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A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

by Charles Dickens

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
28,70936768 (3.93)4 / 1140
Dickens relates the adventures of a young Englishman who gives his life during the French Revolution to save the husband of the woman he loves.
  1. 180
    Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (krizia_lazaro)
  2. 110
    The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy (MarcusBrutus)
  3. 40
    Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini (morryb)
    morryb: The French Revolutionary Mob becomes a character in each novel.
  4. 41
    The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle (chrisharpe)
    chrisharpe: A main source of inspiration for Dickens in writing A Tale of Two Cities.
  5. 11
    The Glass Blowers by Daphne du Maurier (buchstabendompteurin)
  6. 00
    War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (harrietbrown)
    harrietbrown: It might be handy to have an understanding of the French Revolution prior to undertaking "War and Peace," because many of the events in Napoleon's wars follow from the French Revolution, which "A Tale of Two Cities" covers.
  7. 00
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (harrietbrown)
    harrietbrown: "A Tale of Two Cities" covers the period of the French Revolution, preceding Napoleon Bonaparte's rule of France and subsequent wars, including the war featured in "Vanity Fair." In order to understand how Napoleon came to power, and his domination of Europe, it is necessary to understand the French Revolution.… (more)

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English (350)  Spanish (9)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  German (1)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (367)
Showing 1-5 of 350 (next | show all)
Probably nothing I can say that hasn't been said before: a socially-conscious novel from Dickens full of gorgeous description and startling passages of anger against the inhumanity of man. Particularly interesting to read in 2016, as the Arab world recovers from several years of revolution and the English-speaking Western world faces some surprising outsider politicians.

Coming along in 1859, after Dickens had spent a couple of years primarily enjoying the theatre lifestyle and working for the betterment of sick children, it seems as if CD felt the need to write a historical novel to cleanse some personal creative desires. His 12th novel (and 20th important work), Two Cities doesn't seem to follow logically from the works that precede it. Unlike most of Dickens' novels, the characters here are particularly wooden (Lucie Manette just seems to faint a lot, really, and Dr. Manette and Charles exist primarily for things to happen to them) and the plot rather straightforward. I've seen it likened to Barnaby Rudge but I somewhat disagree; that book still had a lot of typical Dickensian aspects to it, even if it was ultimately a "historical novel" like this one. Still, it's a quick and entertaining read, with plenty of alternating sentimentalism and anger. The two most redeeming characters - Madame Defarge and Miss Pross - make it all worthwhile. How can anyone not adore a woman so English she refuses to cross the Channel? And Sydney Carton's final internal monologue is every bit the equal of that powerful first paragraph. Sydney is not as developed a character as those who came before, but this seems in part because he is seen through other people's eyes so often. Nevertheless, the desire to start him off so unlikable and gradually create his portrait is admirable.

The relatively few bits of humour in the novel are less successful, because Cruncher lacks the human elements of previous grotesques but also lacks the purely "fantastic" elements that allow us to separate our sense of morals from our respect for their self-preservation. Miss Pross is good for a few laughs, admittedly! Still, for the kind of work it is, A Tale of Two Cities is a dashing good read nonetheless. Now on to the final black spot in my knowledge of his books: Our Mutual Friend! ( )
  therebelprince | Apr 27, 2020 |
It is probably my twentieth reading of this book. It inspires me every time.

It is a story of redemption of several, but none more so than of Sydney Carton. Beauty in the midst of madness and terror. ( )
  rodweston | Apr 23, 2020 |
golden doll Lucie, good Charles, Syndey-whose sin is to dispise himself, & the Terror
  ritaer | Apr 15, 2020 |
This is one of my top ten and Sydney Carton (with Atticus Finch) is one of my two favourite literary characters of all time. What a beautiful story of true love. (The history doesn't hurt in my books either ;)).

