There is really only one book you can read over Christmas and that of course is ‘A Christmas Carol’ by the legend that is Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol was first published by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843.
Put simply it is about the redemption of Ebeneezer Scrooge who is a:
‘tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.’
Not a touch of kindest or compassion about him, in fact when asked to give a contribution to the poor he retorts:
At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.” Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge. Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again. And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. Are they still in operation?” They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, I wish I could say they were not.” The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge. Both very busy, sir.” Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. I’m very glad to hear it.” Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?” Nothing!” Scrooge replied. You wish to be anonymous?” I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned: they cost enough: and those who are badly off must go there.” Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.” If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”
redemption most definitely needed! The tale has been viewed as an indictment of nineteenth century industrial capitalism which left many people in extreme poverty and degradation.
It has made the silver screen on several occasions, the first in 1910 starring Marc McDermott, Charles Ogle and William Bechtel but the best known are probably ‘Scrooge’ starring Alistair Sim, ‘A Christmas Carol’ starring Patrick Stewart, Richard E. Grant and Joel Grey and a personal family favourite ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol’ Starring Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo the Great!
So let’s join Ruth Goodman at the top of the post then you can download the whole book for free here