Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Christmas Carol

This year I have had the chance to revive a favorite tradition of mine: the yearly reading of A Christmas Carol. The past two years I have been too stressed out and crazed to even think about starting the book until five days into the Winter Break, aka after Christmas.

I think that I have a pretty evolved imagination (my mom might say overly-evolved.) However, I cannot imagine a time before A Christmas Carol was written. As I read it again, every line is as familiar to me as old family stories. The story is a part of me in a way that no other story is.

As I read I have my own mental images of the story, along with the images from many movies and plays that have interpreted it. The thing that is the most striking to me is that almost every one of these interpretations is line-by-line almost identical to the original manuscript. Few writers, directors, producers, or actors consider it necessary to improve upon the story, no matter the time in which the story is set or the manner in which characters are portrayed (by humans or cartoons or muppets.)

It is actually impossible for me to imagine the poor souls who, before 1844, did not have access to the ghost story to top all ghost stories. The one thing I can imagine is Charles Dickens sitting down to write this. I can see the seed of an idea, the pen meeting the paper to scratch out those first words, his pen moving faster as ideas poor forth, and his amazement as those first 6,000 copies sold in one day. And I think that one of the reasons that I am amazed by this story so much is that there are so few things that capture our imagination as a nation the way that this story did in England over a century ago.

I won't go on any more about my extreme love for this book. I will only encourage you to pick up a copy of your own, or watch my favorite movie of the story--Scrooge starring Albert Finney. (Be warned, it is a musical, but it is fantastic.)

1 comment:

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

When my sons were small, I tried to read Dickens' tale to them every year, but I usually didn't make it past Stave Two. Not because my boys didn't like the story, but because I was so exhausted from my work that I would often fall asleep while reading to them--and when I woke up it was Easter!

I plan to pick up A Christmas Carol today or tomorrow and read it again: "Marley was dead to begin with..."

Excellent stuff--but this time I'll be reading it only to myself.