimitable” Mr. Dickens.The ending of the novel, known and loved by millions, is like the beginning, a favourite classic quotation. In both, Dickens is making use of a clever literary device: “anaphora”. He repeats a word or phrase over many lines, and this makes it more rhythmic and more memorable to us. We feel both that it encapsulates a rare truth, and also that it feels musical. Yet our memories betray us. Nobody ever says these beautiful and noble lines in “A Tale of Two Cities”. They are said in the author’s voice—not by the character whom we remember as saying them. The author is dreaming, and taking a step back out of the book. He quite deliberately puts these words into an imagined fancy, rather than his character. Surely only Dickens could have pulled this off with such conviction—and such style.“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.”

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-05-17 21:47

    Hands down my favorite Dickens' I've read yet! It's got love, sacrifice, revenge, revolt and other exciting verbs! I'm a big fan of a solid marriage between character development and action. A Tale of Two Cities is well-wed. Some criticize Dickens for his trite stories and overblown caricature-esque characters. Yes, the man wrote some less-than-perfect books. He wrote them for a wide-ranging public and he wrote for money. High-minded prose eloquently crafted may garner praise, but it doesn't always pay the bills. But here you get the author at his finest, plotting a riveting tale and creating sympathetic characters with empathy up the wazoo. The great descriptions of the rebellion are interesting, but it's the dual nature of the revolutionaries that I really love. Dickens makes you feel for their plight and then twists it around, so that the tortured become the tyrants and your fondness turns to loathing as you witness their despicable deeds. "Feel" is the operative word there. Dickens put a lot of feeling into A Tale of Two Cities.

  • Pouting Always
    2019-04-29 20:39

    Some how my review of this got deleted which is good because I think after sitting a while I can appreciate the book more. When I read it it was confusing and slow and then towards the end really picked up and I was kind of disoriented but it gives a really good view into things in the period before the French Revolution. Learning about it was one thing but reading this made me very sympathetic of the peasants and angry on thier behave, honestly surprised they didn't start rioting sooner.

  • Apatt
    2019-04-26 17:24

    It was the best of a far, far, FAR better thing that I do, than I have ever done.I know that’s lame, but I’m out of ideas for an opening paragraph.This is my second reading of A Tale of Two Cities and I doubt it will be my last. A lot of people who habitually read for pleasure probably would not consider reading this book because it is required reading in many schools and it would seem like anathema to a good time to read it when you don’t have to. This is unfortunate because I think this — like all Dickens novels — works best if you just read it naturally without trying to analyze the hell out of it on every page. I doubt that was Dickens’ intent. I was considering writing a little synopsis which is part of the standard review structure for me, but it feels like summarizing* something likeFrankenstein, superfluous. The characters are worth looking into though, because Dickens always populate his novels with colorful, memorable characters; as well as a few flat ones, who are usually the “good guys”. A Tale of Two Cities has, at least, two characters that are practically legends of fiction. First and foremost is poor Sydney Carton who — in spite of a boxy name — is the true hero of the story. Throughout the novel he seems like a side character, he even views himself as a supernumerary individual among his “friends”, who are more like people he likes to visit, though they don’t really know why he often shows up or what to do with him. “Well! At any rate you know me as a dissolute dog, who has never done any good, and never will.”Sydney has no self-respect or any sense of self-worth but redeems himself in an epic manner by the end of the book. He is fascinating if a little unbelievable in how far he would go to serve the love of his life, Lucie Manette. Lucie comes straight from Dickens’ stock of impossibly angelic pretty women who would rather die than say boo to a goose (which is a crazy pastime in any event). She has very little in the way of personality or agency and seems ill-suited to the much deeper Carton (I feel another pun coming on). Charles Darnay — the dull “romantic lead” of the novel — suits her much better, but at least he galvanizes the story when he chooses to go to Paris at the worst possible time for someone of his background, and without making any precaution. Lucie’s Dad, Doctor Manette, is marginally more interesting than her daughter because when he gets very upset he does not hit anybody, instead, he shuffles off to his room and start cobbling shoes! This makes sense to me, if everybody could be like this, instead of wars and terrorisms we would have mountains of shoes. Which do you prefer?This (somehow) brings me to Madame Therese Defarge, Dickens’ most badass antagonist. (Thank you Video Spark Notes for the art). I hesitate to use the word “villain” here because she is not evil per se. She has her reasons for going on a murderous rampage and hacking people’s heads off with a knife, it is all done in the name of the French republic as far as she is concerned. “Her husband's destiny,” said Madame Defarge, with her usual composure, "will take him where he is to go, and will lead him to the end that is to end him. That is all I know.”The best thing about her is that — when she is not off exterminating aristocrats — she is always doing some scary knitting.** I have gone on too long about the characters I think, I’d just like to mention Miss Pross, Lucie’s governess who is almost as badass as Madame Defarge, and is a great foil for her.These colorful characters make the novel for me, the plot is only exciting because we care about the characters. In A Tale of Two Cities Dickens created a microcosm of life during the French Revolution and shows as that even with the heart in the right place much evil is still perpetrated in the name of good. That still rings true today, unfortunately. Dickens' prose is — of course — awe-inspiring. He effortlessly switches from sardonic, to comical, to lyrical from paragraph to paragraph. There are numerous witty or pithy lines you can quote from, on practically every page. Having said that, the language is not particularly challenging to read, if you read contemporary fiction regularly I can't imagine why you would have any difficulty reading Dickens, the English language has not mutated that much since Victorian times. A Tale of Two Cities is a book I can recommend to anybody, but especially people who dismiss reading it because they had to read it at school. That is no reason to deprive yourself of a book this enjoyable.* I’m not allowed to use the verb synopsize (hi Cecily!)** I have met a lot of women who are a bit like Madame Defarge actually, well, they like to knit, but they don’t go on murderous rampages as far as I know. I did say a bit.NotesSome people say A Tale of Two Cities lacks the humour of Dickens’ other novels. I beg to differ, Miss Pross is always good for a laugh and Madame Defarge’s knitting and the secret signals she sends through her hat are pretty mirthful. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)This reread was done mostly through Librivox's free audiobook, read by Paul Adams, a little overly dramatic at times but a good and fun rendition. Thank you!(Thanks, Cecily! 🤣 )

