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Joel and Amy’s Blog

It is a far, far better thing…

March 19th, 2008 Posted in Reading


“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.”

These last words in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities touched me as I finished the book a few days ago.  This wonderful story, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, shows us the redemption of a loathsome and pitiable drunkard of a man named Sydney Carton.  He is just one of many characters that together assemble a wonderful mosaic of a story.

Dickens’ writing is frequently criticized for its sentimentality.  My personal experience has been that this only serves to make his tales seem more powerful.

Ernest Hemingway has a great quote regarding writing:

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belong to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”

I’ve certainly been left feeling “all that happened” to me after reading David Copperfield and A Tale of Two Cities.  To this day I can draw parallels in my own life from characters in David Copperfield such as Uriah Heep, Dora Spenlow, Mr. Micawber, Agnes Wickfield, etc.  Certainly none of the parallels are perfect, but Dickens’ writing always seems to fit the Hemingway model for a good book.

As a side note, while I appreciate the quote from Hemingway I can’t stand his writing!  Maybe because I don’t want to be made to feel like a drunk old man who defines his life by fishing.


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