Classic Remarks: Charles Dickens

Classic Remarks 1

Classic Remarks is a meme hosted here at Pages Unbound that poses questions each Friday about classic literature and asks participants to engage in ongoing discussions surrounding not only themes in the novels but also questions about canon formation, the “timelessness” of literature, and modes of interpretation.  Feel free to comment even if you are not officially participating!  This week’s prompt is:

Tell Us ABout Your Favorite Charles Dickens Novel.

For a long time Bleak House was my favorite Charles Dickens novel.  Like all his novels, it combines pointed social commentary with a good story, all the threads coming neatly together at the end.  But over the years I have transitioned to considering A Tale of Two Cities my favorite Dickens story (though, of course, it’s very difficult to choose).

A Tale of Two Cities is, excuse my pun, classic Dickens.  Compelling characters, richly drawn.  Mystery.  Political commentary.  All of this is here, but in a concise, tight package.  Every time I read the book, I am in awe over Dickens’s ability to write such a neat story.  You can predict the end from the beginning, simply because the construction is so perfect.

And, oh the story.  Dickens sets this one in France and in England, crossing the Channel to tell a sweeping saga of a family caught up in the French Revolution.  It’s dramatic and heartbreaking, especially with its focus on protagonist Sydney Carton, a brilliant lawyer who is wasting his life through idleness and drink.  He knows it, too, but cannot stop.  Is there a greater tragedy than someone who wants to change and has a glimpse of how he might, and yet feels he can’t?

Sometimes the length of a Dickens novel scares potential readers away, but A Tale of Two Cities is unusually short, meaning that I can recommend it for its story and yet also feel that perhaps my recommendation will be taken up.  There’s also a musical now, though some changes have been made, so I’m hoping that will inspire some more Dickens fans.

Leave your link below! Krysta 64

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15 thoughts on “Classic Remarks: Charles Dickens

    • Krysta says:

      Yay! Another Dickens fan!

      Yeah, the musical didn’t run too long on Broadway for some reason. I like it, though. It fleshes out some of the characters so we get a song about Lucie’s feelings on Darnay just leaving the country without telling her, for example. I think it’s quite powerful.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. alilovesbooks says:

    I’ve always been a bit scared of Dickens for some reason so while I do enjoy the various adaptations of his works I haven’t really read any. The exception to this is A Christmas Carol which I read for the first time last year and actually found not too intimidating (possibly because it’s so short). I have been really tempted to try another so maybe Tale of Two Cities should be my next read.

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    • Krysta says:

      I think Dickens does have a reputations for being scary, possibly because his works and sentences are so long? But then I remember that he was paid by the word and it just becomes funny. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily | Rose Read says:

    I LOVE A Tale of Two Cities – it is my favorite Dickens book, too, but that isn’t saying much considering I’ve only read that and Hard Times. I’ve been wanting to read more Dickens for a long time because I loved ToTC so much. Next on my list is Great Expectations.

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    • Krysta says:

      Yay! A Tale of Two Cities is the best! 😉

      I do find that I don’t read as much Dickens as I used to because it can be a huge time commitment. But it’s always worth it. Though I didn’t enjoy Great Expectations or Oliver Twist as much as some of his others and those are two of his most famous ones….

      Liked by 1 person

  3. luvtoread says:

    A Tale of Two Cities is my favorite Dickens as well 🙂 I just enjoy the characters and the plot so much.
    But I need to read more of his books! I think I want to read Bleak House next.

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