Monday, June 29, 2009

I wasn't looking for a page turner, but good grief!

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Everyone knows that opening line. Okay, not everyone, but in an ideal America, one in which people read intellectual words instead of tweets about where their favorite person in the world happens to be breakfasting that morning, every person would know that that is the opening line of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I knew it was, but I had never read the book. It was time to remedy that. And it was time to read another classic to continue my resolution to read twelve classics in 2009. By the way, I just finished this book today and it is only my fifth. I am one book or, depending on how you look at it, one month behind schedule.

A Tale of Two Cities took a long time to read. I moved through the first 100 pages at a sufficient pace, but I had to take a break. I read two books during that break and decided to come back to Dickens exactly a week ago. I had been warned, perhaps in the introduction of the book, that Dickens is known for writing a lot of the twists, resolutions, and all around plot, into the last pages of his novels. This is true; I’d say the last 90 pages of this book finally made Dickens a good read for me.

I don’t know a lot of things about Dickens, but I’ll only highlight two facts that were unknown to me. I didn’t know that A Tale of Two Cities was historical fiction. I didn’t know that this book was about the French Revolution. Thus, my mind wasn’t prepared for historical fiction and, when you don’t know much about the French Revolution, reading a novel about it isn’t recommended.

I am ignorant, I guess, but I am not one to start a book and not finish it. As painful as it was at times, I am so glad I finished this book. I knew Dickens wouldn’t completely fail me. He didn’t. I am happy to have beaten this book. That’s the way I feel right now, like I’ve been in an all-out, no-holds-barred cage match with this thing for the last month and a half. It body-slammed me a few times and I thought I would never get up. But I pile drove it through my coffee table this week and satisfyingly slammed it shut when it was finished with its last words.

I could have written in fewer words, I just finished A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Out of 390 pages, 90 were excellent. Thank God I am done. Reading it gave me great interest in the French Revolution. Here is the rest of that famous quote:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.


Becca said...

I'm impressed! I tried to read Dickens once and I think I threw the book across the room after page 30 or so.

jarrod renaud said...

hey man. i finally got into Arcade Fire. Got both albums and freakin love them.