reading / teaching / the classics club / writing

A Tale of Two Cities

The first time I read this was in ninth grade and most of it was covered while in class (I don’t believe we read a lot at home). I remember it being difficult and it taking a really long time, so long that we had to rush through reading Romeo & Juliet to end the school year.

I also remember really liking the story, enough that I’ve tried to read several Dickens’ novels since without much luck. I get lost in the verbosity and often just give up. But since I was teaching it, it was nice to come back to it with an adult’s eyes and see just how good it really is.

Getting my students to read it was/is a challenge. They see the dozens and dozens of words (uncommon words) and they shut down. I’ll have to figure out a better way to present the work for next year because this year didn’t go as well as I wish it had.

But the story still gets me. It takes ages for it to really pick up in plot because so much of the beginning seems unnecessary to a modern reader, but you need all of that exposition and knowledge of the characters and their experiences to make the ending hit like it does. And I totally teared up. Even knowing how it all ends.

I enjoyed going through it, catching the foreshadowing (so much) and symbolism. I dislike Lucie Manette because she’s as good and dull as can possibly be (Victorian ideals, I suppose), but I love Sydney Carton even though I’m sure I wouldn’t want a person like him in my life. My students were upset at how his story ends, but it had to end that way or he wouldn’t be the great character that he is in British Literature.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to reread A Tale of Two Cities because I’d always wanted to after ninth grade, but I’m not great at picking up classics to reread just on a whim. I need incentive.

Maybe I’ll finally get round to reading David Copperfield soon.



© ecnewman, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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