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Fishman, G.G. (1983). American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities: The Poetics of Impasse. Frank Lawrence. Pp. 215-244.. Psychoanal Q., 52:146-146.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities: The Poetics of Impasse. Frank Lawrence. Pp. 215-244.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:146-146

American Imago. XXXVI, 1979: Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities: The Poetics of Impasse. Frank Lawrence. Pp. 215-244.

George G. Fishman

The author's major premise is that A Tale of Two Cities utilizes "history" to ouline a paradox: fathers and sons engage in an unchanging paradigm of conflict despite the ever-evolving social forms of each successive epoch. Lawrence chooses to emphasize a particular aspect of this conflict, namely, that the individuation of the son, of necessity, requires the death or dissolution of the father. The intent is to say more than is contained in the phrases "rebellion against authority" or "competition for the role of best or most loved." The author implies that each person bears a responsibility to carry out the resolution of this conflict which so engaged and eluded Dickens and his representative protagonist, Charles Darnay. Darnay is the heir of the St. Evrémonde brothers, aristocrats who exploited the peasantry of France. Rather than strike these fathers down definitively by becoming the man he might be, Charles retreats to England. In this new setting, he again becomes locked in a very similarly unresolved conflict with Dr. Manette. Lawrence points out that the parricidal part of Darnay is reflected, with full usage of various mirror metaphors, in Sidney Carton. It is also kept "alive" in various vicarious identities, such as Gaspard, a real assassin. The author also explores Darnay and Carton as "twins." The twin device has often been used to represent the attempt of an immortal self to rid itself of its mortal, i.e., parricidal, counterpart. Doubles have also classically been without parents and therefore not born into the essential conflict implicit in the progenitor-progeny relationship. The author's analysis is very careful and rich. It greatly and subtly expands not only our knowledge of Dickens but also of the oedipus complex.

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Article Citation

Fishman, G.G. (1983). American Imago. XXXVI, 1979. Psychoanal. Q., 52:146-146

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