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A Tale of Two Cities (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

A Tale of Two Cities (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

3.7 321
by Charles Dickens, Gillen D'Arcy Wood

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A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble


A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .” With these famous words, Charles Dickens plunges the reader into one of history’s most explosive eras—the French Revolution. From the storming of the Bastille to the relentless drop of the guillotine, Dickens vividly captures the terror and upheaval of that tumultuous period. At the center is the novel’s hero, Sydney Carton, a lazy, alcoholic attorney who, inspired by a woman, makes the supreme sacrifice on the bloodstained streets of Paris.

One of Dickens’s most exciting novels, A Tale of Two Cities is a stirring classic of love, revenge, and resurrection.

Gillen D’Arcy Wood received his Ph.D in English from Columbia University in 2000 and is currently an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of The Shock of the Real: Romanticism and Visual Culture, 1760–1860.

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From Gillen D'Arcy Wood's Introduction to A Tale of Two Cities

When Dickens expressed to A. H. Layard his fear of revolution in Britain in 1855, he only echoed many dozens of commentators over the preceding six decades, who wondered why mob violence could not simply cross the English Channel and turn the streets of London into a bloodbath of class retribution. The textbook historian's answer points to the bloodless coup of 1688, the so-called Glorious Revolution, which saw the tyrant James II forced into exile, and William and Mary inaugurate a form of managerial rule in Britain, a constitutional, "mixed" monarchy where many absolute powers of the Crown were ceded to Parliament. With the consolidation of that legislative body, however unrepresentative, Britain's nobility insured itself against the apocalyptic disaster that was to befall their French counterparts. The divergent tale of the two cities thus begins in 1688.

But as a novelist, Dickens, who loved Paris and traveled there often, offers more intuitive, closely observed reasons for the untranslatable quality of that city's Revolution. In an 1856 article for his weekly magazine, Household Words, he calls Paris "the Moon," and describes a culture of spectacle implicitly alien to his London readers. On the grand Parisian boulevards, Dickens watches the upper classes put on "a mighty show." Later, he takes coffee and a cigar at one of Paris's ubiquitous cafés, and participates in a kind of collective voyeurism unfamiliar to the English capital:

The place from which the shop front has been taken makes a gay proscenium; as I sit and smoke, the street becomes a stage, with an endless procession of lively actors crossing and re-crossing. Women with children, carts and coaches, men on horseback, soldiers, water-carriers with their pails, family groups, more soldiers, lounging exquisites, more family groups (coming past, flushed, a little late for the play). . . . We are all amused, sitting seeing the traffic in the street, and the traffic in the street is in its turn amused by seeing us ("Railway Dreaming," pp. 373-374). Paris is a society of spectacle, a glamorous outdoor "stage" where citizens are both actors and audience. Later in the article, however, Dickens describes a more sinister aspect of this culture of display when he is jostled by the crowds at the Paris morgue, whose "bodies lie on inclined planes within a great glass window, as though Holbein should represent Death, in his grim Dance, keeping a shop, and displaying his goods like a Regent Street or boulevard linen-draper" (p. 375). Dickens is unnerved here, as he was at Horsemonger Lane, by a society that places no restraints on visibility, even to preserve the solemnity of the dead.

It is a short step in Dickens's imagination from the peep-show atmosphere of the Paris morgue in 1856 to the ritual slaughter in the Place de la Révolution during Robespierre's "Reign of Terror" of 1793-1794. A Tale of Two Cities shows the dark side of urban theatricality, that a public appetite for glamorous "show" can rapidly degenerate into an insatiable hunger for "scenes of horror and demoralization." The essentially theatrical quality of Parisian social life produces a theatrical Revolution. At the revolutionary "trials" at the Hall of Examination, Madame Defarge, we are told, "clapped her hands as at a play." There is something uniquely Parisian, too, in the spectacle of the liberation of the Bastille (with only seven prisoners inside) and in the rituals of the Terror itself, as the tumbrils roll daily to the guillotine watched by knitting ladies, who take up seats in their favored spots each morning as if at a sideshow or circus. As Dickens describes it, even the victims of the Terror cannot escape the theatrical atmosphere of the proceedings. Among the condemned, "there are some so heedful of their looks that they cast upon the multitude such glances as they have seen in theatres, and in pictures." Contrast this with Charles Darnay, who, on trial for his life earlier in the novel, disdains "the play at the Old Bailey": He "neither flinched from the situation, nor assumed any theatrical air in it." Our hero disappoints us on occasion, but here, by resisting being converted into a spectacle, he defends the most important social principle of the novel: the dignity of the private citizen in the face of the howling mob.

