It’s Throwback Thursday and we’re reviewing one of literature’s classics! During the month of December, we’re reviewing books that celebrate the season. Enjoy!
A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens (Adult Fiction)
How does one go about describing Ebenezer Scrooge? Perhaps our story’s narrator says it best: “Oh! But he was a tightfisted 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, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.” Yes. That will do nicely. But no matter how vile Scrooge is, he has an equal by the name of Jacob Marley, his business partner that’s been dead seven years to the day. This very night, Marley will pay a spectral visit to Scrooge in hopes of salvaging his former colleague’s soul and thus sparing him from an afterlife laden with rusty chains and regret.
A Christmas Carol is Dickens’ beloved and cherished Christmas song to the world. First published in 1843, this classic story is divided into staves (or staffs) rather than chapters where every character is a note, every ghostly visit is a movement, and every revelation is a crescendo that builds to the climax when Scrooge realizes the dire consequences of his avarice and malevolence.
There are more than two dozen film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, but nothing quite compares to reading and absorbing Dickens’ original words, which contain a few subtleties that are otherwise lost when presented visually. One example is that prior to Marley’s visit, the characters of Bob Cratchit and Fred are nameless and simply given titles such “clerk in the tank” or “Scrooge’s nephew”. This omission would lead the reader to conclude that these characters are inconsequential; however, it is only later in the book when we realize what an important part these individuals will eventually play in Ebenezer Scrooge’s road to redemption.
I love the many moral and spiritual lessons we can glean from A Christmas Carol: “In order to fully realize life, one must love and be loved in return”; “Learning begins with listening”; “It’s important to learn from the mistakes of others”; or, if you’re a businessowner, “Treat your employees nicely”. My personal favorite is taken from Marley’s visit with Scrooge where the former says, “I am here tonight to warn you that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate.” In an uncertain world where, despite careful planning or our best intentions, life doesn’t always go the way we wish, and it is therefore important to remember that if there is a chance—no matter how slight or remote—then there is still hope.
* Book cover image attributed to www.scholastic.com