It’s Tale of Two Cities Tuesday

Sydney CartonThe first meeting of the new Harbury Village Library Classic Book Group takes place at 7.30 on Tuesday 22nd October in the library. Drinks and nibbles will be available.

In addition to discussing the book we’ll be deciding when the next meeting will be, and what we will read next. Since not everyone who has expressed an interest in the group will be able to attend, please feel free to add your comments about A Tale of Two Cities, or about what you think we should read next, in the comments below.

There is a lot of information about this book on the interenet and we have chosen a few questions which were used by the Oprah Winfrey Book Group when they discussed A Tale of Two Cities.

1. A Tale of Two Cities opens with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” one of the best-known passages in English literature. What does Dickens mean by setting the stage with such polarities? For whom was it the best and the worst of times? Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities in the late 1850s. Why does this passage continue to be quoted today? In what ways does our own present period merit such an assessment?

2. Dickens seems to have great sympathy for the poor, the sick and the powerless, but not all such characters are portrayed sympathetically. What does that say about his sympathies? Where does he intend our sympathies as readers to lie?

3. Late in the novel, Carton is described as showing both pity and pride (page 332). Until this point in the novel, “pride” is a word we have not seen associated with Carton, who is full of mostly suppressed regret and anguish over his wasted life. What is Carton proud of, and do others see it? Do you think Dickens intends to convey that others see his pride?

One thought on “It’s Tale of Two Cities Tuesday

  1. A few things occurred to me while reading the book:

    1. I first read it over 40 years ago and it seemed like a completely different book to the one I read back then. This leads to the question, how much does the reading of a book depend on our age and life experiences?

    2. Dickens seems sympathetic to the plight of the poor in England and France, but critical of the bloodthirsty reaction of the French proletariat. Published in serial form in 1859, is Dickens comparing the plight of Europe following 1848, the year of revolutions, to the state of Britain (England), where unrest had been limited by the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, and the Chartist movement in 1848?

    3. I didn’t realise how poetic the language was. The are a number of sections which read just like a poem and use a lot of poetic devices.

    As far as “what to read next”, I’m tempted to suggest something by Marie Corelli, because of her Warwickshire connections!


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