Just finished reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  (I’d read parts before, but don’t think I’d ever read it all straight through.)

I was struck by how deeply the novel has seeped into our culture: if asked, I’d probably have said that Madame Defarge was a real person in the Terror, not a fictional character.

Of course, both the opening and closing lines have been quoted and parodied ad nauseum:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ….


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.

One thing baffled me: how did M. Defarge know to look for the letter that Dr. Manette hid in his cell at the Bastille?