OMG Dickens!

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


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…”




  1. Sally Allen

    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!


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