Published serially at the height of the Second Italian War of Independence, A Tale of Two Cities invents a French revolutionary past through an Italian political plot of unjust imprisonment and martyrdom. Charles Dickens places the figures of the prisoner and the martyr at the center of his historical novel, opening with news of Dr. Manette’s release from an unjust eighteen-year imprisonment and ending with Sidney Carton’s sacrifice of his life during the Reign of Terror. Dickens frames the novel through the tale of Dr. Manette’s unjust imprisonment to motivate Carton’s martyrdom. This yoking of the figures of the prisoner and the martyr resembles the rhetorical strategies employed by Italian patriots like Giuseppe Mazzini to transform Italian social oppression and military failures into a form of political agency through the cultivation of Italian martyr cults.
Richard Bonfiglio is Associate Professor of English Literature at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. He teaches Victorian literature and culture, and his current research interests include cosmopolitanism, travel, masculinity, and the Italian Risorgimento. His articles have appeared in Victorian Literature and Culture, Dickens Quarterly, Modern Philology, and Victorians: A Journal of Culture and Literature.
Meeting ID: 930 6714 9643
Live broadcast will be available in Room CRT-7.45, 7/F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU.