This essay asks what, if any, import the Indian ““Mutiny”” of 1857 had on A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Charles Dickens�s fictionalized account of the French Revolution. Begun shortly after the Indian uprising started, Dickens�s historical novel appears studiously to avoid any mention of events on the Indian subcontinent, even though these events preoccupied and enraged the author. Few scholars have attended to the question of A Tale of Two Cities and the ““Mutiny,”” but when they have, scholars have looked for analogies between India and Dickens�s account of the French Revolution. In this essay, by contrast, I examine A Tale of Two Cities in a larger context——of Britons' response to the Uprising, of Dickens's short stories and essays in Household Words in the years before the ““Mutiny”” and immediately after, of Dickens's disenchantment with aspects of British culture, and of his need to articulate a national identity grounded in action. I argue that the events in India were the match that ignited Dickens's already established midcentury interests in national identity, nobility, and masculine heroism. I do not wish to suggest that A Tale of Two Cities is an Indian ““Mutiny”” novel, but rather that it is a novel about the ““Making of Britons,”” an important endeavor for an author who was intensely dissatisfied with the Britain that he saw around him.
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