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By Charles Dickens, Richard Maxwell (editor)

ISBN-10: 0141933798

ISBN-13: 9780141933795

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Like Young, furthermore, Dickens appeals to the prudential sentiments of the middle classes in his own country – and may indirectly be arguing for the extension of the franchise, according to a plan devised by the novel’s dedicatee, John Russell. 15 At the same time, he manifests none of Croker’s emotional investment in the Old Regime, nor does he share Carlyle’s deep longing for masterful figures of authority and his sense that the destructiveness of the Revolution was in fact a creative negation, contributing to human progress rather than just delaying it.

31 It is not only, however, the possibility of direct influence which might interest readers at this chronological and cultural distance. Two further points deserve emphasis. First, there is the fact that Hugo too should have connected familial relations and national politics through the medium of a nearly solipsistic father–daughter connection: neither fathers nor daughters are supposed to live for the other alone, so, in both cases, the novelist is compelled to conceive of a larger milieu, a world beyond the obsession he has evoked; history provides an escape from the way that families can spiral in upon themselves.

In his Travels in France, Arthur Young, for instance, wrote that: It is impossible to justify the excesses of the people on their taking up arms; they were certainly guilty of cruelties; it is idle to deny the facts … But is it really the people to whom we are to impute the whole? – Or to their oppressors who had kept them so long in a state of bondage? He who chooses to be served by slaves, and by ill-treated slaves, must know that he holds both his property and life by a tenure far different from those who prefer the service of well treated freemen; and he who dines to the music of groaning sufferers must not, in the moment of insurrection, complain that his daughters are ravished and then destroyed and that his sons’ throats are cut.

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A Tale of Two Cities (Penguin) by Charles Dickens, Richard Maxwell (editor)

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