A Production of Two Cities and of Four Illustrators
Everywhere in Dickens’ works is the backdrop of the metropolis; and, whether it be Rome or Genoa, it is always a reflection of the city that Dickens knew best: London. Although in A Tale of Two Cities, Paris and London appear as contrasting worlds, they are actually opposing aspects of the same great urban ‘oven’—a breeding ground for poverty, crime, and revolution, but also a refuge for émigrés, a thriving centre of commerce, and a supportive community. In some illustrations, the city is at first sight a theatrical scene. If we reverse foreground and background, it is possible to examine how these two cities were perceived through certain predominant tropes: how would these images of London have informed the city’s virtual life for nineteenth-century readers on either side of the Atlantic?