- Author – Charles Dickens
- Illustrator – Hablot Knight Browne
- Genre – Novel/Historical/Social criticism
- Date – 1859
A Tale of Two Cities, inaugurated in by Charles Dickens set in the cities of London and Paris before and during the time of the French Revolution. It is arguably one of the most famous works in the history of literary fiction having sold well over 200 million copies.
The novel was made up of 45 chapters which were published in 31 weekly installments in ‘All the Year Round’ Dickens’ new literary periodical. It was published from April 1859 to November 1859 Dickens also republished the chapters as eight monthly sections. The first weekly installment of A Tale Of Two Cities run in the first issue of All The Year Round on 30th of April 1859 and the last issue ran 30 weeks later on 26 November 1859.
The novel depicts the life of the French peasantry which has been demoralized by the French aristocracy time and again in the years building up the French Revolution. It also depicts the brutality that was demonstrated by revolutionaries to words these same former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution. The novel outlines many unflattering social patterns within life in London during the same period. It revolves around the lives of several protagonists throughout these events, the most notable of these Charles Darnay, Sydney Carton. Darnay is a former French aristocrat who is wrongly accused and faces the indiscriminate wrath of the revolution even though he is a good person, and cotton is an English barrister who tries to redeem his life out of his love for Darnay’s wife.
The entire novel is divided into three books the first of which is called ‘Book the First: Recalled to Life’ and works in establishing the era in which the novel takes place and the base of each of its characters. The second book titled ‘Book the Second: The Golden Thread’ revolves around to British spies trying to frame Charles Darnay for their own gain. The third book titled ‘Book the Third: The Track of a Storm’ deals with a host of different dilemmas along with Carton who is in love with Darnay’s wife and his ill spent time in life.
Charles Dickens has only written two works of historical fiction and A Tale of Two Cities is arguably one of the best, though it has a lot less characters and subplots than a typical Charles Dickens novel. The language used by Dickens was very varied, he used literal translations of French idioms for characters who did not speak English, and it bought a very different charm to the entire novel. Then there is the humor many of Charles Dickens’ novels held humor, but this book was different as it contained a lot less humor but it wasn’t surprising owing to the historical context and focus of the novel. Yet Dickens still manages to find the opportunity to make some very wry comments about various aspects of that era and the darker side of human nature.