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.
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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!