The best of times . . .

One of my favorite authors, Charles Dickens

Credit: Getty Images/General Photographic Agency
Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

wrote a book “A Tale of Two Cities” (二都物語) in 1859.  It is about the French Revolution.  It’s a very good book that has been made into many movies.  Today I want to talk about the opening.  It is one of the most famous openings of any book.  Here it is in English:

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.

日本語

それは最良の時代であり、それは最悪の時代であり、それは知恵の時代であり、それは愚鈍の時代であり、それは信念の時代であり、それは不信の時代であり、それは光の季節であり、それは暗闇の季節であり、それは希望の春であり、それは絶望の冬であった。我々の前には全てがあり、我々の前には何も無かった。我々は皆直接天国に至りつつあり、我々は皆直接別な道に至りつつあった・・・早い話が、その時代は現在とはとてもよく似ており、その時代の最もうるさい権威の何人かは、良かれ悪しかれ、その時代は最上級の形容詞によってのみ、受け取られるべきだと主張した。

Old 日本語 (which do you think is better?)

それはすべての時世の中で最もよい時世でもあれば、すべての時世の中で最も悪い時世でもあった。叡智の時代でもあれば、痴愚の時代でもあった。信仰の時期でもあれば、懐疑の時期でもあった。光明の時節でもあれば、暗黒の時節でもあった。希望の春でもあれば、絶望の冬でもあった。人々の前にはあらゆるものがあるのでもあれば、人々の前には何一つないのでもあった。人々は皆真直に天国へ行きつつあるのでもあれば、人々は皆真直にその反対の道を行きつつあるのでもあった。――要するに、その時代は、当時の最も口やかましい権威者たちのある者が、善かれ悪しかれ最大級の比較法でのみ解さるべき時代であると主張したほど、現代と似ていたのであった。

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The other day, I thought how much this fits our present situation.  In the past few days we have had great news about many vaccines being approved and vaccination has begun in many countries (not Japan unfortunately).   At the same time, the number of cases is rising rapidly in Japan, and a new strain of Corona has been found in England.

2020 has not been a very good year for any of us, but at the same time, I do have a lot of good memories from this year.  I know I will never forget this year, but I hope we can all hold on to the good memories and let the bad ones fade away.

This morning (Dec. 21st), I’ve been making banana bread for some of my classes.  My house is filled with the delicious aroma of baking.

Preparation / ingredients
Ready for the oven.
Delicious banana bread!

Here is my Christmas present to you.  Enjoy!

Mark’s Banana Bread

125 grams shortening

200 grams sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup mashed ripe bananas

150 grams flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Stir in bananas.

Sift together dry ingredients, add to banana mixture, mix well.

Add walnuts and chocolate chips if you like.

Put in a greased and floured pan, bake at 175℃ for 30-35 minutes.

After cooking wait five minutes then remove from pan to cool.

Let’s all have a safe, quiet and at home new year’s celebration.  I’m looking forward to seeing you all next year.

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

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Today’s BGM:  STYX, The Best of Times (1981)

45cat - Styx - The Best Of Times / Lights - A&M - Brazil - 47.010

Tonight’s the night we’ll make history
Honey, you and I
And I’ll take any risk to tie back the hands of time
And stay with you here tonight
I know you feel these are the worst of times
I do believe it’s true
When people lock their doors and hide inside
Rumor has it, it’s the end of paradise
But I know, if the world just passed us by
Baby I know, I wouldn’t have to cry, no no
The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain some shine, we’ll make this a world for two
Our memories of yesterday will last a lifetime
We’ll take the best, forget the rest
And someday we’ll find
These are the best of times
These are the best of times
The headlines read, “These are the worst of times”
I do believe it’s true
I feel so helpless like a boat against the tide
I wish the summer winds could bring back paradise
But I know, if the world turned upside down
Baby, I know you’d always be around, my my
The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain some shine, we’ll make this a world for two
The best of times are when I’m alone with you
Some rain some shine, we’ll make this a world for two