“A Christmas Carol” has long been one of my favorite Christmas stories. Each year I watch at least two or three different versions of it (and occasionally more). As funny as this may sound, my favorite version is “The Muppet Christmas Carol”.
But I’d never actually read the book until this year. When I picked it up I imagined that I could probably recite the dialogue perfectly. I’ve seen the movies so many times that I figured I knew all of the classic lines. Well, suffice to say I was wrong, there’s much I couldn’t have recited.
The book is phenomenal. It’s easily one of the greatest pieces of English literature I’ve ever read, and likely one of the greatest ever written. I can’t very well describe how much I enjoyed reading this. (This is a cliche’ but) It’s like I was hearing the story for the first time. Like I’m just now “getting it.”
And Dickens’ sentences are amazing! That’s likely old news to anyone who’s studied any English Lit in school, but it was the first thing I thought after closing the book: Dickens’ sentences are perfect.
I’m sure that other more qualified reviewers have written whole thesis papers, Cliff’s Notes, and secondary texts on this book or on Dickens’ work in general. And since I assume that most of us already know this story, and since I’m no where near qualified to write a review of substance on a work by Dickens, I’d just like to highlight some of my favorite lines from the book that I’ve never heard in a movie:
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that, while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
“…for it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty founder was a child himself.”
(These first two quotes are in reference to Scrooge’s nephew Fred and the party at Fred’s house. This next quote is in reference to the children of Man, Ignorance and Want. See what I mean by ‘perfect sentences’?)
“Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched and twisted them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, half so horrible and dread.”
(This last sentence makes me smile just because it mentions my trade: marketing. It’s in reference to the folks who stole Scrooge’s bed curtains and sheets after he died [in Christmas future] and pawned them off.)
“As they sat grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the old man’s lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and disgust which could hardly have been greater though they had been obscene demons, marketing the corpse itself.”
If you’ve not read this story, I encourage you to do so. It’s a quick, fantastic read, and like most books, it’s better than the movie!