Charles Dickens' compelling portrait of the results of terror and treason, love and supreme sacrifice continues to captivate readers around the world. With Frank Muller's brilliant performance, unforgettable charactersthe ever-knitting Madame Defarge, the lovely Lucie Manette, her broken father, the honorable Charles Darnay, and the sometimes scurrilous Sydney Cartonburst from the pages, full of life and passion.
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About the Author
Andrew Sanders is a lecturer in English at Birkbeck College, London. He is Honorary Editor of The Dickensian, and editor of Barry Lyndon by William Makepeace Thackerary, and Sylvia's Lovers by Mrs Gaskell, both in The World's Classics series.
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
Education:Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington
Read an Excerpt
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 wayin 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.
There were a king with a large jaw, and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw, and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.
France, less favoured on the whole as to matters spiritual than her sister of the shield and trident, rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it. Under the guidance of her Christian pastors, she entertained herself, besides, with such humane achievements as sentencing a youth to have his hands cut off, his tongue torn out with pincers, and his body burned alive, because he had not kneeled down in the rain to do honour to a dirty procession of monks which passed within his view, at a distance of some fifty or sixty yards. It is likely enough that, rooted in the woods of France and Norway, there were growing trees, when that suffer was put to death, already marked by the Woodman, Fate, to come down and be sawn into boards, to make a certain movable framework with a sack and a knife in it, terrible in history. It is likely enough that in the rough outhouses of some tillers of the heavy lands adjacent to paris, there were sheltered from the weather that very day, rude carts, bespattered with rustic mire, snuffed about by pigs, and roosted in by poultry, which the Farmer, Death, had already set apart to be his tumbrils of the Revolution. But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that they were awake, was to be atheistical and traitorous.
In England, there was scarcely an amount of order and protection to justify much national boasting. Daring burglaries by armed men, and highway robberies, took place in the capital itself every night; families were publicly cautioned not to go out of town without removing their furniture to upholsterers' warehouses for security; the highwayman in the dark was a City tradesman in the light, and, being recognised and challenged by his fellow-tradesman whom he stopped in his character of "the Captain," gallently shot him through the head and rode away; the mail was waylaid by seven robbers, and the guard shot three dead, and then got shot dead himself by the other four, "in consequence of the failure of his ammunition": after which the mail was robbed in peace; that magnificent potentate, the lord Mayor of london, was made to stand and deliver on Turnham Green by one highwayman, who despoiled the illustrious creature in sight of all his retinue; prisoners in London gaols fought battles with their turnkeys, and the majesty of the law fired blunderbusses in among them, loaded with rounds of shot and ball; thieves snipped off diamond crosses from the necks of noble lords at Court drawing-rooms; musketeers went into St. Gile's, to search for contraband goods, and the mob fired on the musketeers, and the musketeers fired on the mob, and nobody thought any of these occurrences much out of the common way. In the midst of them, the hangman, ever busy and ever worse than useless, was in constant requisition; now, stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now, hanging a housebreaker on Saturday who had been taken on Tuesday; now, burning people in the hand at Newgate by the dozen, and now, burning pamphlets at the door of Westminster Hall; to-day, taking the life of an atrocious murderer, and to-morrow of a wretched pilferer who had robbed a farmer's boy of sixpence.
All these things, and a thousand like them, came to pass in and close upon the dear old year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Environed by them, while the Woodman and the Farmer worked unheeded, those two of the large jaws, and those other two of the plain and the fair faces, trod with stir enough, and carried their divine rights with a high hand. Thus did the year one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five conduct their Greatnesses, and myriads of small creaturesthe creatures of this chronicle among the restalong the roads that lay before them.
All new material in this edition is copyright © 1998 Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
Table of Contents
|Insights into Charles Dickens|
|Book 1||Recalled to Life|
|Chapter 1||The Period||16|
|Chapter 2||The Mail||20|
|Chapter 3||The Night Shadows (Summary)||27|
|Chapter 4||The Preparation||28|
|Chapter 5||The Wine-Shop||41|
|Chapter 6||The Shoemaker||53|
|Book 2||The Golden Thread|
|Chapter 1||Five Years Later (Summary)||67|
|Chapter 2||A Sight||69|
|Chapter 3||A Disappointment||77|
|Chapter 4||Congratulatory (Summary)||92|
|Chapter 5||The Jackal||94|
|Chapter 6||Hundreds of People (Summary)||101|
|Chapter 7||Monseigneur in Town (Summary)||103|
|Chapter 8||Monseigneur in the Country (Summary)||104|
|Chapter 9||The Gorgon's Head||105|
|Chapter 10||Two Promises||119|
|Chapter 11||A Companion Picture (Summary)||127|
|Chapter 12||The Fellow of Delicacy (Summary)||128|
|Chapter 13||The Fellow of No Delicacy||129|
|Chapter 14||The Honest Tradesman||134|
|Chapter 16||Still Knitting||157|
|Chapter 17||One Night (Summary)||169|
|Chapter 18||Nine Days||170|
|Chapter 19||An Opinion||177|
|Chapter 20||A Plea (Summary)||185|
|Chapter 21||Echoing Footsteps||186|
|Chapter 22||The Sea Still Rises||199|
|Chapter 23||Fire Rises (Summary)||205|
|Chapter 24||Drawn to the Loadstone Rock||207|
|Book 3||The Track of A Storm|
|Chapter 1||In Secret||221|
|Chapter 2||The Grindstone (Summary)||234|
|Chapter 3||The Shadow||236|
|Chapter 4||Calm in Storm (Summary)||242|
|Chapter 5||The Wood-Sawyer (Summary)||244|
|Chapter 7||A Knock at the Door (Summary)||254|
|Chapter 8||A Hand at Cards||255|
|Chapter 9||The Game Made||268|
|Chapter 10||The Substance of the Shadow||283|
|Chapter 11||Dusk (Summary)||298|
|Chapter 14||The Knitting Done||321|
|Chapter 15||The Footsteps Die Out Forever||334|
What People are Saying About This
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.