It seems like we’ve been doing this for a long time already, and yet we’re only up to the second monthly part! However much you like Dickens, reading his work in the original format takes stamina. You can see signs already of how organisation is slipping – for the first few weeks it was clearly stated that the first monthly part would be available on a specific date – 31 May. But this week we are told, rather vaguely, that the second part will be published alongside the July magazines. Writing a novel, editing a journal, and overseeing the monthly editions of the novel obviously set Dickens working at a furious pace. Anyway, here are the illustrations from month 2 (thanks again to The Victorian Web):
The most noticeable aspect here is the similarity in subject – both pictures show Carton and Darnay (although, given the way they dominate this month’s part, it would be hard to avoid them). That said, when you review the month’s writing as a whole, there is little alternative for illustration (the plot would have stretched from the trial up to the gathering at the Manette’s house). Certainly the trial is an obvious moment to illustrate, and the moment at which the likeness is revealed is arguably the most dramatic point. As for the second illustration, as I see it there are three alternatives Phiz could have depicted: Carton and Darnay in the pub, Carton and Stryver later that night, or perhaps an illustration of the Manette’s house with all in attendance. What might these moments, if illustrated, have offered to the reader; how might characters have been represented or interpreted?
Though “The Likeness” is a busier picture, I prefer “Congratulations”; in particular Phiz’s rendering of Carton and Darnay so as to show both their similarities and differences; the first in their most basic physical traits, and the second in their bearing and dress. Job well done.