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A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities


by Charles Dickens

Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

Think Dickens invented his accounts of the English court system? Think again:The Victorian Web includes a page with contemporary accounts of the Victorian court system. Here’s a sample:

"That small mirror in the wall, surely it must be used for ascertaining whether breath is left in a tortured victim; the wavy character of its surface precludes the idea of its being employed as a means to personal adornment, and the former use would be in keeping with the character of the room. Those ominous-looking boxes of wood and tin, in shape not unlike the human head, and labelled with names---what is their office? Is this the hangman's morgue, and is he allowed to keep the heads of decapitated felons to scare the living from crime, or to allow of phrenologists studying their science on the original busts?"

Wow. Pleasant, huh? (Source)

Want to know more about the French Revolution? Read on: The French Revolution was perhaps the single most important historical event in the nineteenth century. Wait…didn’t the French Revolution happen in the eighteenth century? Well, yes, but the after-effects of the revolution continued to be felt for nearly a century. Here’s a quick and easy way to bone up on the French Revolution. Impress your teachers and your friends. Read this.

A man named Elbert Hubbard wrote a book called Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great. Yes, it’s every bit as cheesy as it sounds. This book details the nitty-gritty of the rich and famous of his time. You could think of Elbert Hubbard as the gossip columnist of his generation. Come on, even his name sounds like a gossip columnist. Elbert? Seriously. He does have some pretty interesting observations about the life and times of the great author himself, though. Here’s Hubbard on Dickens’s style:
The novelist must have lived, and the novelist must have imagination. But this is not enough. He must have power to analyze and separate, and then he should have the good taste to select and group, forming his parts into a harmonious whole.

Yet he must build large. Life-size will not do: the statue must be heroic, and the artist's genius must breathe into its nostrils the breath of life.


Dickens' characters are personifications of traits, not men and women. Yet they are a deal funnier – they are as funny as a box of monkeys, as entertaining as a Punch-and-Judy show, as interesting as a "fifteen puzzle," and sometimes as pretty as chromos. […]

Dickens takes the horse, the eagle and the elephant and makes an animal of his own. He rubs up the feathers, places the tail at a fierce angle, makes the glass eyes glare, and you are ready to swear that the thing is alive.

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