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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Your 'make it or break it' opening


"It 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 incredulity, 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 its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Opening lines of books often can make or break them, and one of the most famous of all times, despite its “run-on” nature, is the opening by Charles Dickens’ to A Tale of Two Cities.  It not only introduces what would become one of the 100 greatest books of all time but also the universal nature of the book, the French Revolution, and the drama depicted within its pages. 
Dickens, the most popular novelist of his time, remains one of the best known and most read. His works have never gone out of print and have been adapted continually for the screen since the invention of cinema, with at least 200 motion pictures and TV adaptations so far.  Many of his works also were adapted for the stage, the most famous being the beloved A Christmas Carol.
What made him (and still makes him) one of the best novelists was his creation of memorable characters, many of which took on lives of their own or became part of our vernacular outside of his books.  Think “Scrooge,” for example.   
His biographer Claire Tomalin regards him as the greatest creator of character in English fiction after only William Shakespeare.  He captured the imagery of his era and gave the world a view of Victorian England that remains as vivid today as it was in its own time.

Charles Dickens – born Feb. 7, 1812

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