  • Pink
    2019-05-03 19:40

    I don't know Dickens. Is it you? Or is it me? I keep reminding myself that this isn't typical fare of his. Much shorter, written weekly, full of plot, tight on character development, short on the waffle. Does this make it one of his best, or one of his worst?I have to admit, that for the majority of my time listening to this on audiobook, I kept forgetting what novel it was. I've recently read The Count of Monte Cristo, so in my head Manette was morphing into the Count, but a lesser version. Then I kept being reminded of Les Mis, but again, with inferior characters.The main problem with A Tale of Two Cities, is that I never cared about anyone in the book. I felt they were only superficially drawn characters and needed more development for me to get to know them, but this never really happened. So although I enjoyed aspects of the plot, especially the action in the last few chapters, this wasn't enough. Ultimately, the jury is still out for me and Dickens, but I'll persevere and read a few more examples yet.

  • Duane
    2019-04-23 22:37

    One of the greatest novels ever written. I've never seen a ranking that didn't include this novel. If you have ever wondered what it was like to live through the French Revolution, then read this novel. Through Dickens' words you feel the anger, the hopelessness, the insecurity, and most of all the fear that enveloped everyone. It was a pleasure and a privilege to read this masterpiece.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-04-25 00:26

    883. A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickensداستان دو شهر - چارلز دیکنز (فرزان روز) ادبیاتمترجم: گیورگیس آقاسی؛ تهران، پیروز، 1347، در 300 صمترجم: ابراهیم یونسی؛ تهران، جاویدان، چاپ اول 1346، در 436 ص، چاپ دوم 1355 ، در 570 صمترجم: ابوالفتوح امام؛ تهران، گلشایی، 1362 ، در 520 صمترجم: ناظر نعمتی؛ تهران، مجرد، 1363 ، در 197 صمترجم: کامران ایراندوست؛ تهران، درنا، 1368 ، در 180 صمترجم: امیر اسماعیلی؛ تهران، توسن، 1368 ، در 130 صمترجم: مینو مشیری؛ تهران، علمی فرهنگی، 1370 ، در 225 صمترجم: مجید سیف؛ تهران، سپیده، 1370 ، در 171 صمترجم: مهدی سحابی - متن کوتاه شده؛ تهران، مریم، 1374 ، در 141 صمترجم: ابراهیم یونسی؛ تهران، نگاه، 1377 ، در 480 صمترجم: مهرداد نبیلی؛ تهران، فرزان روز، 1381 ، در 482 صمترجم: مهدی علوی؛ تهران، دبیر، 1389 ، در 96 صمترجم: نوشین ابراهیمی؛ تهران، افق، 1389، در 698 صمترجم: وحید سهرابی حسنلویی؛ خدیجه سهرابی حسنلویی؛ نقده، سولدوزبایجان، 1393، در 165؛رمانی نوشته چارلز دیکنز است که داستانش در لندن و پاریس، پیش و در طول انقلاب فرانسه رخ می‌دهد داستان جوانی کشاورززاده را تحت تعالیم اشرافیگرائیهای فرانسوی در سالهای منتهی به انقلاب، و خشونتهای انقلابیون را نسبت به اشراف سابق، در سالهای اول انقلاب فرانسه به تصویر می‌کشد. در این جریانات ماجرای چند نفر دنبال می‌شود، از همه مهمتر: چارلز دارنه، اشرافی فرانسوی سابق که علی‌رغم ذات خوبش، قربانی هیجانات ضد تبعیض انقلاب می‌شود؛ و سیدنی کارتن، وکیلی بریتانیایی که فراری است و تلاش می‌کند زندگی ناخوشایندش را با عشق به همسر دارنه، لوسی مانه نجات دهدا. شربیانی

