“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” and so begins Charles
Dickens’s historical novel set at the time of the French Revolution. This event
alongside the American Revolution set in motion the modern age, in its political
and social dimensions. The “Left” and the “Right” in their political usage had
their birth here. The Third Estate sat to the left in the National Assembly
Meetings and the First and Second Estates sat to the right. Modern democracy
and modern nationalism were born here. The Radical and Moderate
Enlightenment as well as the Counter-Enlightenments are in full view here.
With dramatic eloquence, Dickens brings to life a time of terror and treason.
This classic novel is brilliantly plotted, rich in drama, romance, and heroics that
culminate in a daring prison escape in the guillotine’s shadow. In it, Dickens
critiques both the conditions leading up to the French Revolution itself, the
Reign of Terror, offering dualities of political and social commentary as the
ultimate backdrop for an engrossing work of political fiction.
Class participants are expected to purchase the book ($6 on Amazon) or get a copy from the library.