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Today I Learned – A Tale of Two Cities Edition

Today I Learned (TIL) is my play on Reddit’s highly entertaining and informative forum.

Now that I’m deep into Book Two of A Tale of Two Cities, I can honestly say I love the way Dickens writes. I agree he is very wordy and I often get tangled up in what it means, but there are always some hilarious gems in all that wordiness. I’m wondering where we are going with all these characters, as there is no clear plot, but I trust Dickens is setting us up for some fun.

In the meantime, I couldn’t resist taking a look at some of the places A Tale of Two Cities has intersected with popular culture. Here we go!

Ricky Gervais Loves Dickens

Whether you love him or loathe him, comedian Ricky Gervais called TV show, The Wire, “the most important fictional, social document since A Tale Of Two Cities”. Quite sincerely, he also added, “Dickens was the coolest mother****** of his day, I’ll have you know.” And just like Laura and Naomi, he’s a big fan of The Muppets Christmas Carol.

gervais

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The Simpsons – Last Exit to Springfield – Season 4, Episode 17

Of course, you can’t have a TIL without The Simpsons. In this episode, the writers have fun with the infinite monkey theory that, hypothetically, a chimpanzee typing at random would eventually produce a major work of literature. In this case, one thousand of Mr. Burns’ monkeys can’t even get the famous first line of A Tale of Two Cities correct.

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The Dark Knight Rises

Before the movie premiered in 2012, director Christopher Nolan revealed that the screenplay by co-writer Jonathan Nolan was heavily influenced by A Tale of Two Cities and especially inspired how his trilogy would conclude. “What Dickens does in that book in terms of having all his characters come together in one unified story with all these thematic elements and all this great emotionalism and drama, it was exactly the tone we were looking for.” Commissioner Gordon reads a quote from the book at the end of the movie.

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Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

A Tale of Two Cities must have also influenced the screenplay writers for The Wrath of Khan, as the themes of friendship and sacrifice are shared by the two stories. In addition, Captain Kirk and Spock quote the book in the movie.

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Oprah’s Book Club

In 2010, Oprah’s Book Club chose to read A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. “Going old school, people,” she declared. She used a special Penguin edition that contained both novels. I always wondered what Charles Dickens would think about being chosen by Oprah and then I discovered this video which is pure awesomeness. Enjoy!

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11 comments on “Today I Learned – A Tale of Two Cities Edition

  1. Naomi
    May 1, 2014

    Where do you come up with this stuff? Well, I know you google it, but still…:) Yes, I do love The Muppet Christmas Carol, and I think the Muppets would be great in any Dickens book. I also think Dickens, himself, would like it!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 2, 2014

      Yes, I love Google! I agree that Dickens would probably like a Muppet version of all his books.

      Like

  2. Aw Star Trek! I’d forgotten Tale of Two Cities was referenced in the movie! I loved this book – but I remember how difficult it was for me to get into it at first – I had to return it to the library the first time, not having gotten more than 100 pages into it and then found out I would have to read it for high school so that finally got me to finish it. And I was so happy I did!

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 2, 2014

      I’m enjoying the book, but there are many times when I don’t understand what they are saying. For me, classics take a lot of concentration and energy to read. But very worth it!

      Like

  3. I love it when classic literature comes up in everyday, modern entertainment.

    A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite all time memorable reads. Dickens is a pro at pulling all his characters together by the very end. If you are interested in a film version of TTC, you can watch the entire 1980 movie, starring Chris Sarandon, on Youtube.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 2, 2014

      Thanks for the movie suggestion! I was surprised no one has attempted to make a more recent movie, but maybe that’s a good thing. 🙂

      Like

  4. Pingback: A Tale of Two Cities Read-Along: Knitting for Dummies | Reading in Bed

  5. lauratfrey
    May 5, 2014

    Today *I* learned something! I watched the Oprah video and saw Jonathan Frazen was sitting there – what the?? So I learned that he was on the show in 2010 because Freedom was a book club pick! I have a love/hate thing for Jonathan Franzen so now I’m watching clips from his part of the show… he’s such a snob lol.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      May 6, 2014

      LOL, I didn’t see him! I remember you said you have a love/hate thing for him. I’m going to have to go view those clips too.

      Like

  6. friendlybookworm
    August 2, 2014

    I love this compilation of how The Tale of Two Cities themes are present to this very day! Really neat idea 🙂

    Like

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