Sunday, October 6, 2019

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (novel #137)

It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. ~ Ghost of Christmas Present to Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge is such a miser and curmudgeon that his name has become a byword for both. He is unpleasant at all times, but is particularly hateful during the season of brotherly love. 

The fates, – Dickens that is – find something worth redemption in the bitter old churl, as they spend the whole of Christmas night reclaiming his soul.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read Dickens’ classic novella. I tend to focus on the central character Scrooge, and for good reason. I wish I could say, I've never had a Scrooge-like thought, never looked down my nose at the less fortunate, never blamed them for their own misery, never wished them away, but I make no such claim. A Christmas Carol is a gentle – or perhaps not so gentle admonishment – to beware such poison. 

But for all Scrooge's vices, there are beautiful, positive virtues in this tale as well: The goodness of Bob Cratchit, the devotion of his wife, the optimism of Tiny Tim, the unconditional love of nephew Fred, and the innocence of the “remarkable boy” in the street. I’ve said elsewhere on this blog that I believe A Tale of Two Cities is Dickens’ greatest work, and I stand by that, but A Christmas Carol may be his most delightful.

I give it 4 of 5 stars

I know it's an odd time of the year to read this, but it is after all a ghost story, so not completely inappropriate for October. I read this for R.I.P. 14 as well as the Classics Club Spin #21


“What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” [Scrooge to nephew Fred]  

 “Come then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough”

Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.”

…for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself.

“Man,” said the Ghost, “if man you be in heart, not adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered what the surplus is, and where it is. Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die? It may be, that in the sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man’s child. Oh God! To hear the insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust!” ~ Ghost of Christmas Present

 This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. ~ Ghost of Christmas present



  1. It's a ghost story. Perfectly reasonable to read it for RIP

  2. I often read this in December, and I never thought of it as the perfect ghost story. It truly is! Did you read this edition, w/ PJ Lynch as illustrator? This is the copy I own. I do appreciate his illustrations.

    PS This story is a beautiful teacher for a heart examination. I love it!

    1. Yep...that's the one. Yes the illustrations are better than many I've of Dickens' works.

  3. I love Dickens but have never read this. It was, however, probably my first introduction to him. I remember watching a black and white film version of it as a child. Of course, it makes sense that it can be read for RIP as well as in December. :D

    1. Oh you really should read it. I've heard it is a work of literature that is one of the most frequently adapted to film, and there are numerous wonderful film versions...but you know what they say. The book is indeed better than the film(s).


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