"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."
I finished reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens yesterday afternoon. I had to read it for my Senior Year Literature class. I was convinced I was not going to like it at all, because I read Oliver Twist in like, 8th grade, and was, quite frankly, not ready to appreciate great literature. I also 'sort of'' read A Christmas Carol, but I mostly skimmed it because of my intense dislike of Oliver Twist.
So, yep, I finished the book....
I'm not even kidding.
This was my favorite (and also the most heart-wrenching) part:
The supposed Evremonde descends, and the seamstress is lifted out next after him. He has not relinquished her patient hand in getting out, but still holds it as he promised. He gently places her with her back to the crashing engine that constantly whirrs up and falls, and she looks into his face and thanks him.
"But for you, dear stranger, I should not be so composed, for I am naturally a poor little thing, faint of heart; nor should I have been able to raise my thoughts to Him who was put to death, that we might have hope and comfort here to-day. I think you were sent to me by Heaven."
"Or you to me," says Sydney Carton. "Keep your eyes upon me, dear child, and mind no other object."
"I mind nothing while I hold your band. I shall mind nothing when I let it go, if they are rapid."
"They will be rapid. Fear not!"
"You comfort me so much! I am so ignorant. Am I to kiss you now? Is the moment come?"
She kisses his lips; he kisses hers; they solemnly bless each other. The spare hand does not tremble as he releases it; nothing worse than a sweet, bright constancy is in the patient face. She goes next before him- is gone; the knitting-women count Twenty-Two.
"I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."
The murmuring of many voices, the upturning of many faces, the pressing on of many footsteps in the outskirts of the crowd, so that it swells forward in a mass, like one great heave of water, all flashes away. Twenty-Three. (The Footsteps Die Out, A Tale of Two Cities) source
Sydney Carton is sitting in the prison, waiting to be executed so the woman he loves won't lose her husband. He starts talking to the seamstress. They ride to the place of execution with 53 other innocent people. They're standing at the scaffolding, waiting to die. They are just standing there, talking to each other like nothing in the world is wrong. And than he kisses her goodbye, and in less than ten seconds, they're both dead.
I completely lost it. I finished the book and wandered around my room (which is quite small) for almost ten minutes, just sobbing. It positively rendered my heart in two.
That book was seriously the most fantastic piece of literature on the face of the planet. I couldn't even write my paper on it yesterday...I felt like my heart had been dragged across a mile of gravel. It was so incredible, and I felt like I was there for pretty much the entire book. I couldn't keep from imagining how I would feel if I was in Sydney Carton's place...but especially the seamstress's place. I would be so terrified. And there's nothing I like better than a book that makes me feel and see and hear exactly what is going on.
What's interesting is this book almost killed my best friend, because he hated it. Well, it almost killed me, too, but definitely NOT because I didn't enjoy it.
I usual don't like things that are 'popular' in literature, but I completely understand why this novel is as famous and highly revered as it is. I feel horrible for every time I said "Dickens is boring" before now. I can't say I enjoyed Oliver Twist at all, or that I put any effort into reading A Christmas Carol, but this book? It is flawless.
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done;
it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."