The Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (original 1843 illustrations)
Every Christmas season the same carols are sung and the usually stories are told, especially those surrounding the nativity story. Yet, as many people hearken back to a time before, some stories retain their never ending power. Such a story as The Christmas Carol, by the brilliant English writer Charles Dickens, is just one of those enduring stories. Paraclete Press has done a wonderful job in reprinting this story with the original 1843 illustrations that came with the original printing.
Why does this story stretch through the decades while remaining such an important work? For one, Dickens paints the portrait of Ebeneezer Scrooge as a dour soul who is hell-bent on profit and weary of any kindness as man easily identifiable (in a most universal way). Early in the story, Scrooge brings to the foreground characteristics of a such a man. Dickens writes, "Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!" (10). The description of Scrooge as a covetous man clutching at every profit and looking in no direction at his fellow man is part of the beauty of Scrooge's character. Just as Dickens describes London in such a crude way in his other work, the emblematic portrait of Scrooge as a old and greedy codger is seen here.
Secondly, the way that Dickens brings out the character of Bob Cratchit and the whole family Cratchit family brims with much literary force. He writes, "Oh, a wonderful pudding! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage." (75 Dickens brings together themes of humility and simplicity here that catches Scrooge off guard, because although they had little (the Cratchits), they were fully thankful and blessed by the fact that they had each other, and certainly enough food.
The spirits that come to meet Scrooge are some of the greatest elements in the whole story of The Christmas Carol. In turn, we see Scrooge not so much as a unique greedy soul, but as one who gets caught up in the sinful behaviors of someone set out on the right track and little by little going wayward.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the copy of this wonderful book.!