A friend of mine suggested that I download a copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (it’s free on Amazon). Having been forced to read the likes of Great Expectations in school, I couldn’t see much use for Dickens – unless, of course, you wanted to depress yourself. From my young perspective, all of his stuff seemed so dour, and his characters so downtrodden. It was the farthest thing from a comic book you could get.
My introduction to A Christmas Carol was the Mr. Magoo special. I loved it. The ghosts and the redemption theme fascinated me. Years later, I was shocked to find that it was written by Dickens.
In 2017, there was a good movie: The Man Who Invented Christmas. It was about Dickens’ quest to imagine and write a book for the Christmas holiday in an uncommonly short time frame (there were financial pressures on the author and his family). He drew from his life experiences to come up with A Christmas Carol just in time for the season. Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame starred as Dickens.
The movie illustrated what a tenuous thing it was – and still is — to get something published. We’re so familiar with this story that it’s hard to imagine Christmas without the story of Scrooge and his ghostly visitors making him a better man. At the movie’s end, rolling text informs viewers of the overnight success of the book, and its lasting impact on the celebration of Christmas and philanthropic giving at this time of year.
I took my friend’s suggestion and downloaded the book. It’s short; maybe a hundred pages or so. I always look forward to feeling the enchantment when I view the movie on Christmas Eve, but the book took it to a new level.
And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Dickens would blush all kinds of red hues if he were alive today. How many TV shows and movies have ripped off his story and inserted their own characters? Spirited, out now, stars Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in the latest retelling.
In literature, I recall The Exiles — a weird-and-wonderful Ray Bradbury story where he couldn’t help but feature Dickens and his ghostly characters on Mars, if you can believe that!
So I figured, if Ray Bradbury can do it . . .
I enjoyed making good use of an adult Tim Cratchit character seeking help from Sherlock Holmes in A Christmas Carol Cold Case and in this season of Dickens-inspired giving, it can be yours — and anyone you want to forward this to — for less than a buck.