Spare a moment’s thought for the unfortunate few who opted to purchase the monthly instalments instead of the weeklies, lagging behind in the plot while their counterparts get whooshed up in a maelstrom of excitement and revelations. They must have wandered around London with their hands permanently against their ears, yelling ‘Don’t tell me! Don’t tell me!’ Anyway…here are the latest visualisations of the story, courtesy of Phiz, that would now be circulating:
‘Before the Prison Tribunal’ shows Darnay as he first gets into trouble in France (so long ago now) – it’s interesting how Phiz has grouped the revolutionaries into two distinct sections, the one, lolling about in debauchery and games, the other’s much more serious and professional, huddled around the new prisoner and looking a force to be reckoned with.
This next one, ‘A knock at the door’, captures Darnay’s second moment of trouble in France – the choice of illustrations do seem to emphasise his hapless adventures (he’s in trouble, oh, he’s in trouble again); I wonder if that’s intentional? I would have thought the scene from Lorry’s window of the crowd sharpening their axes would have been a great opportunity for Phiz’s skills, but instead we are made to focus very much on the fortunes of Darnay. The scene above has that old Dickens favourite, the fireplace, to show the domestic bliss that is being disrupted by the soldiers (who, against tradition, have entered, and presumably will exit, stage right). Lucie is a beacon of light and purity in white, as is her daughter to some extent.
It was also interesting to see at the end of this week;s instalment that it advertised not only the latest monthly part, but the first volume of All the Year Round as well (eagle-eyed online readers on DJO may have noted that we’ve now moved into volume two). What a bizarre and contradictory set-up to have a complete volume that contains an incomplete story. Clearly these volumes were marketed for the reader intending to purchase the complete set.