A Tale of Two Cities.
With illustrations by H. K. Browne.
London, Chapman & Hall, 1859
With one of the most famous opening sentences in history, A Tale of Two Cities ranks among the novelist's finest, anatomising the conflict between democratic and aristocratic principles during the French revolution.
An 'intensely cold mist' covers the land 'like an evil spirit'. After 18 years as a political prisoner, Doctor Manette is released and reunited with his daughter, the beguiling Lucie, who captivates the affections of two suitors, an aristocratic Frenchman named Darnay and the English lawyer, Carton. This tale of two cities (London and Paris) is also a tale of three lovers, with a plot-twist of self-sacrifice inspired by Wilkie Collins' play The Frozen Deep, in which Dickens acted.
Epic in historical scale, it is also an intimate book, showing how the personal and political intermingle and what the causes and effects of violence are, including the struggle to retain one's sanity under systemic abuse. Dickens focuses throughout on two sets of relationships: between father and daughter, and between subject and state. Those facing the guillotine do not hope to gain the "pity of the people", but it is a measure of Dickens's skill that he makes us feel sympathy towards them.
First edition, first issue; 8vo (220 x 150 mm); 16 engraved plates (including additional title and frontispiece) by Hablot K. Browne, very occasional light spotting to plates but in the main, unusually clean and bright; near-contemporary half-calf over marbled boards, matching endpapers and edges, worn and rubbed at extremities but sound; otherwise a very good copy indeed.
Eckel, pp.86-90; Smith I, pp. 96-98.
We offer secure and express delivery on all local and international orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website.
Shapero Rare Books is an internationally renowned dealer in antiquarian & rare books and works on paper.
Our Bookshop and Gallery can be found in the heart of Mayfair at 106 New Bond Street, where most of our stock is available to view and on public display.
We exhibit at major international art fairs, including TEFAF (Maastricht and New York), Frieze Masters, Art Miami and Masterpiece London, as well as antiquarian & rare book fairs including New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hong Kong.