Sunday, December 02, 2007

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

This was never my favorite Dickens novel, mainly because it isn't a good representation of what makes Dickens such a fun author. Madame DeFarge aside, the characters lack the twisty, quirky pneumonicisms that make such creations as Uriah Heep, Daniel Quilp, and Sam Weller so memorable. The fact that so much of the novel takes place in Paris, and London is relinquished to a mere backdrop, doesn't give the reader a sense of the truly "Victorian" feel of a Dickensian work.

But re-reading this last month -- for the first time since high school (where, admittedly, I probably relied more on MasterPlots than the actual novel) -- was such a great reintroduction to the book! What's not to love!? The love-triangle story is engaging, the French Revolution provides the action, and the spectre of La Guillotine appeals to our morbidity. The whole time I read this, I couldn't help but think of Rick and Ilsa and Victor Laslo in Casablanca! Great stuff!

This is one of the two Dickens novels I will be teaching in the spring at the Newberry. The other is Great Expectations.

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