IIt 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 credulity, 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 the noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There was a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne in England; there was a king with a large jaw and the queen with a fair face, on the throne in 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.
I think this is the only book that would not allow the stultifying efforts of the English Literature teachers at Moorabbin Tech to blunt it’s brilliance no matter how hard they tried. A Tale of Two Cities would not submit to the tedium they tried to lay upon it the way so many other masterpieces had. I think it was the powerful images of the Dover mail making its way through the mist and mud that got me going, or maybe it was because I had seen the movie a few weeks earlier—the version with Dirk Bogarde which is generally regarded as the weakest one, but a feeble version of a Charles Dickens masterpiece still has a hell of a lot going for it. Of course eventually I saw the superior Roland Coleman version with the wonderful Rosalie Crutchley knitting away at the foot of the guillotine. All those heads dropping into baskets kept me there, right down to what might have been the first line of literature I ever learned to quote:
"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.”