Monday, May 6, 2013

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Stories, Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas WritingsA Christmas Carol: And Other Christmas StoriesMarley was dead, to begin with, there is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to.

Even though I don't celebrate Christmas, I still enjoyed A Christmas Carol (And Other Christmas Stories). It's a really good story, with really great writing. It's also one of Dickens's most famous works. A Christmas Carol is very well known; it's the story of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who is a sort of 19th century Grinch. Right off, I want to say that I'm not overly fond of Christmas myself (especially the consumerism), but Scrooge hates it, and doesn't even want to wish anyone a Merry Christmas. One year, he gets taught a lesson by the ghost of his old partner Marley and three other spirits, The Ghost of Christmases past, present, and future. The other pieces in this collection (cover on right) are: "A Christmas Tree (from reprinted pieces), A Christmas Dinner (from sketches by Boz), and A Good-Humoured Christmas (Chapters 28 and 29 from The Pickwick papers)."

I think I've read the beginning of A Christmas Carol a while ago, but I never finished it, and I had certainly never read the other works in this collection. I was very pleasantly surprised; Dickens can be really, really overwritten, but A Christmas Carol wasn't overwritten at all. Perhaps he wasn't getting paid by the word for it. There were some great descriptions of food in A Christmas Carol: of goose and pudding and fruit and other delicious treats. My only criticism is that Scrooge seems to reform rather quickly; as soon as the first spirit arrives he seems ready to repent of everything he's done. I don't think it's that easy in real life to change a person from a humbug to a philanthrope. Still, it's a pretty heart-warming story, and a lot better written than a lot of Dickens's novels. Even the ones that I love (like A Tale of Two Cities) are really dense when compared to this one. (pgs. 30-138).

A Christmas Tree was a rather verbose and drawn-out description. It's just pondering about everything about Christmas. I may have skimmed through most of it. There some witty sentences, but it's nothing exceptional. It's still less overwritten than many of Dickens's full length novels. (pgs. 139-162). A Christmas Dinner is very similar, although there are actual characters in this sketch. It's only seven pages though, and not much happens. I'm not really sure why these two were included in the book. 

A Good-Humoured Christmas is an excerpt from The Pickwick Papers, which I want to read eventually. It was better than A Christmas Tree and A Christmas Dinner, though I confess that I skimmed over some parts of it. At least there are actual characters, and time to develop them. I didn't really know who the characters were, however, since I've never read the book from which the chapters are from, and only vaguely remember them from Little Women. Still, it's an enjoyable story. (pgs. 171-218). 

Those are all the stories in the collection, which overall is very good. 

Read A Christmas Carol and Other Writings:
  • if you like Charles Dickens
  • if you like tales of Christmas
  • if you like British literature
218 pages. 
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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