“A Christmas Carol,” a globally celebrated timeless tale of heartwarming human redemption designed as a haunting holiday ghost story, was published in London on this day in history, December 19, 1843.
With the exception of the biblical account of the birth of Christ himself, “A Christmas Carol” is perhaps the best known and most often told tale of the holiday.
English author Dickens, then 31, had recently achieved literary stardom after the release of ‘Sketches by Boz’, ‘The Pickwick Papers’ and ‘Oliver Twist’.
“‘A Christmas Carol’ was written in a matter of weeks to ensure publication before Christmas 1843, but its message has stood the test of time,” notes the Charles Dickens Museum in London.
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“Acknowledged by critics upon publication as ‘a national benefit to every man and woman who reads it, a personal kindness’, the story has been retold and adapted ever since. »
Wealthy, miserly and lonely, Ebenezer Scrooge derives pleasure only from his money, bitterly laments the arrival of Christmas and the joy displayed by its celebrants, and hates the paupers who suffer on the streets of London’s industrial revolution.
A Sotheby’s employee holds an 1843 first edition of the classic book ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens in London, Tuesday December 5, 2006. (Photo by Suzanne Plunkett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“If they’d rather die, they’d better do so and reduce the surplus population,” Scrooge says in a particularly unsettling glimpse into his soul.
Still, he’s filled with goodwill toward the man after a series of ghosts take him on a journey through his life of happy past, hateful present, and ominous future.
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“His wealth is of no use to him. He doesn’t do any good with it,” Scrooge’s nephew says, in a moment revealing the emptiness of his despondent existence.
The characters and slogans of the little book have stood the test of time.
“A Christmas Carol” became Dickens’ most famous and culturally impactful story, in a career that produced a long list of classics that followed. Among them: “David Copperfield”, “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Great Expectations”.
The short book’s characters and catchphrases have not only stood the test of time; they entered the lexicon on both sides of the Atlantic and remained there almost 200 years later.
British novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870) sat in his study at Gads Hill near Rochester, Kent, circa 1860. (Photo by Epics/Getty Images)
Scrooge is synonymous with miser.
His characteristic terse line, “Bah, humbug,” is uttered to express grumpy mocking disdain.
“Dickensian” depicts situations of urban decay or the poor living there, such as bullied Scrooge employee Bob Cratchit.
“Dickens’ short story about the original Christmas grinch has been a holiday staple for nearly two centuries. — National Endowment for the Arts
“God bless us, everyone,” the jolly refrain at the end of “A Christmas Carol,” spoken by Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim, is an oft-used toast that sums up nearly every joyful occasion when others words fail.
“Although he only spent a few weeks writing it, Dickens’ short story about the original Christmas grinch has been a holiday staple for nearly two centuries, spawning countless adaptations for stage and film. ‘screen,’ Paulette Beete wrote in 2020 for the National Endowment for the Arts. .
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Beete cites an incredible list of adaptations: more than 100 movie versions, according to the International Movie Database, 20 TV series that featured “A Christmas Carol” or its characters; four operas, two ballets; even a video game.
Several versions of “A Christmas Carol” have become annual holiday viewing fare for millions of families.
A black-and-white version from 1951 starring Alistair Sims as Scrooge is considered a classic among many adaptations and still finds itself on television almost 75 years later.
George C. Scott (left) stars as avaricious businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, and Edward Woodward (right) is the ghost of the Christmas present, in ‘A Christmas Carol,’ the classic Christmas tale by Charles Dickens. Originally aired on CBS on December 17, 1984. Image dated April 1, 1984. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Actor George C. Scott of “Patton” fame had a critically acclaimed performance as Scrooge in 1984.
Non-traditional versions of history are also celebrated. Among them: “The Muppet Christmas Carol” with Michael Caine in the title role in the middle of a world of puppets; and the animated “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” featuring Disney icon Mickey Mouse as Cratchit.
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Dickens’ beloved tale of Christmas in 19th century London may have its origins in the United States.
The young author visited the United States in 1842 where he met one of his literary icons, the much older and more famous American author Washington Irving.
Dickens spent time with Irving and his brother, Ebenezer Irving.
Dickens returned to England and began writing “A Christmas Carol”.
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The character archetypes that animate the pages of “A Christmas Carol” first appeared in Irving’s writings, noted literature scholars and Irving fans, as do many of the idyllic images we associate now to a classic 19th century Christmas.
American author, biographer, historian and diplomat Washington Irving (center, seated in black suit) with literary friends, circa 1830. From an original engraving by Geo. E. Perine. (Photo by Kean Collection/Getty Images)
“Irving (as alter ego Geoffrey Crayon) raves about traditional Christmas fun at a fictional estate called Bracebridge Hall,” notes the Historic Hudson Valley website, where Irving lived and placed many of his stories.
“If any author can claim to have invented this venerable holiday, it is Washington Irving. »
“I say, gentlemen, I’m not going to bed two nights out of seven without taking Washington Irving under my arm upstairs to sleep with me,” Dickens reportedly said, according to multiple sources.
“God bless us all. —Little Tim Cratchit
Yet there is no doubting the impact of “A Christmas Carol” on the holiday season or on English-language literature.
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Scrooge “has become as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as good old town knew, or any good old town, city, or borough, in good old world,” Dickens writes at the end. of the famous tale.
“Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh… His own heart laughed: and that was good enough for him. »
Kerry J. Byrne is a lifestyle reporter at Fox News Digital.
Source : BBN NEWS