June 11, 2012
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A Tale of Two Cities: Chapter 3

I’m back to tell you that I have made it to chapter 3!  Yay me!  I have only been tempted to quit about 10 times – especially when I hit this passage:

“Tellson’s Bank had a run upon it in the mail.  As the bank passenger – with an arm drawn through the leathern strap, which did what lay in it to keep him from pounding against the next passenger, and driving him into his corner, whenever the coach got a special jolt – nodded in his place, with half-shut eyes, the little coach-windows, and the coach-lamp dimly gleaming through them, and the bulky bundle of opposite passenger, became the bank, and did a great stroke of business.  The rattle of the harness was the chink of money, and more drafts were honoured in five minutes than even Tellson’s, with all its foreign and home connection, ever paid in thrice the time.”

I've figured out that the ‘mail’ is a stagecoach – perhaps carrying letter-mail from one place to another – and it only took me at least 3 readings to ascertain that the man of whom Dickens is speaking was dreaming and that the bank didn’t actually have a ‘run’ on it 'in the mail'.  And then I thought, what a creative way to introduce a dream sequence.  In books these days you would read, “And the guy fell asleep and dreamed…blah blah blah”, boring.  The passage that followed was a particularly cryptic dream sequence that did not disappoint either, and I am now on the hook to find out what in the world it could mean.  I won’t spoil it for you…so if you haven’t read this book, do go ahead and read it.  It’s proving to be delightful so far. 

I particularly liked this passage:

“A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other.  A solemn consideration, when I enter a great city by night, that every one of those darkly clustered houses encloses its own secret; that every room in every one of them encloses its own secret; that every beating heart in the hundreds of thousands of breasts there, is, in some of its imaginings, a secret to the heart nearest it!”

I have often thought this when driving through unknown places; how many live in this home, what’s the life story in that home, what are their joys and sufferings?  And I felt a strange affinity for Charles, that he felt the same way too all those years ago.  I love how he refers to the ‘profound secret and mystery’ of every human creature, giving this sense of depth and beauty to the human person as a prologue to the banker’s dream.  Dickens’s words have a way of speaking to the soul.

I have thanked my mom for enjoying this book so much, and I will read on – pleased to say I’m enjoying myself as well.


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