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I'll not insult you all by describing the action of this classic novella, nor belabor the lesson taught.  I'm sure even Mowgli the Jungle Boy must have heard this story once a year growing up in the jungle.  But with all the TV and movie and cartoon and Muppet iterations (the best of which remains the 1951 Alastair Sim movie version), when's the last time you went back and actually read the original book?

Dickens is, of course, a wonderful author and earlier generations read everything that he wrote.  Today, however, you read an obligatory novel or two in High School, breath a sigh of relief that's over and then blithely ignore him along with the rest of the ancients.  But, as a reacquaintance with A Christmas Carol will remind you, he remains pretty accessible and his novels are often quite fun.  What's more, there's even a Reading Version (available online, just click the hypertext) of the story that Dickens condensed himself for his numerous public readings of the tale.  It's perfect for reading aloud to the family.

Here's just a sample of the prose to entice you:

On Scrooge before:
    Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge. a squeezing, wrenching, grasping,
    scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever
    struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him
    froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes
    red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head,
    and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with
    him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas.

and Scrooge after:
    Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not
    die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as
    the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some
    people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was
    wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did
    not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway,
    he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less
    attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

    He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever
    afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man
    alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim
    observed, God bless Us, Every One!

We, all of us, have a tendency to let the classics become so encrusted that we take them for granted and forget how good they really are; if this has happened for you with A Christmas Carol, do yourself a favor and dig out a copy and reread it this Holiday Season.  I bet it becomes an annual tradition.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

See also:

Charles Dickens (7 books reviewed)
Christmas
Classics
Charles Dickens Links:

    -REVIEW : of 'Savage Reprisals: Bleak House, Madame Bovary, Buddenbrooks' by Peter Gay (Lorraine Adams, Washington Post)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Charles Dickens (1812-1870)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "charles dickens"
    -ETEXT: (Illustrated)
    -ETEXT: of The Reading Version
    -etexts of Dickens works
    -Charles Dickens Overview
    -The Dickens Page
    -Charles Dickens
    -Charles Dickens - Gad's Hill Place.
    -David Perdue's Charles Dickens Page
    -Charles Dickens (Most Web)
    -ARTICLE : The tale behind a Christmas classic (JEFF GUINN, Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
    -An Outline of the English Novel: The Short List (San Antonio College LitWeb)
    -Edgar Johnson: Dickens on the Barricades (NY Review of Books)

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