Thursday, July 12, 2007

Far, Far Better Things

I am the Tale of Two Cities equivalent of a Trekkie. Victorian novels in general, and Dickens is no exception, are a bit over the top for my tastes. Victorian humour for the most part has not aged well. Though parts of Tale of Two Cities do read like a soapy melodrama, the book as a whole is the most beautiful, resonnating of stories. Dickens aimed to create characters developed by their actions, not their dialog in this story and the result is that the reader develops very intimate relationships with the characters, where the characters's motives and thoughts remain realistically mysterious.
I was looking for the 1980 made-for-TV adaptation of the novel with Chris Sarandon (Prince Humperdink) as Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. I've only seen about half of it, but it seems to be the most faithful to the book of all the adaptations. I watched the 1930's one with Ronald Coleman at a movie festival last year...and I found it very much a product of the 1930's. There was an overly gushy Christmas scene (historically inaccurate AND not in the book.) , and Lucie was very friendly towards Sydney Carton. She was slightly uncomfortable with him in the book, making his final martyrdom for her happiness even more poignant.
The 1958 Version with Dirk Bogarde sucks rocks. I watched about fifteen minutes. Half the scenes were pulled out of some script-writer's ass, and Sydney Carton was comic releif. It made Baby Jesus cry. It's like watching Timon and Pumbaa die for love.
The 1989 Masterpiece Theater version is probably the most solid adaptation. James Wilby is very good as Sydney, though his performance doesn't have the edge that Sarandon's does.
So anyway, back to topic, I found a link off the amazon page for the Christopher Sarandon movie to a book called Evremonde which is a modern sequel to Tale of Two Cities by Diana Mayer. I read the summary (the book is about the Darnay family trying to piece their lives back together) and got really excited, because "This is the sort of crap that *I* would write if I were to write a 600 page fanfic!"
There is another novel based on Tale of Two Cities called A Far Better Rest which is now out of print. I read parts of it and found it a rather simplistically written beach novel. Hopefully Evremonde will be less inane.
As far as good short fanfic that does not involve gay sex (of the hot Darnay on Carton variety) and cameos from Les Miserables (If I find any Sydney on Grantaire action, I might have to stab myself in the eye) , I've only found one. This is "The Seamstress" by Little Lotte. It's a sweet, sad little gem of a fanfic about the seamstress who rides to the guilotine with Sydney Carton which manages to maintain the tone of the original (as much as is possible). This is THE example of a good fanfic. Read it.
And finally....the holy grail of Tale of Two Cities interpretations....
Tale of Two Cities in Legos...made EXTRA special by the fact that these guys only have Star Wars and Lord of the Rings legos--and really, are there any Victorian novels that wouldn't be made better with Bobba Fett? Also of note is the B.ig F.**king G.un video card box in the background and the touching end sequence.
Along with Evremonde, I bought a copy of the OST for the 7th Guest and 11th Hour.

I am the biggest of nerds.

PS. Perhaps the emo embarassing randy highschool kid of my soul enjoys this, or maybe it is that I am just a bastard. Here's a delightful bit of Sydney/Charles Shonen-ai.
There's also some lovely Sydney/Charles slash on youtube which I'll link to tomorrow between bugs.


wing stock said...

I am happy to meet someone who is as enthusiastic about this novel as I am!
A Tale of Two Cities is one of my all time top novels, with Sydney Carton being my favorite character.
I will definitely check out the spin off novel Evremonde--thanks for that piece of information. :D

Haha, and I cannot believe there are slash fanfiction on Charles and Sydney ... that's just too great.

Kitty Lane said...

I'm in love with A Tale of Two Cities. Being in love with a book is a lonely experience so I started a fan club (link at the bottom -- please join) and started hammering away at a fanfic of my own. I didn't enjoy Everemonde by Diane Mayer. I figured I wouldn't like A Far Far Better Rest because the people who wrote on the book jacket didn't plug it; they merely described it, which shows that the author probably didn't generate a lot of enthusiasm inside her own book launch team. One thing I must say to Scrabcake is that Lucie doesn't continue to be uneasy around Carton over the years. Just as Darnay and Carton grow closer than they were in March of 1780 when they met, Lucie relaxes and Sydney enjoys the company of the Darnay children, to whom he is very special. By the way, I call the little boy Charles Elijiah because he is prophetic on his death bed. Um, so anyway, I can relate to you guys. I've been called the biggest Tale of Two Cities fan in the world, so you ladies can cue your banjoes. But please do join my group. I will feel sad and deflated if you don't. Imagine how happy I was just to find you! As an added incentive, my site features a prologue I wrote for the fanfic I'm working on -- a prologue that works better for the Dickens original than for my work. I'm sure you'll agree. But we'll never know if you don't get on board with me. Think of how much fun you would have pitching your blog posts in my group? Love. My real name is Donna Strow