A Tale of Two Cities differs essentially from all of Dickens' other novels in style and manner of treatment. Forster, in his 'Life of Dickens,' writes that "there is no instance in his novels excepting this, of a deliberate and planned departure from the method of treatment which had been pre-eminently the source of his popularity as a novelist." To rely less upon character than upon incident, and to resolve that his actors should be expressed by the story more than they should express themselves by dialogue, was for him a hazardous, and can hardly be called an entirely successful, experiment. With singular dramatic vivacity, much constructive art, and with descriptive passages of a high order everywhere, there was probably never a book by a great humorist, and an artist so prolific in conception, with so little humor and so few remarkable figures. Its merit lies elsewhere. The two cities are London and Paris. The time is just before and during the French Revolution. A peculiar chain of events knits and interweaves the lives of a "few simple, private people" with the outbreak of a terrible public event. Dr. Manette has been a prisoner in the Bastille for eighteen years, languishing there, as did so many others, on some vague unfounded charge. His release when the story opens, his restoration to his daughter Lucie, the trial and acquittal of one Charles Darnay, nephew of a French marquis, on a charge of treason, the marriage of Lucie Manette to Darnay,— these incidents form the introduction to the drama of blood which is to follow. Two friends of the Manette family complete the circle of important characters: Mr.
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