Charles Dickens a Tale of Two Cities
Of the many novels written by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities may be his best remembered. The novel is bookended by two of the most famous lines in all of literature, from its opening “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” through the closing “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done.” Set just before and during the French Revolution, Dickens wrote the novel in 1859, serialized monthly in his own literary magazine, All the Year Round.
Dickens based most of his historical facts on Thomas Carlyle’s The French Revolution: A History. Carlyle’s three-volume work first appeared in 1837, with a revised edition appeared in 1857. The book itself was written in an unusual style, with Carlyle often employing present-tense first person plural, as well a many instances of personification and metaphor.
Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities contains some of the more memorable of his characters, including the bloody thirsty Madam Defarge, who knits a secret code of aristocrats doomed for the guillotine. Dickens frequently created such colorful characters in his novels, but has fewer such types in A Tale of Two Cities due in part to the serious nature of the work.
A Tale of Two Cities has been adapted into film no fewer than six times, including three silent versions, released in 1911, 1917, and 1922. The most recent film adaptation was a 1980 made for television motion picture.