Zeljka's Reviews > A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
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Feb 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: adapted-to-screen, classics, historical-fiction, hbc-challenge, freebies
Read from February 28 to April 22, 2012

What follows might be considered a heresy – but this is what I think of A Tale of Two Cities. I do not consider it a masterpiece. Too many repetitions, far too intensive sentiments and excessive use of symbols which we know they are but hardly care to unravel their meaning after a while. At the beginning the ambiguity and wish to remain enigmatic was interesting, but maintaining the same mysterious shroud throughout the whole book, has no other purpose but the tormenting of the reader. And must I remind you, the contemporary reader of A Tale of Two Cities had to read it in series. However, that also surely means that they had a plenty of time to dwell over the meaning of the paragraphs read before moving on to the next... the privilege of which we as modern 21st century readers unfortunately do not have.
But, despite of all above said, it is quite an extraordinary book. Its antagonists were very intriguing. The world of Dickens in this book and elsewhere is mostly black and white, so I was disturbingly pleased by the greyishness of the French revolutionaries. Some were lunatics, of course, just in Dickens's fashion, but Dickens gives justice to the roots of the Revolution, so that the reader cannot unilaterally denounce the actions of the revolutionaries. Most were unreasonable, certainly, but how do you reason with the mother whose child the aristocrat ran over with his carriage and went freely away without a single speck of remorse? Do you actually dare to reason with her? I myself do not think that we should be the judges of other people's lives, and taking away one life won't do the justice to the already lost one, so the revenge isn't quite a remedy for ending one's emotional anguish, but I cannot guarantee for other people's opinion about the same subject. So I was sincerely worried till the very end about all the protagonists' fate, because the way Dickens described the position they were in, I wasn't certain about the means of their escape – was that possible in such an hostile environment where innocence itself meant nothing? No need to say further, all the concerns were dispelled in quite a Dickensian way. But the message left was a strong one. And I believe it left a big mark in his contemporary readers too.
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