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It was the best of times…

Posted: 8th Nov 2016

It was the best of times,

It was the worst of times,

It was the age of wisdom,

It was the age of foolishness,

It was the epoch of belief,

It was the epoch of incredulity,

It was the season of Light,

It was the season of Darkness,

It was the spring of hope,

it was the winter of despair,

We had everything before us,

We had nothing before us,

We were all going direct to Heaven,

We were all going direct the other way.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

For the two or three of you who may not have read this amazing story, it is the story of lovers and comrades during the French Revolution set in the two cities of London and Paris. It seems fitting to reread this now; whilst not living in either London or Paris, but still, coming from Plymouth England to spend a year in Lyon France, it seems like the right time and place. Coming from another country born of revolution from England and historical sympathies with France, and with close cultural and emotional ties to both, it also seems appropriate. And finally, finding myself surrounded by the physical echoes of conflicts past and somewhat current, I thought it might be instructive to immerse myself in a literary perspective of leadership, principles, passion and two (more) countries that I can now call home.

And really, who doesn’t love a great page-turner, beautifully written, and with the excuse that I get to read it in the name of research! Stay tuned for more posts on these themes as I re-read and explore the intertwined nature of these three cultures.

Note on the photo: This is a school located near our apartment in Lyon. It is one of the older buildings in the area, as much of this neighbourhood was settled in the second half of the 20th Century. Along the wall just below the photo line is a string of bullet holes dotting the entire front facade, from the German’s successful assassination of one of the French resistance leaders in the Second World War.

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