Friday, December 11, 2009

No Humbug

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens (1843)

I’m guessing you all know the story and have probably seen it in various adaptations but might not have read it yet. I hadn’t either; good thing we have this list.

Every time I read Dickens, I regret that I don’t have more time to read him more, and I feel bad whenever my attention drifts because, as far as I can tell, all of his passages are rewarding if you only pay attention.

The guy just seems to love to churn our words, but more than merely churn, he makes them bubble and froth. This is from the last part of A Christmas Carol:

He was checked in his transports by the churches ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, clang, hammer, ding, dong, bell. Bell, dong, ding, hammer, clang, clash! Oh, glorious, glorious!

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out his head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stirring, cold; cold, piping for the blood to dance to; Golden sunlight; Heavenly sky; sweet fresh air; merry bells. Oh, glorious. Glorious!

Recently, my kids and I saw the new animated film version of this story. Though I think that Scrooge was miscast and that the Ghosts ought to have been played/voiced by different people, I was impressed by how creepy the movie was and how much it honored the ghost story as a scary visitation from the beyond and not just as a means for time travel. Thinking about the Present (as a gift as well as a point in time) in its relation to the other times is, after all, the point:

Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion! But of the loved, revered, and honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one feature odious. It is not that the hand is heavy and will fall down when released; it is not that the heart and pulse are still; but that the hand WAS open, generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and tender; and the pulse a man’s. Strike, Shadow, strike! And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the world with life immortal!


moonrat said...

i know this is probably too dorky to be believed, but i actually have large passages of the christmas carol memorized--including probably most of the first stave. i remember clearly the first time i read it--it was in my seventh grade english class, where we belabored every last tiny word, of course--and i'm jealous you get to experience it for the first time!!

i hate dickens as a person. but i love his books. sigh.

Goedi said...

moonrat, you probably knew I'd ask this, but: You've met Dickens, the person?
You look great for your age.

moonrat said...

don't i? it's all the bugs. high in protein; keeps one's fur glossy.

Goedi said...

and as to memorizing it. not dorky. pretty awesome. I was thinking of memorizing the passages I quoted, but now I'm not so sure, if you say it's dorky.

moonrat said...

peeeer presssssssure