  • Teresa
    2019-04-26 01:25

    I first read A Tale of Two Cities as a high school sophomore. I have a vivid memory of my English book laid flat on my desk, though it seems odd to me now that the whole story was in a textbook. Though it wasn’t my introduction to Dickens (that came from a book of stories I didn’t realize till later were not the ‘real’ stories, but that’s a different story), I remember being stunned by the language, the characters and the atmosphere. Especially due to the characters of Sydney Carton (what teenage girl doesn’t have a soft spot for unrequited love) and Madame Defarge (Vengeance, thy name is Woman!), the novel was an inspired choice for an Honors English group of girls, some of whom would stand up at lunchtime to reenact scenes. (I especially remember their going on to denounce each other as having “walked with the devil” a la The Crucible the following school year.) While this reread (with the Dickens Fellowship of New Orleans -- not a teenager in the group) perhaps brought to light for me some of the non-perfection of this work, the opening paragraph (not just its famous first phrase); the unbearable heart-pounding pacing of the carriage rides; and the entire last chapter (not just the famous last sentence) retained every bit of their power. I’d forgotten the ultimate fate of one character and, when it arrived, it startled me with the force of a solitary thunderclap, so unexpected I had to read it again to make sure it had happened.

  • Carlos
    2019-05-16 19:40

    "IT IS A FAR, FAR BETTER THING..."Antes que todo: ¡Que pedazo de final!Dickens está en el podio de mis escritores favoritos, pero si hay algo que le faltó es un poco más de claridad al expresarse en oraciones largas, y eso se refleja claramente en esta novela.A pesar de eso, es encantadora. Los personajes están muy bien hechos, la trama de las dos ciudades (París y Londres) están bastante claras: los comentarios que hay sobre la Revolución Francesa son los perfectos para hacer de esta novela algo genial, y siempre en el estilo muy característico de Dickens. También se mezcla el amor (algo muy común en esos tiempos), sacrificio y venganza, lo que hace a esta novela incluso más oscura, teniendo en cuenta el contexto histórico. ¡Simplemente genial!Hablando de su estilo de escritura, siempre hay que estar concentrado para poder entender lo que dice, ya que su lenguaje nunca fue el más fácil de entender.¿Recomendable leer? Absolutamente sí, siempre y cuando tengas la disposición a concentrarte 100% en la lectura, ya que, como dije antes, no es fácil de entender, pero se disfruta mucho.

  • Erik
    2019-05-18 21:50

    A Tale of Two Cities holds the dubious honor of being the first book I ever picked up and failed to finish. The very first.From there, it's all gone downhill. Just look at my reviews where I casually admit to throwing away classics unread. A Light in August, Lolita, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, etc, etc...If you enjoy the little things, like being sane and not hating life, then I recommend you never pick this up.

  • Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum
    2019-04-21 18:29

    «Ήταν οι καλύτερες μέρες, ήταν οι χειρότερες μέρες, ήταν τα χρόνια της σοφίας, ήταν τα χρόνια της άνοιας, ήταν η εποχή της πίστης, ήταν η εποχή της ολιγοπιστίας, η εποχή του Φωτός και η εποχή του Σκότους, ήταν η άνοιξη της ελπίδας κι ο χειμώνας της απελπισιάς, είχαμε μπρος μας τα πάντα, είχαμε μπρος μας το τίποτε…»Είναι ένα αριστουργηματικό μανιφέστο για τη δύναμη της αγάπης, της λύτρωσης και το μεγαλείο του ανθρώπινου πνεύματος. Δεν είναι ένα απλό μυθιστόρημα. Μέσα σε αυτό το έργο ζωής και τέχνης κάθε λέξη, κάθε ενέργεια, έχει νόημα και αξία. Κάθε σκέψη του Ντίκενς αποτυπωμένη αριστοτεχνικά περνάει σαν ουσία ζωής και φθάνει μέχρι το μυελό των οστών του αναγνώστη. Ειναι τρομακτικό πως καταφέρνει να απεικονίζει τα γεγονότα της Γαλλικής επανάστασης και κάθε επανάστασης, δίνοντας σου τη δυνατότητα να μυρίζεις, να αισθάνεσαι, να βιώνεις,τα ένστικτα των ανθρώπων που ουρλιάζουν σιωπηλά. Τις καταπιεσμένες λαϊκές μάζες που βουλιάζουν στην ανέχεια, την αμάθεια, το κρύο, την πείνα, τις άρρωστιες, τη βρομιά, την καταπίεση, το φόβο και το θάνατο.Παράλληλα γράφει μια τρυφερή και βαθιά ανθρώπινη ιστορία αγάπης. Μια αγάπη που ειναι καταδικασμένη να στολίζεται απο σταθερότητα αισθημάτων και θυσιών. Εδώ, μέσα στο βούρκο και τη λάσπη, μέσα στο σκοτάδι που νικάει πάντα το φως των λιωμένων κεριών, μέσα σε σπίτια αθλιότητας και δυστυχίας σε κάθε μορφή, στην κακουχία, το έγκλημα, τη βασανιστική ανάγκη επιβίωσης απο ψίχουλα θανάτου, εδώ, σ αυτά τα ίδια μέρη, στις ίδιες πόλεις γίνονται οι απαλλαγές απο κοσμικές και θεϊκές εξουσίες. Εδώ, ιστορία δυο πόλεων, ιστορία όλων των πόλεων του κόσμου. Οι καλύτερες ανθρώπινες ενέργειες ανθίζουν απο την επαναστατική πένα του οράματος και αναπτύσσονται παράλληλα και σε αντίθεση με την απόγνωση, την αγωνία, την τρομοκρατία και την φρικτή εκδικητική φύση που προκαλείται απ’την αντίθεση της ίδιας ανθρώπινης καλοσύνης. Ο Ντίκενς απίθανα και απίστευτα καταφέρνει να γράψει στην γλώσσα όλων των εποχών, ενεργοποιεί αυτομάτως τους μηχανισμούς της παγκόσμιας ιστορίας. Συσσωρεύει πνευματικότητα και σοφία σε μεγάλες λογοτεχνικές σκέψεις. Μεταμορφώνει τα μυαλά που τον δέχονται ώστε να λαχταράνε ιστορίες πόλεων ...για την προώθηση της κοινωνικής επανάστασης όπως μόνο οι μεγάλοι δάσκαλοι μπορούν να πουν. Να πουν για αυτή την αιματοβαμμένη ιστορία του Λονδίνου και του Παρισιού το έτος 1793 , αλλά να καλύπτουν και τις προσπάθειες έμπνευσης για κακομεταχείριση του εκάστοτε βίαιου επαναστάτη.Κάπου διάβασα πως ο Ντίκενς είναι υπερβολικός σε ιδέες και αξιακές διαδρομές. Δεν ειναι υπερβολικός, ειναι αληθινός και δυνατός, είναι προφήτης της επαναστατικής κατήχησης για κοινωνικές αλλαγές με ειρηνικά μέσα. Για αλλαγές που δεν ειναι ουτοπικές και θεωρητικές εάν ξεκινούν απο την ατομική θυσία, απο την προσωπική ιδεολογική μεταστροφή, και την πνευματική αναγέννηση. Πόσο πιο ξεκάθαρα να το προβλέψει μέσα απο τους χαρακτήρες του βιβλίου του με πολιτικό περιεχόμενο πως ναι, είμαστε όλοι χειραγωγημένοι, ήμασταν και θα είμαστε. Ο Ντίκενς γράφει για έναν φρικτό κόσμο. Δεν υπάρχει δικαιοσύνη για τους φτωχούς. Οι αδύναμοι κακοποιούνται και κακομεταχειρίζονται απο την άρχουσα τάξη και όταν τελικά εκδικούνται επικρατεί ο νόμος της ζούγκλας, τα άγρια ζώα που πεινάνε για όλα και καταναλώνονται εντελώς με την επιθυμία τους για αίμα. Μετά χάος, νοοτροπία μάζας, αγριότητα, καταστροφή, φρενίτιδα, βία. Δεν ειναι αυτός ο κόσμος του Ντίκενς. Η δύναμη των δικών του δυο πόλεων διερευνά τις προσωπικές πτυχές της εθνικής ταυτότητας με λίγο περισσότερη αγάπη και λίγο λιγότερη βία. Κάνει έκκληση μέσα απο τα γραπτά του και ελπίζει πως η ανθρώπινη ακεραιότητα θα μπορέσει να ξεπεράσει την εθνική μικρότητα και το ατομικό κακό. Πάντα σε σχέση με την ανθρώπινη καρδιά που μπορεί να νιώσει. Πόσο αξεπέραστα και αξιόπιστα έργα μπορεί να καταφέρει αυτή η σπουδαία λογοτεχνία. Υπάρχουν τόσα πολλά που μπορούν να μάθουν τα έθνη του κόσμου απο αυτό το βιβλίο. Μα δυστυχώς μέχρι σήμερα εκατοντάδες χρόνια μετά οι λαοί εξακολουθούν να πιστεύουν και να ακολουθούν αυτούς που φωνάζουν : ΑΥΡΙΟ ΚΑΤΑΣΤΡΕΦΕΤΑΙ Ο ΚΟΣΜΟΣ (πως θα τον σώσουμε;;)ΣΥΓΚΕΝΤΡΩΣΗ ΚΑΙ ΠΟΡΕΙΑ ΤΗΝ ΑΛΛΗ ΔΕΥΤΕΡΑ...ΓΙΑ ΟΛΑ ΦΤΑΙΝΕ ΤΑ ΞΕΝΑ ΚΑΙ ΤΑ ΝΤΟΠΙΑ ΜΟΝΟΠΩΛΕΙΑ. Καλή ανάγνωση. Πολλούς ασπασμούς.

