Thursday, December 24, 2020

On the Coffee Table: Charles Dickens

Title: A Christmas Carol
Author: Charles Dickens
via Amazon

A Christmas Carol is a story I have known well for almost my entire life.  I have seen stage plays and numerous film versions.  The Muppets' rendition is a family favorite (read here).  And yet, I'd never actually read the book.  

Our dear friend English Prof had a marvelous idea: a read-along via Zoom.  Yes, we're all tired of Zoom but it definitely has its place in this COVID Christmas season.  Never in human history has it been so easy to bring together loved ones from far-flung corners of the globe.  And perhaps we all appreciate the small comforts a little bit more in this troubling time.  I've actually been wanting to do a Dickens read-along as a family for years so this was a welcome opportunity to experience the work more intimately.  I think there were about 35 of us in on the call.  English Prof knows a lot of theater types so the readings were dramatic and engaging.  My daughter and I both took turns.

You know the tale, right?  Ebenezer Scrooge is a grumpy and miserly money-lender in London.  He's impatient and resentful towards everyone: his employees, his customers, indeed what few relatives he has.  And, of course, he hates Christmas.  On Christmas Eve, he is visited by spirits who teach him the true meaning of the holiday.  Upon waking, he is a new man, both generous and joyful.

It really is a beautiful book and wonderfully fun to read aloud.  Dickensian London is as miserable as ever, yet the story is hopeful.  It's gratifying to know how faithful the Muppet version is to the original text.  My daughter confessed she can't help thinking of the Cratchit family as pigs and frogs.  I assured her that Dickens would have wanted it that way.

I would love to make this an annual event.  My wife may take some convincing.  


  1. Wow, it's been a long time since I've actually read that, but, yeah, it's a great story.
    So much so that Dickens spent years travelling around reading it aloud on stage.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful idea. Les Standiford wrote a wonderful book I read several years ago (I'm surprised, but it doesn't appear I reviewed it) titled "The Man Who Invented Christmas". It's about the role Dicken's Christmas Carol played in our modern Christmas understanding. I highly recommend Standiford's book.


    1. It's truly amazing how many of our cultural tropes originated in 19th century literature.

      I remember when that book came out - pretty sure I heard an NPR interview of Standiford at the time.

      Thanks for the recommendation. Putting it on the list now.

    2. They made a movie/documentary of it. On HULU maybe?
      I haven't watched it yet.

    3. Saw that. Definitely might be worth a look.

  3. I have yet to read it. Finishing up Jon Clinch’s Marley today, however. It’s quite interesting.

    1. Sounds like an interesting perspective on Dickens's tale.

  4. I love The Muppets Christmas.
    Your Christmas zoom reading sounds lovely.
    Merry Christmas to all.
    cheers, gayle and the square ones

  5. Such a great idea to read the book together. Merry Christmas.


  6. I'm partial to Disney's Scrooge McDuck version.