Meet the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is probably the greatest novelist England has ever produced, the author of such well-known classics as A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life — along with his indelible characters — have made his books beloved by readers the world over.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 7, 1812
Date of Death:
June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:
Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:
Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

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A Tale of Two Cities 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 321 reviews.
bookfreakTX More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ever written. It has withstood the test of time. Most worthy to be called a classic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The audiobook mentioned was a selling point for me. It isn't a file, but a text internet address on the very last page of the ebook that the nook does not recognize as a hyperlink. Apparently this guy Sam Ngo went and found the free ebook with illustrations and also found a free audiobook file on an archive website somewhere and wrote out the file's internet address on the last page of the book and epub'd it. You would have to look up the file online from your computer, download the audiobook and physically hook up your nook to transfer the file from your computer to your nook. So why pay this guy 1.99? Just go out and find the free files yourself. Probably deleting this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles dickens,very good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easy read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the greatest written book in war times
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bit tricky to understand, but its really good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love reading this book. I did have to reread a few passages to get a better understanding but i still loved it. This book is not BORing YOU ARE!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A Tale of Two Cities is a very long, difficult book. Therefore, many people in my age group may enjoy the storyline while getting bored easily with the actual writing. The writing is beautiful, but it may be difficult to understand at first because of the higher English. I really enjoyed this book, it had a great plot and I am always a fan of stories about the French Revolution. I love how the story transports you to France for this story of brother turns on brother and of ultimate sacrifices. This story of a family battling against another for their lives is awe-insipring and there are plenty of twists to keep you on the edge of your seat. The amount of thought put into this plotline is immense, you have multiple characters that end up playing huge roles in the story. For example, Simon Carter makes the ultimate sacrifice and dies for his long-time friend so he can get out of the city alive. I think that it is completely accurate for this novel to be a classic, seeing as it highlights what happened to people during the revolution. Brother turned on brother and deep secrets were revealed for the sheer fact to reveal them. People were killed for reasons unknown and grudges could be taken out simply by hinting that someone was part of the monarchy. This caused them to be hunted down and tried for anything that might get them killed. Anyone can read this book, as long as they are willing to put in time and effort. I had to look up a few words, but it was worth it to read this story. To summarize, this book is a great book for anyone looking for a good, challenging book to read that illustrates the ups and downs of living in Revolutionary France.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the very best books I have ever read. A Tale of Two Cities is so good I read it once a year just to remember how good it truly is. You can never get burnt out on this book. Ok sure, it was required reading in my high school, but had it not been required, I never would have been introduced to this marvelous book. The way Dickens portrays the two cities and his characters are vivid and well thought out. This truly is a masterpiece writing!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lets do res one instead. Its empty.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This sucks like bad. Wish i could give -100000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 stars. :( NOT HAPPY.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mink is a grey/brown shewolf with a white belly and honey golden eyes. She loves pups and they like her too. She is currently an omega and loves to hunt and fight.