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A Tale of Two Cities Paperback – May 27 2003

4 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (May 27 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141439602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141439600
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 358 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 314 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #158,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“[A Tale of Two Cities] has the best of Dickens and the worst of Dickens: a dark, driven opening, and a celestial but melodramatic ending; a terrifyingly demonic villainess and (even by Dickens’ standards) an impossibly angelic heroine. Though its version of the French Revolution is brutally simplified, its engagement with the immense moral themes of rebirth and terror, justice, and sacrifice gets right to the heart of the matter . . . For every reader in the past hundred and forty years and for hundreds to come, it is an unforgettable ride.”–from the Introduction by Simon Schama

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illustrations by `Phiz' and other artists --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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First Sentence
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. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I will never, the rest of my life forget these two sentences. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...." and at closing "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."

Wow, this is not your usual Dickens. No quirky characters with strange names and laugh out loud moments, just a darn good story -- the story of two cities, London and Paris. It is difficult to put the plot into words, but when the book begins you are in London at the time of the American revolution and spies (or suspected spies) abound, and the story eventually switches to France prior to and during the French revolution.

Dickens does a marvelous job (as always) of building his story one step at a time and slowly peeling back the layers one at a time. This is not a put down and pick it up a week later kind of a book, it is very intense and complicated and you have to pay close attention. I was just floored at how he sucked me in with his descriptions of the mobs, terror and the madness of the revolution leading you to a nail biting finish. I admit to holding my breath during those last few pages!

Highly recommended, and well worth the time to discover (or rediscover) an old classic.
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Format: Paperback
I feel that this book is not viewed as being one of the top tier of Dickens works due to the fact that it is thrust upon grade 9 students as an introduction to literary classics and, being so, its impact and overall cultural power has become diluted due to the audience that initially received it. It is not in regards to the content of the work itself. The intellectual abilities of students of this educational level are not able to understand the historical era, appreciate the fluent descriptive nature of the writing nor to comprehend the literary nuances that the author presents. In sum, it starts out with a less than average evaluation, by a less than receptive audience, and never fully recovers from it. A similar writing that undergoes an equally unfair youth-driven summary is that of `Silas Marner'.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. etc...." Dickens in his introductory remarks clearly lays out the tone for the rest of his historical novel; everything that is presented has two different and opposing definitions depending solely on how one views life's occurrences. What appears to be a revolution to overcome decades of elitist oppression to some, appears to be a retaliatory blood bath to others and who the people that appear to be the heroes of a just and timely uprising to some, appear to be no more than blood thirsty criminals to others. The contrast that Dickens verbally paints for us goes that much deeper; the calm and serene life in England vs. the agitated emotional level of Paris, the significant differences between the French and English Tellson Banks operations, and the respect of the ruling elite of London for the utter disdain for Paris's monsignors.
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Format: Paperback
Although A Tale of Two Cities is both confusing and sometimes monotonous, it is truely a great novel. Sydney Carton ,the books necessity, is both useless, and vulgar. At the beginning of the novel while talking to his partner he is referred to as the "Jackal" foreshadowing his life to come tainted by his decisions made early in the novel. Although most readers finish this novel with more pros than cons, they come to a sense that they owe a great deal of credibility to Carton, as he examplifies more than meets the eye. Having established the reputation of worthless, he has a hard time proving himself to the people amoungst him. Finally in his one chance to make his life worth the while, he sacrifices himself for his friend Lucie Mannette's husband, Charles Darnay. Darnay was one of many to be captured during the era known well as the French Revolution. As they come to find out Darnay will be lead to death only escaping it with the help of Carton. During Darnay's trial early in the novel, the public comes to find that Darnay and Carton have a striking resemblance. So, seeing this as great chance to bring meaning to his life, Carton, decides to sacrafice himself for the one and only, Charles Darnay. Thus, proving his life, saving his true friend, and adding an intriguing crux to this novel. So, as you, the reader, leave this novel you part it with both feelings of admiration and hatred, creating a love hate relationship.
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Format: Paperback
After I finished the first one hundred and fifty pages of Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, I was in dismay. Never having read a novel by Charles Dickens, I was expecting much, much more. The "great" Charles Dickens is praised around the world by critics and readers alike, but by the start of A Tale of Two Cities I didn't believe it. I was inclined to quit reading, but the realization of the novel being an assignment kept me going.
At the beginning, the pace of A Tale of Two Cities is monotonous. Dickens spends too much time in one scene; in one passage. Dickens lingers too long in one place. At times, Dickens overuses his marvelous ability to lag sentences on forever, and to create a full scale scene in just a paragraph, and he forgets about the reader. It is almost as if he gets caught up in his own writing, not caring for the reader. The wordiness of his sentences is his foe; yet his friend. When utilized correctly, the wordiness is more effective than any author that I have read, but when exploited in the wrong manner, excess is purely at work. Dickens chooses to ramble on in certain scenes, where, instead, he could get to the point and be finished. The excess of words and phrases hinders the reader's interest in the novel, and causes boredom and monotony during certain sections.
Dickens's wordiness has much do to with the plot development. The excess of Dickens's words contributes greatly to the slow, dull story of A Tale of Two Cities at the beginning. The length of his sentences, phrases, and paragraphs ties in with the boredom of the first one hundred and fifty pages. The extra length makes one simple sentence or scene, such as the descriptions and adventures of Monsieur the Marquis, seem not interesting at all.
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