The bittersweet victory is a ray of light for the progressive agenda.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” has become a literary cliche today’s culture. It’s something people who quote Walt Whitman about containing multitudes might say with a shrug, instead of the more prosaic, recent iteration; “It is what it is.”
The quote is Charles Dickens, and those two lines happen to be the first in his classic literary work, A Tale of Two Cities.
It is unfortunate that all anyone ever remembers are the first two lines- out of context- because the entire opening paragraph, which is really just one masterpiece of a run-on sentence for the ages, is worth careful review.
The whole thing goes:
“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- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”
Hard not to see shades of the present day in that prescient description, as Dickens somehow knew we would. He was writing in 1859, using a reference work called The French Revolution written by historian Thomas Carlyle in 1837…about events which took place from about 1789–1794.
Still the sentiments expressed in that long sentence resonate as strongly today as they did in 1859, 1837 or 1788- an entire ocean, and oceans of time removed from modern day America.
Dickens began A Tale of Two Cities at time when, “in both countries,” it was, “clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled forever.”
In 1859, Charles Dickens was describing France and England in 1788. Today, in what Dickens might have described as, “the year of Our Lord two thousand and twenty-two,” we might substitute the words…