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joi, 28 aprilie 2011

A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

”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.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.”
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ike the age he described in the famous opening of A Tale of Two Cities, the life of Charles Dickens contained both the best of times and the worst of times, its seasons of light and of darkness. Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1812. His family was lower-middle-class; his father was a clerk in a navy office. The Dickens family moved often. When Dickens was five, his family settled in the village of Chatham, where
the young boy spent five happy years. When Dickens was ten, the family had to move to a poor area of London because of his father’s finacial troubles. Two years later, Dickens’s father was imprisoned for debt in London’s Marshalsea Prison, and the boy was sent to work in a shoe polish factory to earn money. In a building he described later as a “crazy tumble-down old house . . . on the river . . . literally overrun with rats,”
he pasted labels on bottles of shoe blacking. These events permanently affected Dickens, and he returned to them often in his fiction. He likened the dark, dank shoe polish factory to a kind of living grave. The contrast between his happy school days and the misery of his life in the factory gnawed at him, and he later wrote: “No
words can express the secret agony of my soul. . . . even now, famous and happy, I . . . wander desolately
back to that time of my life.” Dickens’s childhood experiences made him all the more determined to succeed, and they also created in him a strong sympathy for the poor, which he never lost.”
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