Charles Dickens made me weep in my car today

Just finished my San Fransisco -> Kansas City drive this afternoon. Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities was my entertainment for 18 of the 26 driving hours. 12 CDs. I had made it through 13 years of public education, 4 years of university, and a major in English literature without ever having read it.

So somewhere in eastern Colorado, I get to the last chapter, where Carton* takes Darnay’s place at the Guillotine, and I start to get ferklempt. In the last couple of paragraphs, (you know: “it is a far far better thing…”) I get the trembly lip thing and my vision gets a little blurry.

Yes, I – a big strong man who can bench press over ten billion pounds and then a horse rare – was crying like a little schoolgirl. Alone. In my car. In Western Kansas.

Anyone have any similar experiences with TTC? With Dickens? With books-on-tape? With the Sunflower State?

*I didn’t realize until just now, trying to get the spelling right, that his name wasn’t “Cotton.” Curse you, books-on-tape!

Aw! I’m not sure if I’ve read A Tale of Two Cities or not; it seems like I have but I don’t specifically recall the actual reading of it (and I too was an English major. :rolleyes: )

Anyway, not many books make me tear up; it usually takes a film to do that … but I will admit to getting a bit of the moist eye when 1) Scout is gently told to stand up, her father’s passin’ after Atticus defends Tom in To Kill a Mockingbird and

  1. in Lonesome Dove

when Gus dies.

Mighty sniff

It’s especially tough for Carton as he is doing it because he loves a woman who loves Darnay and he does it for her happiness and he is the only person who knows his reasons.

if it makes you feel any better, grizzled miners in the California gold fields were reported to have wept at the death of Little Nell in The Old Curiosity Shop when it was read to them from the serials.

he definitely knew how to grab a-hold o’ them heartstrings.

That is the one Dickens novel that regularly reduces me to tears. I cry for the shoemaker. I cry for Carton. I cry for the heck of crying, I guess. Add me to those who never read it or many, many other classics until I got out of school.

Well, in Jean de Florette, Jean Cadoret is a relentlessly optimistic man who tries through sheer will and cheerfulness to overcome the hell that drought is making out of his farm and his life,

and finally cracks at a heartbreaking moment and yells at the sky, “I’m a hunchback! Do you think this is easy?!” His pitiful death comes later, and Ugolin, although he contrived and hoped for the death, weeps. He says, “It’s not me that’s crying, it’s my eyes.”

It gets me every time, not only in the book, but in the faithful and brilliant movie as well.

A Tale of Two Cities! I knew it, before I even opened the thread. It’s quite possibly my favorite book ever. I read it in high school and barely made it through the next day after I finished it. Our English teacher could tell I’d gotten to the end on the previous night, just because of how sad I was. Red eyes, sniffly, hair in face, yeah, I’d read the ending.

I’ve said before, it’s the kind of book that I want to completely forget, so I can read it for the first time, again.

Dude, as soon as I saw the thread title, my first thought was, “A Tale of Two Cities, book on CD.” :frowning:

The end of that book always, always gets me. It’s the only book written before the 20th Century that consistently catches my emotions like that.

I’m a sucker for grand (dare I say cheesily grand?) gestures. Hell yeah I cried.

Try Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop, of which Oscar Wilde said, “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.”

Pip’s treatment of Joe in Great Expectations makes me cry. Joe’s such a good guy.

The Fionavar Tapestry gets me choked up still, but particularly the last book has a couple (I was in a public library the first time I read #3 and completely lost it…)

When Diarmid battles the urgach and dies and when Paul says “Not so, I go deep enough…etc.”

The one literary/cinematic thing that has ever caused me to tear up was seeing the Broadway production of Les Miserables. I guess I’m a kind of emotionless guy normally. :expressionless:

A Tale of Two Cities was one of the few books we were required to read for English class in junior high school that almost everyone greatly enjoyed. (Perhaps it was all the bloody executions.) Tess of the d’Urbervilles, on the other hand, I could not stand. I ended up renting the movie version just to be able to get through the discussion and test.

And was it Cecil or someone else who described the crowds of people on the docks in New York eagerly awaiting the news of Little Nell’s fate as the latest chapter of The Old Curiosity Shop was delivered by ship?

That Charles Dickens! He makes everyone cry. What a jerk.

I say we beat the crap out of him.

Not me. I’m fairly empathetic, a lifelong romantic, easily moved by music and frequently operating on too little sleep, so I’m something of a pigeon for tear-jerkers. I also teared up at Les Mis, but more for Fantine than the Revolutionaries (I already knew the plotline though). Same thing while watching Titanic. I was deeply moved by Moulin Rouge! (a movie I truly love), as well as The English Patient. And the “funeral” scene in Four Weddings And A Funeral (which burned some of the couplets from the W. H. Auden poem “Stop All The Clocks” in my memory too, after hearing it read just that once).

The only book that has ever moved me to tears, though, was Charlotte’s Web. When I first read that book as a boy I literally could not believe what I had just read about Charlotte’s ending, I went back to re-read it to make sure… Then just put the book down and sobbed for a little while :frowning:

OK, that’s not entirely true, I teared up in a bookstore while looking for a children’s book after my second child was just born (my eldest child being about 2 at the time), and got caught by surprise by the poignant ending of Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.

I do also vaguely recall tearing up while reading the ending of The Elfstones of Shannara :o , but I was 13 years old at the time and had stayed up until 2:30am to finish it, so I have an excuse. (Please tell me that is an excuse.)

I remember it was once mentioned in a Doonesbury strip.

Oh yes… I was “forced” (required) to see that movie and its sequel, Manon des Sources, then being shown back to back at a local theater, while taking a French language class. C’est pas moi qui pleure… C’est mes yeux. Those movies are simply wonderful. I have been waiting for years for it to come out properly on widescreen enhanced DVD.

I really like Moulin Rouge as well, though it didn’t get me all emotional. :smiley:

If we’re talking about as a kid, well…I definitely cried at the end of The Giver and I can barely remember the story now. I guess I should re-read it.

Hell, I cried every time I tried to read a Shannara book, too :wink:

Actually, I did cry at the death of Flint in the Dragonlance Chronicles (and I was 20ish at the time). Les Mis makes me weepy, so does the end of The Shawshank Redemption.

I must be a Sensitive New Age Guy :smack:


The novel, Requiem for a Woman’s Soul , is definitely the book that’s affected me the most. I must have been about 15, browsing the library as I was wont to do, when I saw the book standing on the shelf. I kind of liked the title so I read the cover, thought hmmm and started reading the first chapter. Pretty soon I was completely oblivious to the world around me and just sat down right there between the aisles and read the entire book, tears streaming down my face. Afterwards I just sat there for the longest time, physically unable to move. My knees almost buckled beneath me when I finally rose. That was powerful stuff for a teen. I haven’t dared to revisit the novel since, but this thread reminded me of it and I wonder if it would have affected me as much today.