  • Stephen
    2019-05-04 22:24

    6.0 stars. This was the first Charles Dickens novel I have ever read and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!!! After reading this, I immediately decided that I would plan on reading the rest of Dickens books (hopefully one every couple of months until I get through them all. I was completely amazed by his characters who came instantly to life for me and about whose hopes and fears I found myself truly caring. Equally impressive was Dickens' plotting and overall story-telling ability which I thought were nothing short of masterful. Dickens writing conveyed the passions and turmoil of the French Revolution like few other works of literature I have come across. In sum, in between two of the most famous first and last lines of any English novel (i.e., "It was the Best of Times...." and "It is a far, far better thing I do...") is an incredibly entertaining and moving story. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

  • Brad
    2019-05-05 17:43

    A painful beast of a book. It took me five attempts to get past page one hundred, and when I finally did break that barrier I pressed on until the very end so that I didn't have to suffer ever again.Dickens is a problem for me. I admit it freely.There was a time, many years ago, when I was a fan. I read Great Expectations for the first time in grade four, and I was in love with the book and Dickens. And I imagine that some part of my social consciousness, which wasn't a gift from my parents, was planted with the seeds of Dickens.Over the years, though, Dickens and I have grown apart. I don't mean that I have "outgrown" him in any sort of condescending manner. It's not the sort of thing I expect anyone else to do, nor is it something that I blame fully on Dickens. No, we've grown apart as many couples do when one person changes through life and experience and the other remains constant.I have become a radical over the years, and Dickens...well, he's still as bourgeois left as ever, and we're not compatible any more. He venerates the comforts of the middle class; he expounds the virtues of law and order and charity; he attacks the indignities of the abuses of power but only offers imaginary methods for overcoming them, mythologizing the bourgeoisie's ability to overthrow the things that ail us; he vilifies those who seek more radical solutions; and, whether he admits it or not, he still believes in the superiority of nobility and noble blood.So when he starts to attack the revolutionaries in Paris and uses it to illustrate the "superiority" of civilized English behavior, when Dickens' moral soapbox weighs heavier than his plot, I begin to tune out of his lecture, and A Tale of Two Cities makes me increasingly angry from page to page. I recognize Dickens' talent. I still love his prose. And I get why people love this book, and maybe even why you do, kind reader, but I can't stand it (and I am finding it increasingly difficult to like any of his work anymore).I may burn this someday. But I have fully annotated the version I own and while I can burn the words of others (it's the radical in me), my lovely inner narcissist simply can't burn words of my own (unless it is for catharsis). So A Tale of Two Cities will likely survive on my shelf until I die, mocking me from its high perch in my office, whispering that a catharsis that may never come just may be necessary.

  • Danger
    2019-05-10 00:27

    About 30 pages into this book, I was struck with a moment of panic:WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? WHERE THE HELL IS GARFIELD?!?Had the lasagna-loving feline been uncerimoniously behead on the guillotine before the happenings of page 1? Without my favorite cartoon cat's wry, laid-back sense of wit these are surely THE WORST OF TIMES!That is when I realized I was reading the classic text A Tale of Two CITIES, by Charles Dickens and not watching the 2006 cinematic masterpiece Garfield: A TAIL of Two KITTIES! Holy crap! How embarrassing!Against my better judgement, I decided to keep reading, hoping that at some point Garfield would pop up and say something hilarious about hating Mondays. Well, fellow readers, he doesn't. I repeat: GARFIELD IS NOT IN THIS BOOK! AT ALL!Instead, Dickens (is that his real name? LOL!) crafts a tale of sacrifice and redemption set against the bleak background of the French Revolution. Overall, I guess it's an okay book, if you're into the "classics" sort-of thing, but I believe in my heart of hearts that this novel really could've benefitted by AT LEAST a cameo from Jon Arbuckle or something.

