By Charles Dickens, Richard Maxwell (editor)
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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin)
5). In the courtroom, correspondingly, a whisper, gesture or look from Carton can impel Stryver to a lengthy and (by most standards) overly demonstrative performance, whose gist has been relayed to him in an instant: Stryver, so to speak, provides the echoes of which Carton’s insights are the original cause. Even in its most expansive moments, the expressive sympathies of A Tale lie with Carton’s nuanced, gestural communications, where much is expressed, or perhaps just implied, in a moment. If the partnership of Carton and Stryver is indeed the appropriate test-case, then condensation can produce sustained intellectual clarity, a sure feeling for essentials and a perfect understanding of how to stir one’s audience.
5. 6. Albert Hutter, ‘Nation and generation in A Tale of Two Cities’, PMLA 93 (1978), 448–62. 7. On this point, see Andrew Sanders, The Victorian Historical Novel 1840–1880 (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1979), p. 88. 8. Tidkins appears in Reynolds’s lurid, lengthy, surpassingly popular and much-condemned serial, The Mysteries of London, 4 vols. (London: George Vickers, 1846). See especially Mysteries, I, ch. 27, where Tidkins is interestingly juxtaposed with a venerable Republican agitator, quite a different sort of man.
Lorry looks all evening for the ‘hundreds of people’ whom he has been led to expect, but only a few appear; the ‘hundreds’ in question remain only echoes, ‘echoes of other steps that never came’. There are occasions in A Tale when hundreds, even thousands, of people do appear. The novel describes several scenes from the French Revolution which would call (and every so often have called) on the full resources of a major Hollywood studio. Furthermore, of all Dickens’s books, with the exception of Barnaby Rudge (1841), this one has the clearest claim to belong to that ambitious genre, historical fiction.
A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin) by Charles Dickens, Richard Maxwell (editor)