Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Rerun: A Christmas Carol

Post by Jenny

In the car last week, after hearing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for the umpteenth time, my younger son asked me who would tell “scary ghost stories” at Christmas. The only example that came to my mind was A Christmas Carol. A few nights later, when we watched the recent animated version starring Jim Carrey, my point was proven as the ghost of Marley rattled his chains and gave Scrooge the fright of his miserable life. The movie had its share of creepy moments, which prompted my sons to proclaim it to be “a little dark.” Well, it is a ghost story, after all.

As Dickens wrote in the preface: “I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.” Dickens began writing A Christmas Carol in October of 1843. He took six weeks to finish it, and, after a few production disagreements about endpapers and bindings, the novella was released on December 19 of that year. (I think the guy was definite NaNoWriMo material.)

The book was an immediate success, so much so that even the Americans, whom Dickens had alienated with some of his earlier work, fell under its spell. In the many years since, A Christmas Carol has inspired a host of adaptations for film, stage, TV, and print, including opera, graphic novels, more versions starring animals than I can count, and very likely the story of another, much greener, holiday curmudgeon who sees the error of his ways (The Grinch, of course).

Though Dickens went on to write four more Christmas novellas, none achieved the popular and critical success of his first. I’m no Dickensian scholar, so I won’t delve into the particulars of the author’s life or the zeitgeist of Victorian England and its parallels in today’s society. I just appreciate the story for its most basic messages: Be generous. Be kind. Be grateful for friends and family. Celebrate. And if your front door knocker gives you a piece of its mind, prepare for a very restless night.

Do you have a favorite adaptation of A Christmas Carol?


Anonymous said...

I remember one of my favorite books as a kid, and probably the first "easy reader" I had, was the Disney version of "A Christmas Carol." From then on, it's always been a favorite story of mine. I thought the George C. Scott movie version was creepy, but my favorite is probably the Jim Carrey version. I like the story for the same reasons you mention, Jenny: to be generous, kind, blah, blah, blah ;-)

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm old enough to remember a version with Alastair Sim...the original was released in 1951 (I checked), but I'm sure I saw it a few years later as a late night TV movie. It's the best one, IMHO.

Shirley Drew said...

I love them all, but I must say the Patrick Stewart version is my favorite!

Jenny said...

Oh, those are all such good Scrooges! It's tough for me to choose...

Sarah Sullivan said...

Great post! I did not know that Dickens had written other Christmas stories. Very interesting.

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