  • Debra
    2019-04-29 18:20

    "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."I still remember being assigned to read this book in the 11th grade by Mr. Stahler. I can still see him up there in front of the room, leaning on the lectern, talking about Dickens and this particular book. Thinking back on this time, I can say this is the first Classic book that I loved. I loved the romance, heroism, the courage, the sacrifice. As a teenage girl this book seemed so sad yet so romantic. When I think of Dickens I think of Mr. Stahler and the discussions of this book in his classroom. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.." Really, it was the time of the French Revolution. A time of intrigue, bloodshed, danger, love, romance, terror, betrayal, hunger, and vengeance. The social classes in France are at war. The poor seeking revenge against the aristocracy. Dickens explains this in a simple fashion. His gift is giving us people on both sides of the battle. We can be sympathetic to the individual characters. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And at the end of the day, does it even really matter?Mr. Mancette is released from prison. He has been wrongly/unjustly imprisoned for 18 years and is now free to unite with his daughter, Lucie. They go to England where they hope to live and be free of the past. But their plan is not to be as the pair is summoned back to Paris where they have to testify agains Charles Darnay. Darnay, like Mancette, has been wrongly accused of treason. Let it be said that Darney also looks almost exactly like another man in the proceedings, Sydney Carton. Today we might say "really looking exactly like another person? how contrived? How cheesy!" But it works in this book. Boy does it work.True, this was written years and years ago. Yes, some of the language and writing might seem hard to digest. But perhaps, if you give this a go, stick with it, you will see the beauty of this book. Brilliant tale with brilliant storytelling. A Pleasure. I have read this three times, each time enjoying it more and more. Each time finding something else to love about it. Each time I am in awe.A favorite!

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-04-25 01:48

    This book is interesting for the wrong reasons. On the one hand there are elements that work very well and you feel confident in the author's skill but on the other hand the sequence of events that sucks one character after another back into France feels entirely unconvincing.In Bleak House we see a bundle of characteristics taken to a negative extreme in the person of the French women Hortense. In A Tale of Two Cities this is extended here to the point that 'bad' and 'French' seem to be synonymous terms as do 'good' and 'English'. This culminates in the patriotic prize fight between the good English woman and the bad French woman.Dickens wants to have his cake and eat it with his central plot conceit. He shows the reader that the Ancien regime was bad and evil, that the people who suffered under it were innocent victims, but equally that the people who overthrew the Ancien Regime and seek revenge are also evil while at the same time getting round the notion that all French people are evil by finding all three of the good ones and lining them up in this story. This isn't satisfying. In the context of early Victorian Britain it paid not to look too radical and there was a ready market for anti-French & horrors of the French revolution stories. This anti-French sentiment is executed so crudely that while I'm convinced and moved by Dickens' social commentary in Hard Times, Bleak House or Great Expectations I'm entirely mistrustful of what I'm being told in A Tale of Two Cities.Politically the timing of this novel is interesting. Dickens is writing eight years before the Second Reform Act, which extended the franchise in Britain, and he is looking back at the circumstances of the late eighteenth century. In terms of the cruelty and hardships of the best of times and the worse of times there are similarities between the two countries. Dickens is looking back over a subsequent period of slow and pragmatic reform in Britain and violent change in France. The reason he gives implicitly in his text for the different political outcomes is purely in the character of the two nations. The French are too passionate, while the phlegmatic English, and here remember Mr Rouncewell's 'Saxon' face in Bleak House contrasted with the aristocratic Dedlock, are constituently (politically and personally) capable of pragmatic change.At once we see both political radicalism and a certain conservatism in Dickens' views. On the one hand the stress on the Saxon compared with the Frenchman takes us back to the Norman Yoke ideology, a mainstay of English political radicalism from the Levellers to the Chartists, yet the implications are conservative. Political life in Britain can change, pragmatically and effectively because of the nature of the English people. The lack of the traits that allow the English to be fundamentally democratic in the national character of the French however condemns them to being an example to avoid. This is enormously reassuring to the comfortable classes subscribing to Dickens' periodicals. Even the still distant threat on the horizon of extending the franchise to decent working men can be weathered due to inherent English pragmatism (view spoiler)[ the product of our magnificent mucus no doubt as all affectionados of the four humours will agree (hide spoiler)]. The Saxon national character will prevent the violence of a French Revolution from occurring in Britain.At the same time Dickens' personal life was anything but phlegmatic and pragmatic. Perhaps something of the tension between the personal and the public gives the book the power it has. The fight isn't between the good Englishwoman and the bad Frenchwoman, it is Dickens at war with himself. Publicly pragmatism wins, personally, however, it is all about passion.

