Understanding A Tale of Two Cities: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding A Tale of Two Cities: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding A Tale of Two Cities: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Understanding A Tale of Two Cities: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents

Synopsis

A Tale of Two Cities, does not waste a word in telling a humanly touching, suspenseful tale against the background of one of the most bloody events in history, the French Revolution. This collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary will promote interdisciplinary study of the novel and enrich the student's understanding of the French Revolution and the significant issues it raised. Newlin, the author of Everyone in Dickens and Every Thing in Dickens, has assembled a rich variety of materials. These include excerpts from Thomas Carlyle's work, The French Revolution (along with a discussion of Dickens's debt to that work), primary documents on "mob" behavior, the Fall of the Bastille, Thomas Paine and The Rights of Man, due process of law, capital punishment and the development of the guillotine, prison isolation, human dissection and grave robbing, "voices" from prison during the Terror, and colorful extracts from the writings of travelers, victims, and executioners. A detailed chronology of the French Revolution, interwoven with fictional events from A Tale of Two Cities, as well as sketches of major political, military, and financial figures of the Revolution, will help the student to place the novel in historical context. France's Declaration of the Rights of Man is compared in detail with the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Excerpt

A Tale of Two Cities is one of the most successful, if not the most successful, historical novels ever written. One of Charles Dickens's shortest works, it does not waste a word in telling a humanly touching, suspenseful tale against the background of one of the most bizarre and bloody events in history: the French Revolution of 1789 and its aftermath, culminating in the Terror of 1793-94.

There is no way to estimate the number of copies of the novel that have been sold since its publication in 1859, but it is probably greater than for any other work of Dickens--and that means for any other novel written in the nineteenth century.

A Tale of Two Cities has been translated into virtually every language and is read in schools and colleges all over the world, for it combines two things teachers and students value: the stature and endurability of a classic, and the page-turning grip of a masterful plot with a completely satisfying closure. The plot is regarded by Sir John Shuckburgh as "beyond comparison, better constructed, more elaborate, and of more sustained interest than that of any of Dickens's other books."

The novel contains some of Dickens's most famous literary passages as well as ideas about the nature of the Self and other matters which seem as advanced and timely today as they were when they were written.

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