(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Tale of Two Cities

“He do the Police in different voices”…

Caricature of Charles Dickens, Alfred Bryan (1852–1899)
superimposed on
Our Mutual Friend, autograph manuscript, 1862–65, Charles Dickens (1812–1870)

Charles Dickens was Britain’s first true literary superstar; the greatest novelist of the Victorian period, he enjoyed unprecedented fame in his lifetime, in the U.K. and around the world.  And, of course, he remains a fixture of The Canon even today– his work is still not only widely read but also widely adapted for stage and screen.

In commemoration of Dickens’ bi-centennial (his two-hundredth birthday will be February 7), The Morgan Library is throwing a party: “Dickens at 200“:

The Morgan Library & Museum’s collection of Dickens manuscripts and letters is the largest in the United States and is one of the two greatest collections in the world, along with the holdings of Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum. Charles Dickens at 200 celebrates the bicentennial of the great writer’s birth in 1812 with manuscripts of his novels and stories, letters, books, photographs, original illustrations, and caricatures. Sweeping in scope, the exhibition captures the art and life of a man whose literary and cultural legacy is unrivaled.

The exhibit opens this week, and runs through February 12.

As we note that even though it was the best of times, it was also the worst of times, we might recall that it was on this date in 1856 that Revue de Paris published the first installment of Madame Bovary, by the Anti-Dickens, Gustave Flaubert. The novel’s final chapters ran on December 15, 1856; it was published in book form in 1857.

Title page of the first edition (source)

Top of the Pops…

After an author has been dead for some time, it becomes increasingly difficult for his publishers to get a new book out of him each year.
– Robert Benchley

source

From the always-amusing Mental Floss, a current read on The All-Time Best-Selling Books.  The top spots are held by volumes either instructional or devotional:

1. The Bible (6.7 billion copies)

2. Quotations from Chairman Mao, Mao Tse-Tung (900 million)

3. The Qur’an (800 million)

4. Xinhua Zidian (400 million — a Chinese dictionary, first published in 1953)

5. The Book of Common Prayer, Thomas Cranmer

6. Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan

7. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, John Foxe

8. The Book of Mormon, Joseph J. Smith, Jr.

But two works of fiction round out the Top Ten:

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling (107 million — UK title was …and the Philosopher’s Stone)

10. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie (100 million)

Read the full list (and find links to top lists of videos, games, and albums) at  The All-Time Best-Selling Books… dive more deeply into the rankings at Wikipedia— which observes:  “This is an incomplete list, which may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness.”  To put it politely:  note, e.g., that Tale of Two Cities and Tolkein’s work probably belong in MF’s Top Ten… Still, it’s fun…

“Classic.” A book which people praise and don’t read.
– Mark Twain

As we turn the page, we might recall that it was on this date in 1593 that poet and playwright (Shakespeare’s nearest rival) Christopher Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl.  Marlowe reputedly supplemented his income as a spy; in any case, he ran afoul of Queen Elizabeth’s government when, earlier in the month, his roommate, playwright Thomas Kyd was grilled by authorities.  Kyd  insisted that the “heretical” papers found in his room belonged to Marlowe, who was subsequently arrested, but was able to use his connections to arrange bail.  While out Marlowe became involved in a fight– ostensibly over a tavern bill, but believed by many to have been a set-up– and was stabbed to death.

The 1585 portrait discovered at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1953, believed to be of the 21-year-old Christopher Marlowe.  The inscribed motto is “QVOD ME NVTRIT ME DESTRVIT,” “that which nourishes me destroys me.”  Indeed.  (source)

 

We might note too that (as the Library of Congress recalls) it was on this date in 1868 that Commander in Chief John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic issued General Order Number 11 designating May 30 as a day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

The first national celebration of the holiday took place on that day at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. Originally known as Decoration Day, at the turn of the century it was designated “Memorial Day.”

%d bloggers like this: