A Christmas Carol, 1843
This copy of A Christmas Carol belonged to my boyfriend’s great-grandfather and so I read it with great care – reading such an old copy added something special to my experience. A Christmas Carol is such an iconic tale but one I had never read firsthand. It is funny how the creation of a man one hundred and sixty-eight years ago can be so integrated into our culture and language surrounding Christmas that we use the name of his main character as an adjective.
I was initially surprised at parts of the dialogue which were familiar to me from adaptations. During The Muppet’s Christmas Carol, for example, when Scrooge is described as being ‘solitary, like an oyster’ I chuckled at the quirkiness of the description. Dickens wrote it.
My all time favourite line from this story has got to be:
Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!
I think this says it all about Dickens’ writing: the language is a real joy. (Say it out loud!) I bet he picked each word with extreme care.
I read on the Penguin Doing Dickens blog that Dickens is supposed to have thought up A Christmas Carol during the course of one of his infamous walks around London. He seems very much to have been a man for the people. There are all levels of society here, with a particular emphasis on how rich men like Scrooge have an obligation to look out for those suffering.
The introduction to the book immediately got me hooked:
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.
A book that has never been out of print since it was published, that helped rekindle the growing Victorian nostalgia for traditional Christmas, that has won the hearts of each new generation that encounters it: I don’t think the ghost of A Christmas Carol will be put to rest any time imaginable.