Friday, 23 December 2016

Classic Literature: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

"Marley was dead, to begin with...This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate."

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

My mum used to read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol every December and it's a tradition that my sister and I try to carry on. Although quite often I forget and then blitz through it on Christmas Eve.

There's not much I can say about this Christmas classic that hasn't already been said, and it's hard to write an unbiased review as the book is such a part of our culture. A Christmas Carol has been recreated on screen so many times, and the term Scrooge and Bah Humbug have become a part of our language. Actually, I watched The Muppet Christmas Carol before I ever read the book, so even now when I read it I still envision Scrooge as Michael Caine and Bob Cratchit as Kermit the Frog (by the way, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Scrooged are hands down the best Christmas films ever, don't even talk to me about Elf!)

The Muppet Christmas Carol

So, I'll keep it brief.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a miser who hates Christmas, but when he is visited by three ghosts; past, present and future, he learns the true meaning of the festive season.
It's a short read so easy to take on but is packed full of Dickens' usual genius for language and names. Ebenezer Scrooge is such a brilliant, almost onomatopoeic name which is now in everyday use to describe someone who doesn't like Christmas.
Dickens has his usual fun with language and his rich yet contrasting prose, which has come to be described as 'Dickensian,' is a joy to read. It feels as though every single word has been chosen with care.

"You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!"

This is a sentimental story and at times it can become a little too soppy; Tiny Tim and the nephew Fred are particularly guilty of pulling on the heartstrings. Yet, it is a Christmas book, so how can it not have a little cheese about it. Plus, Dickens' humour stops it from becoming too nauseating.
Also, the rather soppy characters are contrasted with the more terrifying ones, such as everyone's bogey man; the Ghost of Christmas Future.

A Christmas Carol has a bit of everything in fact; good vs evil; time travel, humour, family, horror, religion and the contrast of poverty and wealth, yet it is short and easy to read.

It's also littered with British Christmas traditions, such as trees and roast goose, and just oozes festive feeling from each page.

I'm not ashamed to say I get a warm and fuzzy feeling after reading A Christmas Carol and for at least an hour after I've finished it I try and be a bit nicer to everybody.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. The spirits of all Three shall strive within me."

The Penguin edition I have; A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings has more festive stories in it but I've never actually read any. Has anyone else read more of Dickens' Christmas stories? This year I might try reading the rest of the book!

Have a lovely Christmas!

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