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A "Tale of Two Cities?" Snowstorm has parallels to Dickens' novel, UB English professor says

David Schmid, UB associate professor of English, is an expert in English literature.

Release Date: November 20, 2014

“Both situations demonstrate that while actual and political weather can vary wildly within a shared geographical space, what happens in one area has a demonstrable and even dramatic effect on the other.”
David Schmid, associate professor of English
University at Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. – As lake effect snow bands wreacked havoc on the Southtowns while leaving North Buffalo largely unscathed, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and many others have called the current state of affairs a "tale of two cities."

The saying refers to the Charles Dickens novel of the same name, which is set during the French Revolution in two cities: London and Paris.

While a modern-day storm may at first glance have little to do with 18th-century Europe, the analogy isn't necessarily inappropriate, says David Schmid, PhD, a University at Buffalo associate professor of English.

"I understand why this analogy would be used, because the Southtowns' and South Buffalo's wall of snow demonstrates how microclimate can differ dramatically within a relatively small geographic area, just as the political and social microclimates in London and Paris in the 1790s differed dramatically," Schmid says.

"Both situations demonstrate that while actual and political weather can vary wildly within a shared geographical space, what happens in one area has a demonstrable and even dramatic effect on the other," he adds.

"The effect of what was going on in revolutionary Paris had a great effect on many living in London, which is the subject matter of Dickens'  'tale' of the two cities," Schmid says. "Likewise, what happened in the Southtowns, for instance, certainly has affected where those in the north can go, what they can do and in some cases can provoke anxiety in one area over what is happening in the other (regarding family matters, school attendance, businesses, etc.)."

Schmid can be reached at schmid@buffalo.edu or through Patricia Donovan at 716-628-0604.

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