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Thread: Is it normal to have difficulty reading A Tale of Two Cities?

  1. #1

    Is it normal to have difficulty reading A Tale of Two Cities?

    This has got to be the hardest book I've attempted to read.

    I'm at chapter 3 now and from what I understand Both France and England have there problems and there are 3 dudes in a "mail" which I assume is some sort of horse drawn carriage who are going to Dover. Some dude shows up on horse back to deliver a message and the message he gets back confuses him.

    Am I on the right track? I plan on re-reading the chapters before I go to sleep tonight and now I have the convenience of having a dictionary at my side.

    The opening line ofthe book is pretty good.
    Last edited by spookymulder93; 06-08-2010 at 01:05 AM.

  2. #2

    Cool Well Dude, .....

    if you are experiencing difficulty in reading A Tale of Two Cities then you have not read much in the past to enable you to read Dickens. But don't get discouraged. This is one of Dickens' better novels. Having a dictionary by your side when reading the book is a good idea. Next, look up "Reign of Terror" on the internet and familiarize yourself with this era of French history. Also, several movies have been made of the novel. Try watching one and it may make the book more understandable to you. The earliest one, in glorious b&w, is very good and stars Ronald Coleman. It was made in the 30s, but is available on dvd.

    This is not a difficult Dickens to read, but if this is your first foray into the world of literature, you may find it difficult. Take it slow, looking up words you don't understand, and finish the novel. It is well worth your time.

  3. #3
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Is it normal to have difficulty reading A Tale of Two Cities?
    Nope, not a bit. Contact your doctor immediately if the problem persists!

    Why not do some background reading on the book and Dickens? Check out Sparknotes on some information on context of the book.

    Good luck!
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    Quote Originally Posted by spookymulder93 View Post
    This has got to be the hardest book I've attempted to read.

    I'm at chapter 3 now and from what I understand Both France and England have there problems and there are 3 dudes in a "mail" which I assume is some sort of horse drawn carriage who are going to Dover. Some dude shows up on horse back to deliver a message and the message he gets back confuses him.

    Am I on the right track? I plan on re-reading the chapters before I go to sleep tonight and now I have the convenience of having a dictionary at my side.

    The opening line ofthe book is pretty good.

    Hi

    I can understand your problem.

    Up to the point were you read, I found the book pretty difficult, too.
    BUT I think its becoming easier. I think that from chapter 2 onwards you will have no problems.
    At least, that was my experience.

    Good Luck!

  5. #5
    i had problems with it too.tought i'd get it while reading.then neglected reading it for a while and forgot everything.but as soon as i find the time i will start over,this time hopefully with more success.

  6. #6
    Registered User LadyGodiva's Avatar
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    I first read its Turkish version, then the original. i suggest the same for you. itll be much easier and youll be able to focus on his way of writing, or the details.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LadyGodiva View Post
    I first read its Turkish version, then the original. i suggest the same for you. itll be much easier and youll be able to focus on his way of writing, or the details.
    ????

    Anyways, like others have said, don't be discouraged. Any time you read an older text like that it's going to present difficulties due to the antiquated words alone, so the suggestion to keep a dictionary handy is definitely a good one. It would also be advisable to familiarize yourself with the time its set in like others have mentioned, because Dickens will not explain things . . . I assume because at the time it was written, the events taking place were more common knowledge, but I could be wrong about that.

    I also strongly encourage using Sparknotes while reading. I did. It gives nice little summaries for each chapter. You can either read the summaries before you read the actual story so you can follow it better, or read them after to make sure you understood what happened (I prefer the latter--the former seems to spoil it, imo). I consider myself to be well-read (at least compared to the average person), but even I would look back at a chapter summary and realize I got a character mixed up or something. Sparknotes also gives analysis for each section of chapters, but I don't usually read them until I'm completely finished with the book, as they can sometimes spoil future parts of the book (they usually seem to be written in the assumption one has read the book already).

  8. #8
    Registered User LadyGodiva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutatis-Mutandi View Post
    ????
    ahah, meant reading in native language first
    I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart.
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    Quote Originally Posted by spookymulder93 View Post
    This has got to be the hardest book I've attempted to read.

    I'm at chapter 3 now and from what I understand Both France and England have there problems and there are 3 dudes in a "mail" which I assume is some sort of horse drawn carriage who are going to Dover. Some dude shows up on horse back to deliver a message and the message he gets back confuses him.

    Am I on the right track? I plan on re-reading the chapters before I go to sleep tonight and now I have the convenience of having a dictionary at my side.

    The opening line ofthe book is pretty good.
    It's normal for me to have difficulty following the first few chapters of books because I have a very short attention span and my mind wanders until I become more familiar with what's happening in it.

    I suggest you keep going, and it'll soon become more clear. Good Luck!
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

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    @ spookymulder93: I felt exactly as you've described at first. But while proceeding I coped with the book.

  11. #11
    I too experienced the same difficulty but my perseverance paid off.
    Till chapter 3 i could not understand what was the matter but then thinks became clearer as i proceeded.
    I think it is the heavy philosophy that makes it a bit difficult.
    But it is the same heavy philosophy which has given the novel the almost cult status which it rightfully enjoys.
    On first reading neglect the philosophy, i mean read it but dont bother too much about it and continue reading.
    Bona Fortuna!

  12. #12
    It isn't an easy novel at all. What makes it tough is that in some chapters one or more characters aren't mentioned by name. When those characters reoccur ten chapters later you have to recognize them. In a novel like this it's impossible to skip chapters or read diagonally. You sometimes have to go back and reread previous chapters.

    However if you make the effort you will be rewarded. It's one of my favorite novels ever.

    What can also help is watching the movie. I like the 1958 version.

  13. #13
    Scrum half maybe JonathanB's Avatar
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    Try thinking of it as a movie. You have these different scenes and you aren't told who the people are, and have to piece it together.

    I read it again this year and I've read hundred of old novels and all Dickens, but I was confused about the significance of a number of the scenes.

    It is not his most typical work at all - it is much shorter and there is little deliberate humour.
    The more I read, the more I shall covet to read. Robert Burton The Anatomy of Melancholy Partion3, Section 1, Member 1, Subsection 1

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