September 08, 2008

TBR3: A Tale of Two Cities -Anna Who?

Are you reading?

Greetings, Dickensians. Let me light a candle... There. That's better.

Does anyone else feel like it's always dark in this book?
It's amazing how Dickens does that atmospheric thing -- it's dark-dark, all the time. Even first thing in the morning with Mr. Jerry Cruncher at court, somehow it's still... dark. Odd, that.

Another funny-odd thing: Wimpy Miss Manette's forehead. I have to giggle at how many times we are given to understand that she has a "strikingly expressive" forehead. And everyone else suddenly had a forehead I had to notice. I really want to know what an expressive forehead looks like. I shall now assay to write this with a properly expressive countenance...

Onward: to the text!

Book 2

Ch. 1
(Mr. Cruncher himself always spoke of the year of our Lord as Anna Dominoes: apparently under the impression that the Christian era dated from the invention of a popular game, by a lady who had bestowed her name upon it.) p. 48

Poor Mrs. Cruncher... surrounded by her family, who are certifiably insane... I love that Jerry Jr. is already trying to figure his father out. What's with the rust? And the mud? CSI Whitefriars.

Ch. 2
The punishment for Treason is heinous, and...guaranteed.
     "Ah!" returned the man, with a relish; "he'sll be drawn on a hurdle to be half hanged, and then he'll be taken down and sliced before his own face, and then his insides will be taken out and burnt while he looks on, and then his head will be chopped off, and he'll be cut into quarters. That's the sentence."
     "If he's found Guilty, you mean to say?" Jerry added, by way of proviso.
     "Oh! they'll find him guilty," said the other. "Don't you be afraid of that."
p. 54


I'm beginning to understand all the revolts throughout history.

Meanwhile, it turns out that Jerry Sr.'s rust is... something he sucks off of his fingers. Euuuch.

Ch. 3 - 4
The dreadful word 'patriot' is used for someone who, finding out the "infamy" of a friend, "had resolved to immolate the traitor he could no longer cherish to his bosom, on the sacred altar of his country. In this chapter, Dickens is SO ironic, so dry-witted, that even though most of what he's saying in this section is horrendous -- and certainly doesn't do more for me than most opening arguments at court -- it's horribly funny.

Ch. 5
"Those were drinking days, and most men drank hard." Understatement, much? According to the OED, a "bumper" is a massive glass of alcohol, which is often poured in this section, and sucked down by towel-swaddled Mr. Carton. For all that there should be an air of celebration here, except for the occasionally flung glass, there's not.

Poor Jackal. I think that the final lines of this chapter poignantly well describe many, many people:
Sadly, sadly the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.
That's the pure definition of tragic, right there.

A day at court, stretched into five chapters. Eventually, there must be something important we'll glean from this... other than that disgusting rust...

Ciao, ciao, until our next glorious interlude of inverted sentence structure and meandering description a la Dickens.

2 comments:

Heidi said...

what is with that towel-swaddling, anyway? I couldn't quite picture it...does he look like a swami? Does it keep him alert while he drinks all night?

a. fortis said...

I've gotten a tad behind on my reading, but that Anna Dominoes thing cracked me up. I think I'm on Chapter II of Book II...must find some time tonight to get back on track!