A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities

November 1859

Book the First : Dickens' famous opening sentence introduces the universal approach of the book, the French Revolution, Book the Second: In 1780, French ?migr? Charles Darnay is on trial for treason against the British Crown. Book the Third:Short...

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Historical Fiction

262 Pages
4.4

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Book the First : Dickens' famous opening sentence introduces the universal approach of the book, the French Revolution, Book the Second: In 1780, French ?migr? Charles Darnay is on trial for treason against the British Crown. Book the Third:Shortly after Darnay arrives in Paris, he is denounced for being an emigrated aristocrat from France and jailed in La Force Prison

A Tale of Two Cities is an 1859 historical novel by Charles Dickens, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel tells the story of the French Doctor Manette, his 18-year-long imprisonment in the Bastille in Paris and his release to live in London with his daughter Lucie, whom he had never met. The story is set against the conditions that led up to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

 

Dickens’ best-known work of historical fiction, with over 200 million copies sold A Tale of Two Cities is regularly cited as the best-selling novel of all time. In 2003, the novel was ranked 63rd on the BBC’s The Big Read poll. The novel has been adapted for film, television, radio and the stage, and has continued to have an influence on popular culture. Screenwriter Jonathan Nolan’s screenplay for The Dark Knight Rises (2012) was inspired by the novel, with Nolan calling the depiction of Paris “one of the most harrowing portraits of a relatable, recognisable civilisation that completely folded to pieces”

 

In A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Darnay tries to escape his heritage as a French aristocrat in the years leading up to the French Revolution. During the Revolution, he's captured, but Sydney Carton, a man who looks like Darnay, takes his place and dies on the guillotine.

 

Charles John Huffam Dickens FRSA (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century, critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.

 

Born in Portsmouth, Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors' prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed readings extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children's rights, education, and other social reforms.

 

Dickens's literary success began with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. Cliffhanger endings in his serial publications kept readers in suspense. The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience's reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife's chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens improved the character with positive features.His plots were carefully constructed, and he often wove elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha'pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers.

 

His 1843 novella A Christmas Carol remains especially popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre. Oliver Twist and Great Expectations are also frequently adapted and, like many of his novels, evoke images of early Victorian London. His 1859 novel A Tale of Two Cities (set in London and Paris) is his best-known work of historical fiction. The most famous celebrity of his era, public demand saw him undertake a series of public reading tours in the later part of his career. Dickens has been praised by many of his fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to George Orwell, G. K. Chesterton, and Tom Wolfe—for his realism, comedy, prose style, unique characterisations, and social criticism. However, Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth, loose writing, and a vein of sentimentalism.

 

The term Dickensian is used to describe something that is reminiscent of Dickens and his writings, such as poor social conditions or comically repulsive characters.

 

    Book the First: Recalled to Life

    Book the Second: The Golden Thread

    Book the Third: The Track of a Storm

 

Review:

Anita Sethi

theguardian.com

It is the best of times for reissues of Dickens classics as this year marks the 200th anniversary of his birth. With one of the most famous opening sentences in history, A Tale of Two Cities ranks among the novelist's finest, anatomising the conflict between democratic and aristocratic principles during the French revolution.

 

An "intensely cold mist" covers the land "like an evil spirit". After 18 years as a political prisoner, Doctor Manette is released and reunited with his daughter, the beguiling Lucie, who captivates the affections of two suitors, an aristocratic Frenchman named Darnay and the English lawyer Carton. This tale of two cities (London and Paris) is also a tale of three lovers, with a plot-twist of self-sacrifice inspired by Wilkie Collins's play The Frozen Deep, in which Dickens acted.

Epic in historical scale, it is also an intimate book, showing how the personal and political intermingle and what the causes and effects of violence are, including the struggle to retain one's sanity under systemic abuse. Dickens focuses throughout on two sets of relationships: between father and daughter, and between subject and state. Those facing the guillotine do not hope to gain the "pity of the people", but it is a measure of Dickens's skill that he makes us feel sympathy towards them.

 

This taut, atmospheric novel initially appeared as weekly instalments in 1859. Its insights remain relevant: "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 licence and oppression ever again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind".

 

 

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