Sunday, December 24, 2006

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

Date: 1843   —   $3.95   —   Book

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What better book to read for Christmas Eve than the classic? Everyone knows the story, even if they have not read the book: Ebenezer Scrooge, the old miser, is given a chance to redeem himself one Christmas through the visits of three Spirits (and one ghost.) The Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present, and Yet To Come are a part of the popular culture, and have been referred to in countless productions, drectly or indirectly. Stage versions, musical versions, animated versions, retellings and hints abound in modern times.

But there's nothing quite like the original. It is one of Dickens' most enduring novels, and unlike certain other creators of popular Christmas works, it seems he did not dislike or resent the popularity of his creation. In fact, biographies of Dickens point out his impoverished childhood (fodder for such novels as Oliver Twist) and the fact that he loved Christmas dearly as he grew older. There are also some interesting observations that are sometimes dropped from adaptations, such as the fact that Christmas Present has two meager children under his robe, Ignorance and Want, whom he warns Scrooge about. The asides are nearly as fun. There's one snide comment about the U.S. treasury notes and their lack of value that sent me scrambling to find an encyclopædia— yes, indeed, this was written a few years after President Andrew Jackson broke the national bank. Strange that he's on the $20 bill now.

Go ahead and read this classic ghost story. It shouldn't take you very long.

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