Friday, December 22, 2006

    A Christmas Carol

    My most favorite movie for the Christmas season is Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol. When I was a cute tiny tot I remember staying up Christmas Eve to watch every movie version I could find. There doesn't seem to be as many Christmas movies anymore - sad. However, thanks to DVD technology I have them all (I think), so I can indulge myself whenever.

    The Week magazine has a great history of how and why Charles Dickens wrote his famous book in a write-up called The Greatest Christmas Story Ever Told. The condensed version:

    Why did Dickens write A Christmas Carol? - He needed the money and wrote it in six weeks.
    • Did he have another motive? - Yes. Click the link above to find out!
    • How did he write it? - He expanded an episode from his first popular success, The Pickwick Papers.
    • How real were the charactors? - Several were based on people from Dickens' life. For the details, read the article!
    • How was Dickens' timing? - Wow, very interesting! Read it!
    • What was the reaction?
    It was overwhelmingly positive. The London Sunday Times declared A Christmas Carol "sublime," and William Makepeace Thackeray called it "a national benefit." The cranky Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle's wife recalled that the moment he finished the book, her husband was seized with a "perfect convulsion of hospitality and arranged two dinner parties." One American factory owner was so inspired that he gave his workers an extra day off; the Queen of Norway sent toys bearing the inscription "With Tiny Tim's Love" to the children of London. In its first year in print, A Christmas Carol sold 15,000 copies.
    • Was Dickens pleased? - Only up to a point. Read the article to find out why.
    • Why the enduring popularity? - A Christmas Carol appeals to both religious- and secular-minded readers, and offers one of the most popular themes in myth and fiction: redemption.
    • What impact has it had on Christmas?
    It accelerated the commercialization of the holiday. For all its piety, the underlying message of Dickens' story is that a little greed is good. "Essentially, Dickens is making the argument that it's okay to really like shopping, to really like having parties and enjoying the materialistic part of Christmas," said James Krasner, a professor of English at the University of New Hampshire. "In the end, Scrooge doesn't become a monk who gives away his money. He buys things for people."

    Have a safe and joyous Christmas one and all!

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