***SPOILER ALERT*** I FORBID you from continuing if you haven't finished it yet!

Sydney's heartbreaking, heartwarming sacrifice at the end of the novel is literature's best example of true love. Unfortunately, in modern literature true love usually goes along the lines of, "Because I love you so much, I will do anything to be with you" (including, y'know, kill your spouse/take you against your will/manipulate you/generally be a bad person and make you miserable); here, Dickens shows an example of, "Because I love you so much, I will do anything to promote your happiness." Thus, Sidney's sacrifice (to save Lucie's husband Charles, for all you terrible people who ignored the spoiler warning) is so much more meaningful and beautiful than all the romantic heroes and heroines who have died to save their loved one. Sydney demonstrates a kind of love which is truly selfless--not a love which is necessarily necessary (sorry) in every relationship, but which is beautiful when we get to see it. Sidney's my hero, and one of the reasons that I love this book so much that I feel that it's part of my soul is because it changed the way I think about love. (And that speech at the end [I know it by heart] is one of the most beautiful passages of prose I have ever encountered. This is one of the few books that can actually make me cry.)
And a thought for people who will be disconsolate about Sidney until the day they die (stop looking at me, people!):
Sidney's death was not tragic. His life was. The tragedy of death is the loss of potential--the inability to do and accomplish all the things one could have. Sidney lived in a state like that all his life. He was of excellent abilities, but his inhibitions stopped him from achieving what he really could have. That is tragic.
But in his death, he did accomplish--he saved Charles, He brought Lucie joy, and he allowed all those children and generations to exist. He died happy, and noble, and believing he wasd going to Paradise.
As well, his death is related to the theme of transcendence (one very close to my heart, and another reason I love this book so much.) Although I am not Christian, there is so much pathos in the Biblical verse to which Sydney clings so tightly: "I am the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.." This verse--and this theme--say that death is not the greatest evil--to live evilly is; and life is not the greatest good--to do good is.
Okay, you're right. it's not completely satisfying either. The best would have been for him to do something with his life (inspired by Lucie, maybe?)--but Dickens makes it pretty clear that wasn't going to happen. This was the next best option.


I'd just like to add how much I love Dickens' humour (e.g. knitting/still knitting). Many critics have argued that this book doesn't have the hilarious, caricature-like characters of, say, A Christmas Carol, but hello Madame Defarge, The Vengeance, even the Manettes.

And, despite the historical inaccuracy, C.D. does a lovely job portraying the nuanced mess that was the French Revolution--he starts with Monseigneur to get you devoutly on the side of
the proletariat, and then shows the cruelty of them, too, through the Vengeance, the Defarges, and Charles's/Sydney's victimhood, thus portraying the nuanced-ness (sorry) of good and evil, and of that situation. ( )
  Chiara_Quinn | Apr 13, 2020 |
This is the classic novel of the consequences of the French Revolution. I listened to the audio book (narrated by Simon Vance). It took me awhile to get into the story. Part of it was due to the writing style and part of it was that I was having a hard time keeping the character straight in the audio book. Once I figured out who everyone was and what was going on, it picked up. In the end, all of the side stories that earlier seemed to detract from the main plot began to come together in clever ways. I appreciated the points that Dickens seemed to be making about a corrupt system giving birth to a corrupt system. I am glad I finally got around to this classic. ( )
  Cora-R | Apr 6, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 350 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (108 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dickens, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leighton, MarianAdaptormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Abernethy, Julian W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Arbonès, JordiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ben Sussan, ReneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bordoy Luque, SalvadorTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot K.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Browne, Hablot KnightIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Busch, FrederickIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Busoni, RafaelloIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Davidson, FrederickNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haaren, Hans vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jarvis, MartinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keeping, CharlesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Koch, StephenAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lesser, AntonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindo, Mark PragerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maxwell, RichardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nord, JulieEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
PhizIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pitt, David G.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rackham, ArthurIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, AndrewEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schirner, BuckNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shuckburgh, Sir JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vries, Theun deTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wagenknecht, EdwardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wiggins, Evelina OakleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, A.N.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winterich, John T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodcock, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This tale is inscribed to the Lord John Russell in remembrance of many public services and private kindnesses
First words
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 epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
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.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This is the main work for A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Please do not combine with any adaptation, abridgement, etc.
ISBN 0140620788 is a Penguin edition of A Tale of Two Cities.
ISBN 0141439602 is a Penguin edition of A Tale of Two Cities.
ISBN 1421808196 is a 1st World Library edition of A Tale of Two Cities.
ISBN 0451526562 is a Signet edition of A Tale of Two Cities.
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Haiku summary
Two men look alike.
They love the same good woman.
They’re all in danger.

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Average: (3.93)
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1 120
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2 368
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3 983
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4 1926
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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439602, 0141031743, 0141325542, 0141196904, 0141199709

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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Urban Romantics

2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.

Editions: 1909175919, 1909175439

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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