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  • Writer's pictureStephen Himes

The Best and Worst of Times? A Tale of Two Cities

The pictures on this site are from Knowledge Travels' last pre-pandemic venture, A Tale of Two Cites. This course is the perfect AP or IB companion. In London, we study how Charles Dickens constructed ATo2C, from the influence of his infamous childhood in Warrens Blacking Factory and his father's time in debtors prision, to his historical (?) research with books provided by the philosopher Thomas Carlyle in the London Library--and we'll see his handwritten manuscript, with some coded messages about the scandals in his personal life that informed his book. We spend a day at the Charles Dickens Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, we see that actual places (including the underground pubs) where Dickens set scenes to understand how he imagined the geography of London as a spiritual landscape--and we venture outside the center of London to eulogize his family in Highgate Cemetery.

From London, we travel to Paris, the second city of the tale, to explore the actual history of the French Revolution. In Paris, we find the last guillotine, explore the dark neighborhood of the novel, the prisons that held the innocent----while also taking in the City of Lights and the exquisite food and vibrant neighborhoods that made Charles Dickens England's first legitimate Francophile.

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