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A Tale of Two Cities A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is an historical fiction novel set in 1775- 1793 in the cities of Paris and London The French Revolution serves as the historical backdrop to the story The reliability and usefulness of A Tale of Two Cities in adding knowledge and understanding of the Reign of Terror in France will be examined Charles Dickens wrote this book in 1859 in London sixty years after the key events mentioned in the book He was greatly influenced by The French Revolution a book written by the historian Thomas Carlyle in 1837 for information on the time period event though it was decades old He agreed with Carlyle that the Revolution was the necessary and inevitable outcome of the French aristocracys oppressive power Emotionally however Dickens feared the violence of the patriots far more than he did the abuses of aristocrats like Monseigneur This ambivalence is the reason that Dickens is so sketchy on actual dates and events of the Revolution Rather than explain the political situation he simply gives vivid impressions of how it must have felt to live through those times He states in the preface Whenever any reference is made here to the condition of the French people before or during the Revolution it is truly made on the faith of the most trustworthy witnesses so on this topic he bases all his information on other sources That Dickens relied so heavily on decades old secondary sources undermines its actual reliability in providing an accurate account of the historical period Dickens sets the atmosphere of a grim world of the very poor and the conditions of Francess streets as they were at the time The peasants hated the aristocrats because of their status and the fact that they were treated so harshly This is is revealed by a man who yells to Monseigneur I devote you to
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