OMG Dickens!

So, I’m reading A Tale of Two Cities, one of Charles Dickens’ better known books.

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I am increasingly of the opinion that he is the greatest writer of all time. I admit that he is at times overly melodramatic and that his plots contain a little too much coincidence for some, but I stand by my assertions. No writer matches Dickens.

Ok, maybe that Shakespeare fellow, but that’s it. I posted something in this vein over on Google Plus, and was asked, by Ehtisham Hussain, one of many great writery people I met through social media, with whether Orwell and Twain might not be up to the task. My answer was no. Each of those have two well-known books to their name (maybe three) but Dickens was really prolific and his output is unbelievable. I think Tolstoy may be the only match for his talents.

Here is an example, from A Tale of Two Cities, where he is describing the state of the common people in pre-revolutionary France.

Hunger was pushed out of the tall houses, in the wretched clothing that hung upon poles and lines; Hunger was patched into them with straw and rag and wood and paper; Hunger was repeated in every fragment of the small modicum that the man sawed off; Hunger stared down from the smokeless chimneys…

Or this, describing the mood in a wine shop in France, and thus the underlying anger in France in general.

Monsieur Defarge sold a very thin wine at the best of times, but it would seem to have been unusually thin wine that he sold at this time. A sour wine, moreover, or a souring, for its influence on the mood of those who drank it was to make them gloomy. No vivacious Bacchanalian flame leaped out of the pressed grape of Monsieur Defarge; but, a snouldering fire that burnt in the dark, lay hidden in the dregs of it.

The beginning fo the book is also one of the more famous in literature. So well-known is it, in fact, that I only need supply you with the first line, and I am sure the rest will play itself in your mind.
“It was the best of times…”

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  1. I will read more Dickens now. 🙂

  2. Dickens is the best. It’s kind of scary, actually. The only potential downside is that it takes forever to get through his books because I have to stop and reread everything three times because it’s so brilliant. 🙂 Dickens!

    • Read Hard Times next… it short.

      • Yes! His shortest, I think. I actually read it last summer. 🙂 I just started The Old Curiosity Shop, which I’ve never read before!