What did I learn after reading the original book "A Tale of Two Cities" - thereadingreviews
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June 22, 2024
Book Reviews

What did I learn after reading the original book “A Tale of Two Cities”


In order to cultivate my English reading ability, to appreciate the beauty of foreign literature, and to improve my English level, I went to the library and borrowed several original English books. With the purpose of challenging myself, I began to read “A Tale of Two Cities”.

I didn’t dare to look up new words. I didn’t know too many. I just read them like this and finished reading them this morning. While I am proud of myself, I also have many disappointments. I am proud that I can persist in reading, but I am disappointed that I don’t understand enough. I think I just have a general understanding of the story of this novel, but I have not understood the creative background of this novel.

I have read English works before, but most of them are original English works after reading the translation, such as “The Little Prince”, “The Old Man and the Sea”. There is also an exception, “Animal Farm”, but “Animal Farm” is a short story, and the new words in it are annotated. However, “A Tale of Two Cities” has no explanation of new words, has not read the translation, and I have not understood the writing background. It is the first time I have read the original book independently!

After reading the original book, I immediately borrowed the Chinese version to see how I read it and how much I understood it. Before reading the translation, I still felt like I understood six or seven points. After reading the Chinese version, I just wanted to be quiet, because the six or seven points fell to two or three points. It turns out that I only understand the general idea of a story, and not all of it.

It is absolutely deceptive to say that I am not hit. I am really “miserable, mushroom”. However, I like to fly against the wind. Frustration and blow are always used for growth in my life.


When I was on duty, the senior asked me: What have you been reading recently?

I was a little embarrassed: after reading the original book, I was reading the Chinese version of A Tale of Two Cities to see how much I understood.

The seniors began to sigh: Yes, there are not many people who can settle down to read now. You still read the original book.

I’m even more embarrassed: in fact, I didn’t understand it, so I had an eye addiction.

The word “eye addiction” is not wrong. However, even if it is an eye addiction, it is a failed reading experience, and the harvest is still quite great.

First of all, when reading, you can’t look up all the new words or not. The mistake I made this time was that I automatically ignored everything except the words that appeared repeatedly and I didn’t understand according to the situation.

It’s amazing that I didn’t want to understand these neglected words at all. This is my fault. Since it’s learning and I want to improve my ability, I have no desire to learn, so improving my ability becomes empty talk. For those of us who have a poor English background and want to understand foreign literature, there is no word basis, but “want to fly before learning to walk”, which is fantastic.

Therefore, when reading the original English book in the future, don’t be lazy. Try to check the words that can be checked. Don’t let your conjectured word meaning interfere with normal reading, so that you can further understand the work while learning the words.

Secondly, I found that when reading, we must understand the era of the author and the historical background of that era. When I read The Tale of Two Cities, I didn’t know that it was the time when the Bastille was captured by the French Revolution. In the novel, I did read the chapters related to the Bastille prison. Because I did not understand this history, my final understanding of the work was unsatisfactory.

I read several Chinese versions of Dickens’ works, but I didn’t know him and his era. After reading the original book, I found that if I want to understand foreign literature, I should not only understand its language, but also understand its history.

Therefore, when reading the original works in foreign languages in the future, you should first know the author, and then learn the history of the country, or just the history of the author’s era. In this way, the understanding of the work will be more profound, and the learning will be better.

Finally, when I read the original book of “A Tale of Two Cities”, to some extent, I can say that I have to deal with the homework in order to finish the task of reading a foreign book. When encountering words and sentences that you don’t understand, you usually skip them directly and read what you can understand. The result is that what we understand is two or three points. After all, after learning English for so many years, we can’t even say two or three points.

Therefore, we must be patient in reading. Reading this book requires a quiet mind to read, especially when reading the original works in foreign languages.

I found my reading mistakes, and I will correct them in future reading. This failed reading of the original works will only become the driving force for me to move forward. In order to better study foreign literature, I think I will continue to read, not abandon, not give up.


Of course, it is this reading that makes me respect the translators. It is not easy to do well in translation, especially in literary translation of different cultures.

I remember Mr. Xu Yuanchong, who called himself “the first translator in China”, was the first person in China to translate ancient Chinese poetry in English and French. It is not easy to use one language, but also two languages from different cultures, and it is also the translation of ancient poetry that wins by artistic conception.

In the past, I just thought he was very powerful. Now, I add one thing. I admire him very much. He deserves our respect.

Here, I also pay tribute to all the translators. Thank you for letting us appreciate the beauty of different cultures.


Later, my senior and I went from reading the original book to talking about “Good Chinese Poetry”.

I told the seniors: after chasing so many seasons of “Good Chinese Poetry”, I found that excellent people are all self-disciplined people. I take it for granted that people who specialize in the field of poetry and poetry are powerful. On the contrary, I admire those who are famous in engineering, and those who are forced to make a living. It is often these people who have self-discipline that ordinary people do not have. I appreciate them and want to become such self-disciplined and excellent people and aspire to become such people.

The senior said: Those who are not poetry majors at Tsinghua University (there will be engineering doctors or non-poetry majors from famous universities such as Tsinghua University) are smart in themselves, and most of them are good at home when they can enter Tsinghua University. They must also be influenced by poetry and cannot be separated from family education.

I insist: I believe that they are smart, because some people learn things faster, like the 11-year-old child with the title of the world memory master, who must have talent, but I think that if a person can do well in fields other than professional, it is not only smart and talented, it depends on their own learning. After all, there are not many talents.

I just stuck to my point of view, and then I realized something.

Recently, because I was confused and didn’t find the meaning of graduate study, I felt that graduate students were a “pit”, so what I said was “drop out”. I complained when I encountered difficulties, but I didn’t complain about my lack of ability.

The teacher asked me to write the closing paper. At the beginning, I blamed the teacher for not being so strict, but also for dealing with random writing. Later, when the teacher became angry, I began to face up to it. I was still complaining about the teacher, saying that the teacher had many requirements and many things, but there was no way. I could only follow the teacher’s requirements, and the data could also be found. The article format was correct, and the content was rich.

This shows that we have a serious “lazy man’s disease”. In fact, we can do things well, but if we have ten points, we are only willing to give three points. In this way, we also want to get 100% benefits. Just as in economics, rational people want to obtain the maximum utility with the least capital.

It’s not that we can’t, but that we won’t.

Whether it is study or life, we should correct our attitude and do our best.

This is the best time and the worst time; This is the age of wisdom, this is the age of ignorance; This is the era of trust, this is the era of doubt; This is the season of light, this is the season of darkness; This is the spring day of hope, this is the winter day of disappointment; We have everything in front of us and nothing in front of us; We will all go straight to heaven, and we will all go straight to hell.


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