  • Annie
    2019-05-16 20:39

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… These lines will perhaps haunt me for the rest of my life. A Tale of Two Cities is a delicious plate of my mom’s best hotch-potch served in the biting cold of a grey December. Set in the backdrop of the French Revolution, with poverty, hunger, debauchery spreading like a dark mist over the country, and by contrast an idyllic England. It’s a story of love, of endurance and friendship, of the vagaries of the human condition, of the fickleness of a crowd, sacrifices and retribution. But enough has been said about this book and nothing that I would write that hadn’t already been written and said in some measure or other. So, I thought I’d share this letter that I wrote instead. Dear Mr. C Dickens, I have not had the pleasure of your acquaintance before although I had heard of you, a lot (I might add), from mouths, both young and old; in times of my years, both past and present. You always came across to me as someone who were to be conquered and I guess, I was afraid of been vanquished. This would probably be a line of conversation one would think of taking up with the great annals of Russian Literature, but you remained quite a mystery to me, albeit with a slight suspicion of greatness awaiting me, much like the excess helpings of my dear mum’s special sweet dish that always leaves me with a tummy ache. But oh how you serenaded me! You asked me out for a dance and kept me on my feet the entire night while I was happy, happy to be in the soft embrace of your arms, in close proximity to your heart that beat, beat with the rhythm of the music but in between the jolts of life told me tales of mercy and tears and love and hunger. I was dipped in to the depths of an abyss, until I fell, fell into the darkness and just as I fell, you swooped in picked me up and lifted me to the light.From the first look to the last, from the first words whispered tenderly, mockingly to my ears to the last ones with a tone of finality, you have left me in despair. I cannot wait to dance the night away again. For the love and adoration you have inspired in me will hold me a slave to your every idiosyncrasies. I will happily abide the time till our next sojourn. As I hold the belief that this is first of the many to come.Your deeply eternal faithful mesmerized admirer.

  • Sidharth Vardhan
    2019-04-30 17:33

    “No man ever really loved a woman, lost her, and knew her with a blameless though an unchanged mind, when she was a wife and a mother, but her children had a strange sympathy with him—an instinctive delicacy of pity for him. What fine hidden sensibilities are touched in such a case, no echoes tell; but it is so, and it was so here. Carton was the first stranger to whom little Lucie held out her chubby arms, and he kept his place with her as she grew. The little boy had spoken of him, almost at the last. "Poor Carton! Kiss him for me!"French Revolution must have been too big a thing for Dickens to miss given his protests against class discrimination and constant effort to be voice if consince for English rich. In fact, he actually managed to portray the Paris of time well enough ,IMO, despite his caricature like characters and the boring tone he often took.And all that is good but the truth is three of four stars here belong to Sydney Carton. Charles is a boring Mr. Goody Two Shoes; Lucie and her father are no better – too perfect to be likeable. And yet Dickens prefers to give them footage instead of one of most memorable character he would make. Sydney would be gone for several chapters. Often I was flipping through pages to see how long I have to continue reading before having him back.The story is dull and too melodramatic – Charles managed to be accused of things he didn’t do three times (or was it four times?) and be saved each time – twice by Sydney. Also twice would he leave France under assumed identities. Sydney is in Paris to save Charles who had gone there to defend someone else.Sydney is the only redeeming thing about the novel. “O Miss Manette, when the little picture of a happy father's face looks up in yours, when you see your own bright beauty springing up anew at your feet, think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you!”He actually said the best monologue that I ever have heard about love: “I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul. In my degradation I have not been so degraded but that the sight of you with your father, and of this home made such a home by you, has stirred old shadows that I thought had died out of me. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent for ever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.” And it is not only those big dialogues but the smallest of his acts that have nothing to do with his love. I loved everything DIckens had to say about him: “At one of the theatre doors, there was a little girl with a mother, looking for a way across the street through the mud. He carried the child over, and before the timid arm was loosed from his neck asked her for a kiss.” Florentino, Myshkin, Fredrick, Fredo and now Sydney – I kind of like these losers. I loved everything Dickens had to say about him even when I didn’t know the ending. He suffers from an inferiority complex probably due to human tendency of measuring the worth of a life in terms of money. I don’t know why shouldn’t he try to move ahead in life, he is definitely street smart.I didn't like the ending which was ruined by Sydney's foolishness. Here is what a more reasonable man would have done – he would have let Charles die; then leave Paris with Lucie. And when she is emotionally vulnerable and busy fainting over her husband’s death; he could have propose her. But no, he was too short sighted for all this. Some people just can’t get this right.

