Synopsis: After reading Christmas Carol, the notoriously reculsive Thomas Carlyle was “seized with a perfect convulsion of hospitality” and threw not one but two Christmas dinner parties. The impact of the story may not always have been so dramatic but, along with Dickens other Christmas writings, it has had a lasting and significant influence upon our ideas about the Christmas spirit, and about the season as a time for celebration, charity, and memory.
Title: A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher: Penguin Classics
I am a Christmas addict. I’m not religious but I still love the holiday – in fact, it might be my favourite one. Why? Because it’s a chance for me to do up the house with stockings, a beautiful Christmas tree, spoil everyone with presents that they’ve wanted all year, and eat a terrifying amount of turkey and stuffing, and drink mulled wine. What’s not to love?
So it may come as a shock that I’ve never actually read A Christmas Carol; I know the story, I’ve seen about 10 different adaptations of it but have never gotten round to reading it. This year, I was determined to read it but, admittedly, it may have been largely because of the fact that the Penguin clothbound hardback was so beautiful I couldn’t say no to buying it.
The story was everything I thought it would be: heart-warming, meaningful, and absolutely beautifully written. With beautiful illustrations. You can’t help but get washed away into a Dickensonian world full of … food? Yes, I said it, food. I had no idea how many mouth-watering descriptions this text has of Christmas food?!
I digress. What I love most about A Christmas Carol is that, despite being based on dark images of despair and death, its pages are filled with images of warmth and light. No wonder his work is one of the greatest influences on Christmas tradition.
This edition comes with other Christmas stories, such as The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain. I actually preferred this story to A Christmas Carol. Everyone knows the story of Scrooge, but I doubt many people know this novella, which happens to be Dickens’s last. We are introduced to a chemistry teacher who is burdened by all the sorrows and wrongs of his past. In a moment of despair he makes a bargain with a ghost to relieve himself of these sorrows but in doing so, loses his sense of humanity. His saviour, Milly, teaches him the moral:
“It is important to remember past sorrows and wrongs so that you can then forgive those responsible and, in doing so, unburden your soul and mature as a human being.”
And by realising this, he manages to set everything back to normal, accept his burdens as a necessary part of life; forgives, forgets, and becomes a better person for it.
All in all, this beautiful hardback edition is a great edition to my collection, and will most likely become one of the books I read every Christmas.