Bloom, Hard. Charles Dickens. London: Infobase Publishing, Jan 1, 2009.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York: Interactive Media, 2012 .
Glancy, Ruth. Charles Dickens's a tale of two cities: A sourcebook. New York: Routledge,
Hennelly, Mark. "Like or no like: Figuring the scapegoat in a tale of two cities," Dickens Studies
Annual, 30 (2001): 217-242.
Jordan, John. Charles Dickens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
Ledger, Sally, and Furneaux, Holly. Charles Dickens in context. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2011.
Sorensen, David. "The unseen heart of the whole; Carlyle, Dickens, and the sources of the French Revolution in a tale of two cities," Dickens Quarterly 30.1 (2013): 5-21.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities: In Three Books. New York: Books, Inc., 1868.
It was both "the epoch of belief" and "the epoch of incredulity." Some people remained devoted to religious beliefs, while others were openly questioning the nature not only of God but of existence itself. "The season of Light" and "the season of Darkness" may have referred to the stirrings of democracy, a shift that would bring great turmoil to France. France would not achieve democracy easily, and many people would suffer along the way. With all these changes going on, it was the spring of hope for those who embraced all the new changes, sometimes naively thinking that great ideas would be easily adopted, but the season of despair for many whose lives had no hope of improving.
Not surprisingly, the nature of the period with all its contradictions is reflected in the characters. For instance, Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay start out as opposites of each other. Other character opposites appear in the book as well, such as Lucie and Madame Defarge. Lucie is a loving, caring and compassionate person, while Madame Defarge is vengeful.
Tale of Two Cities was first published in 1859, so the time period of the story, 1775, was recent history. Literate people who read the book for the first time likely recognized all the cultural history encapsulated in Dickens's seemingly simple statements of contrast. They knew that first page set them up for a story about turmoil and struggle.
Dickens, Charles. A Tale of Two Cities. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1948.