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: ghost. Age: younger than some, older than some. Gender: female. Desc: a light gray with black paws and vivid green eyes. Rank: med wolf(kinda) personality: somewhat cold and depressing. She doesnt smile or laugh, but she isnt rude, just blunt. She doesnt lie, but will bend the truth if needed. She is smarter than most, but doesnt often show it. History: doesnt lik to talk out it. Mate/pups: none. Other: has been known to ramble randomly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Pyro.....Gender: Female....Appearance: Is a reddish wolf with black ears, paws, and the end of her tail. Her snout is white. She has a very broad structure and her shoulders are always pushed back to show a level of dominance. Has large paws......Personality: Is very mature, eccept for when she is with pups, is loyal, brave, and generally very serious when first meeting. She never backs down from a fight and will fight to the death if needed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Oasis <br> Gender: Female &female <br> Age: 16 in dog years. <br> Rank: Pack Wolf <p> Appearance: A slghtly fluffy yellow wolf. She has fur that relfects light on each strand, so it looks like she sparkles. Her eyes are dark blue and sprinkled with silver. <p> Mate: None <br> Crush: Unknown <br> Pups: None <p> Personality: Hard to explain. <p> Name: Claw <br> Gender: Male &male <br> Age: 6 in dog years. <br> Rank: Pack Pup? <p> Appearance: A kinda sorta fluffy white wolf, with splotches of sliver tipping some of his fur. His silver parts are not like the black on a cow, but you know what I mean. His eyes are light brown. <p> Personality: Also hard to explain. <P> Thanks now buh-bye.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gear takl gray wolf muscular looking for mate he is bi Bolts orge wolf sister of gear looking for a mate as well both older wolved
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name- ripper, mate - none, age-5, color- white wolf with deep black eyes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Andromeda <p> Nickname: Andro <p> Gender: Female <p> Rank: Regular Pack Wolf <p> Looks: Andro is a light red color, with a cream belly, forepaws, and chest. She looks just like her mother, Rose, and her grandmother, Willow. Her eyes are sky blue. <p> Mate: Spirit ((Missing but she will forever wait for him)) <p> Pups: Ember, Toby, Tiron, and Ocean ((All Spirit's)) <p> History: Andromeda was born in her mother's pack with her sister, Phoenix. She grew up there, and at two years of agewas seperated from Rose, Phoenix, and Demon, her father. She wandered for a long while before becoming Alpha Female of Nebula Pack with Spirit as her Alpha Male. The pack dissapated after many years, and she wandered until she found Phoenix, at which point they wandered together. She found Spirit once more before he dissapeared again, but this time she carried pups. She found a pack fast as possible, not wanting her pups to grow up lone wolves. <p> Family: <br> Mother ~ Rose ((Deceased)) <br> Father ~ Demon ((Missing)) <br> Grandmother ~ Willow ((Deceased))<br> Grandfather ~ Name Lost ((Deceased)) ((Sorry, this is all by memory.... I'll find his name soon.)) <br> Uncle ~ Matt ((Missing)) <p> Sister ~ Phoenix <p> <p> Name: Phoenix <p> Gender: Female <p> Rank: Regular Pack Wolf <p> Looks: Phoenix is a deep red color, like fire, which is what earned her her name. She has the typical amber eyes of a wolf. Her front left paw is white. <p> Mate/Crush/Pups: She hasn't found the right guy yet. <p> History: Like Andromeda, Phoenix was born at her mother's pack pack. At the age of two, she lost ehr sister. Her mother and father searced for many months but never found her. When her father dissapeared as well, Phoenix left. She joined a pack and quickly rose to Beta Female, but never found a mate, and left the pack when she found Andromeda. The rest matches Andromeda's history. <p> Family: Same except her sister is Andro, not herself. <p> Other: BOTH she-wolves are purebred Dire wolves, and alpha born. Very large, very dangerous when angered. <p> ((No I am not being a powerplayer. I have been rping this family for four years, starting with Willow, and now on these two. This is just the way it happened.))
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
|||Name: Calla |||Age: pup |||Gender: female |||Looks: a small red pup with white ears and tail. She is small for her age, but she is wicked fast and smart. Her eyes are very special, her left eye is a light blue color. Her right eye is a hazel and greem mix. Her eyes are always full of emotion. |||Persona: she is feirce, strong headed, and will protect |||Family: new mom- Elixer <3 |||other: ask
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 10 moons old i have blueish grayish eyes i have black and gray fur im a male no mate and im not looking for one im nice brave fast and strong i have a scar on my back leg from a fierce dog and i have no idea what else to say so hit the x bye!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Marri is a beautiful cream colored she wolf with rehuemy eyes and a brown muzzle. She is new.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago