There is no way I am going to be able to finish all of the stories in Christmas Books by Charles Dickens in time for Christmas so the best approach after having read the most famous one – Christmas Carol – is to pick off some of the other short stories in the book.
Dickens is great because although you pick up on the style and can work out where he is coming from and what comes next his writing is so good that you stick with it until the end.
Highlights from a Child’s Story
* You follow a traveller as he goes through the woods and comes across a child that just wants to play, one that then wants to learn, a young man who wants to love, a family man that wants to raise a family and then an old man who looks back on it all and has the ability to remember each stage
* It is a short concise but very clever way of encapsulating the ageing process without it being all about leathery skin, failing sight and incontinence but more about the power of memory and the joy of looking back over a long life
More of the same sort of thing tomorrow…
This story is so famous that most people, me included, go through life without spending the time to read the 60 odd pages that include the story by Charles Dickens but it is well worth it. The book is split into the chapters containing the episodes with the various ghosts and the results as a conclusion.
Highlights from the story
Scrooge is sketched out as a miserable miser who refuses to show kindness to anyone, especially if it is going to cost him money. His business partner Marley has been dead for seven years leaving him to run the business on his own
As he gets home from work the door knocker appears as Marley’s face and then the ghost of his old colleague appears wrapped in chains pulling cash boxes and ledgers and warns Scrooge that a miserable after life awaits unless he changes his ways
Scrooge seems to doubt Marley’s existence but is left exhausted and disturbed after his friend wails and leaves via the window to join a mass of other chained tormented souls that include other business associates Scrooge knows
The ghost of Christmas past appears and takes Scrooge back to his youth, which was miserable and lonely until his sister came to rescue him and then he is seen growing up and enjoying the festive season until one year, gripped by greed, his girlfriend leaves him
He is taken back to his room again exhausted but after pleading with the ghost to take him away from the scenes of family joy that he has deliberately excluded himself from
The next ghost is of Christmas present and Scrooge is shown two families – Bob Cratchitt his clerk and his nephew Fred – and understands how he is thought of as a miserable person who inflicts pain on his employees and indifference on his family
Tiny Tim, Bob’s crippled child is the focus of the family and Scrooge who realises that without money to provide medical help he will die
Scrooge has died and the servants have stolen his things and his business friends couldn’t seem to care less and no one really misses him
Tiny Tim has died and Scrooge is finally taken to his own grave where he is desperate to change things and promises to learn the error of his ways
He wakes dicovers the spirits have visited him all in one night and then spends Christmas day making up for his mistakes and sends a turkey to Bob and then turns up unexpectedly for Christmas lunch with his nephew Fred
He becomes the happiest man around and gives Bob a pay rise and from that day on enjoys and shares in the spirit of Christmas
Maybe it’s the beer I enjoyed after my business meeting but I had a tear in my eye on the way home at the description of Scrooge changing and becoming like a father to Tiny Tim, who he saves from death. Perfect for getting you full of the Christmas spirit.
I have started reading Christmas Books by Charles Dickens, a thick volume of various long and very short stories all collected because of a Christmas theme. Naturally you start at A Christmas Carol in Prose – the classic story of Scrooge and I thought before I post about the content it would be wise to clarify Scrooge.
All of my assumptions about Scrooge are based on vague recollections of being told the story as a child and the various film adaptations. In the traditional films Ebeneezer Scrooge is either played in a quasi-comic manner that culminates in him becoming the friendliest person in London (Alistair Sim version) or gets the Shakespearian treatment and goes from cold hearted villain to warm hero (Patrick Stewart version). I know that makes it sound like Hamlet the point is there are different ways of playing the role.
What is interesting is that by the end of chapter one in the book Dickens has painted a picture of a man who is neither comic nor particularly tragic but someone who simply doesn’t care. “Humbug” is not just something he would say to Christmas but to helping the poor, his family and his clerk. He is a grumpy person who has become so miserly he prefers the dark because it is cheap.
I will get stuck into the story and post thoughts about that tomorrow but felt that for tonight at least some sort of view on Scrooge made sense.
More about the classic story tomorrow…