Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities and Carlyle's The French Revolution (1983)

Five Thursdays: May 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm


$135.00 (10% off for members)

Recalled to Life:  Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities and Carlyle’s The French Revolution

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.” 

With a hint of night shadows, Dickens opens the tale of the faded Dr Manette, wrongfully imprisoned in the Bastille for eighteen years, suddenly freed to reunite with Lucie, a daughter he never knew, on the English side of the channel. Meanwhile, the unrest of the dispossessed grows in the Paris that Manette has left. It is 1775, and the knives are sharpening, the pistols stowed for future blame and bloodshed between the city's underclass and a heedless aristocracy. In the darkness that is falling, allegiances are obscured as spies, schemers, slippery barristers, and grave robbers move stealthily amidst the confusion of a gluttonous and grossly imbalanced social system that will soon be toppled on its head.

 Serialized between April and November 1859 in Dickens’s new journal All the Year Round,  the novel echoes the recent tumult of Dickens’s own life--the separation from his wife Catherine, and his aspirations for a second chance, embodied in the persons of Lucie Manette and Charles Darnay, united only by way of heroic sacrifice. It is a compact but colorful story, written with the economy of poetry and the three-act structure of a contemporary play, while drawing its imposing contextual material from a history three times its size.  A book which Dickens claimed to have read over 500 hundred times, Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution— in its grand style and story-telling flourish, if not its subject matter— had been seared into his novelistic soul.    

Over the course of six weeks, we will be reading the novel and its epic forerunner in tandem, tracing the genesis of a treasured fiction from the glorious annals of history.

While I recommend reading the whole of TTC before we begin, we will be discussing chapters in this order, alongside selections from Carlyle's tome.

For the first class, please read part I, and the introduction to TTC in whichever edition you use; as well as the first half of Part I (The Bastille)-Book I-III in Caryle’s The French Revolution.

For the second class, June 6, The Frenach Revolution, please read through Book V, the end of "The Third Estate" within the volume entitled “The Bastille” books VI and VII  in Carlyle. 

For A Tale of Two Cities, please read up to Chapter 12, in Book II, "The Fellow of Delicacy" 

For the third class, June 13,  please read the rest of Book 2 in TTC,  and finish "The Bastille" (VI and VII) in Carlyle.

For the fourth class, June 20, please read to Chapter 10, The Substance of the Shadow, and Part III, The Guillotine, books I and II, in Carlyle.

For the fifth class, June 27, please read to the end of TTC, and The Guillotine, Books IV and V in Carlyle.

Five Thursdays: May 30, June 6, 13, 20, 27 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Edition: Signet edition of A Tale of Two Cities

Oxford World Classics Edition of Carlyle's French Revolution

Nicole Miller's prize-winning essays have appeared recently in New Letters and Arts & Letters magazines. Her fiction has been published twice in The Mays, edited by Jill Paton Walsh and Sebastian Faulks. She received an M.Phil. in Victorian Literature from Lincoln College, Oxford; a PhD in English at University College, London; and an MFA at Emerson College, Boston, where she held the Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. At The Oxford English Dictionary, she has served as a scholarly reader for British Dialects since 2002. She edits faculty manuscripts in Harvard’s English Department and teaches nineteenth and twentieth century British literature at Politics and Prose in Washington D.C.

REFUND POLICY: Please note that we can issue class refunds up until seven (7) days before the first class session.

SKU: Dickens1983ClassProduct
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A Tale of Two Cities Cover Image
By Charles Dickens, Frederick Busch (Introduction by), A.N. Wilson (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9780451530578
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Signet - February 6th, 2007

The French Revolution (Oxford World's Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780198815594
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - April 1st, 2019