It was one of those portions of history that scared the crap out of me as a child. Along with the Dark Ages (seriously. The life of a serf? So not good.), the Plague, slavery / the “Reconstruction,” and the Holocaust, the French Revolution just seemed like one long, horrific nightmare from which the French, commoners and aristocrats alike, would have dearly loved to awaken.
Of course, I obsess over things that scare me. I read history books and drew pictures of madam guillotine (Why is it Madame? Or the maiden?) Why is it female? I mean, is it just the whole emasculating thing?). I inhaled books about the French Revolution. I struggled through The Scarlet Pimpernel when I was eleven. (I told my parents it was nonfiction [they didn’t look too closely]) — and I read A Tale of Two Cities — in the 8th grade without having it assigned.
Yes. It was a sickness. And, as with all panicky little obsessions, eventually my French Revolution mania faded, to be replaced by something else — a 10th grade obsession with evil Mary, who was trying to kill Good Queen Bess, if I recall correctly.
Some of us took our history classes way seriously.
It’s time to read A Tale of Two Cities again. Tomorrow, the madness begins anew. A knock at the door! Stitches dropped while heads roll! Mad Frenchmen and blood in the streets!
Ah, Brockman, Ah, Powells. Snarking on Midnight Sun and Scholastic. Good times.