A Christmas Carol (full title: A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas) is a book by Charles Dickens that was first published on December 19, 1843 with illustrations by John Leech. Dickens called it his "little Christmas Book". The first of the author's five "Christmas books," the story was instantly successful, selling over six thousand copies in one week. Originally written in six weeks under financial duress to help Dickens to pay off a debt, the tale has become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of all time.
Some historians have suggested that A Christmas Carol's popularity played a significant role in redefining the importance of Christmas and the "spirit" of the holiday. "If Christmas, with its ancient and hospitable customs, its social and charitable observances, were in danger of decay, this is the book that would give them a new lease," said English poet Thomas Hood.
It is quite short (80 pages) so is only a novella, and not a novel. There have been numerous film and television adaptations.
A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is a usurious moneylender who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night. If the experience doesn't change Scrooge's ways, he will end up walking the Earth forever being nothing but an invisible and lonely ghost, like his deceased friend Jacob Marley. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/moneychanger who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. Since the death of his sister, Fan, he holds anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love, and the Christmas season.
An excellent read; I have never watched any of the film adaptations, so I was new to the story. There were obviously a lot of moralistic content in the novella, which was interesting, and also lots of thinking points. On the downside, the "ghosts" seemed quite real to me (even if they are supposed to be imaginary), and were never fully explained. But there you go. Obviously Dickens was using them as tools in his story, rather than having any purposeful intent to write about ghosts, so I think that is okay. Excellent read, and very enjoyable.
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- Reading Age: 14+
- Reading Aloud Age: 12+
There is a "ghost" of Scrooge's friend, Marley, who comes and warns Scrooge that he is in danger of becoming a ghosts like him, and having no rest. The ghost itself has a long chain on, which is all the bad things he did.
Three more "ghosts" visit Scrooge in the story, the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. All in described in some detail, and all take Scrooge on journeys around the world seeing people celebrating Christmas.
If you like this you might like
- Other books by Charles Dickens.
- More of Charles Dickens' Christmas books.
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A Christmas Carol.
- Dickens sent out advanced presentation copies on the 17th while the official release date was the 19th. He was sold out by the 22nd. (see Hearn (2004), pg.xiviii)
- Dickens described A Christmas Carol as his "little Christmas book". Letter to John Forster quoted by John Forster's "The Life of Charles Dickens"
- Hearn (2004), xxxi
- Dickens and A Christmas Carol
- Hearn (2004), Introduction
- Les Standiford. The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits, Crown, 2008. ISBN 978-0307405784
- Thomas Hood, Hood's Magazine and Comic Review, 1844, p. 68
- A Christmas Carol and other Christmas books, Charles Dickens, Introduction, p. 8