A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin English Library)
One of Dickens’s most haunting novels, A Tale of Two Cities has, since its first serial publication in 1859, continued to exert a grip on the popular imagination. The two cities of the title — a lethal, vengeful Paris during the French Revolution and a leafy, tranquil London — are only one of the novel’s stark dichotomies, which are continued as Syndey Carton and Charles Darnay are drawn toward their separate destinies — their lives touched by the same woman.
In his absorbing Introduction, Richard Maxwell discusses the novel’s intricate design, in which Dickens magnificently interweaves epic drama with personal tragedy. Comparing it to Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Maxwell argues that A Tale of Two Cities “stands as Dickens’s most memorable effort to see a world in a very small space; a work short by its nature … yet curiously at its ease among giants”.