  • Michael
    2019-04-30 23:24

    What a book! After reading this, I've come to appreciate Charles Dickens as so much more than "that guy who wrote the Christmas Carol."One thing I love is his ability to create a perfect storyline. Everything in this book fits together in the end like a perfect, intricate puzzle. Components that were thought to be gratuitous at first will come back in major ways at later points in the book. Maybe it's just me, but I adore authors who blatantly show that they know exactly where they're going with every sentence of the story. The ending packs a serious punch, too.The characters in this book are exceptional, as well. My personal favorite was Madame Defarge. It's probably me and my general love for "the bad guy" in stories, but I loved every scene she was in. I also like the fact the Dickens gave her a reason for hating the aristocracy so much, as compared to her husband. The wood-sawyer/roadmender was interesting, too, if only for entertainment value. But of course, I'm sure anyone going around screaming, "My little guillotine! Off with her head! Off his his head! Hahahaha!" for no apparent reason except to please the majority might interest anybody.This book was also a strong commentary regarding the Revolution. It was interesting to see the ironic way in which Dickens compares the aristocracy to the angry revolutionaries. The revolutionaries are mad for the aristocracy hurting and killing the innocent. Then, they turn right around and start killing plenty of innocent people for the sake of watching their heads roll.I understand this book isn't for everyone. The plot is complex, there are plenty of characters to keep track of, and it takes a long time to get exciting. But, trust me, if you stick with it, it will pay off in the end.

  • David
    2019-05-12 00:25

    This is another one of those Charles Dickens classics I was supposed to read as a kid and never did. Since I've never seen any of the movies either, it was actually pretty unspoiled for me, though I did know how it ends (anyone growing up in the English-speaking world can hardly have avoided knowing Sydney Carton's famous last lines: "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.".Once again, I am in awe of Dickens's ability to craft larger-than-life characters whose defining personality traits and conversational tics carry them strongly through the story, and his depiction of France before and during the Revolution is as vivid and bloody as the Terror, despite his exercising all the expected Victorian restraint when it comes to actually describing bloodshed. He also contrasts Paris with London, and not always in London's favor; Dickens was a marvelous social critic of his time, and with understated clarity he shows the reader how, while the British aristocracy was no longer trampling peasants beneath their horses' feet with impunity, the English court system was hardly more just or less rapacious and corrupt than the French.The reader can be forgiven for thinking it's just a historical novel about the French Revolution and the thrilling escape of some of its would-be victims. Dickens tells us what the novel is really about in the last chapter:And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a sprig, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious license and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind.The story itself is typically Dickensian in that it is full of memorable characters who are all brought onstage separately and then brought together by a tightening web of plot threads that ends up tying everyone together one way or another. Once Dickens introduces a character, he means to use that character until the very end, and will use any improbable plot device to make sure everyone is where he wants them to be. So of course the spy who is known to the Defarges is the very same man whom Sydney Carton saw tried years earlier in London; of course the nephew of the Marquis who imprisoned Doctor Manette (who once employed Monsieur Defarge) is the very same man who flees France and marries his daughter; of course Sydney Carton and Jerry Cruncher just happen to be in Paris on business (with the "man of business" Mr. Lorry) when Charles Darnay goes there, etc. And there is the most improbable plot device of all, telegraphed at the beginning of the book when Carton faces Darnay during that London trial. But it all works to create a tense and very enjoyable novel.One of my chief complaints about Dickens (besides his overuse of coincidence) is his very Victorian view of women: always angels of one kind or another, whether fallen or still high on their pedestals. But he almost redeems himself of that in this book with his Angel of Death, Madame Defarge (and her sidekick, The Vengeance), one of the scariest ladies in British literature. And the final confrontation between Madame Defarge and Miss Pross was all the more epic for that Dickens so rarely resolves a situation with a scene of violence, and this time he did it with two bad-ass women, both of them practically waving their national flags as they went at each other.Definitely a favorite, and one I should have read earlier.

  • Paul
    2019-05-04 20:24

    This was a re-read of an old favourite for me. It's been about 25 years, though, so long overdue. I'm not even going to try to review this masterpiece but let me just say one thing:'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...'Arguably the best opening line of any book ever written... but wait!'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...'Definitely the best closing lines of any novel ever written and I will brook no frickin' argument on this one!Both those quotes? From this book. 'Nuff said, fellow readers; 'Nuff said...