Charles Dickens had the power to shape history and to change behavior. His classic A Christmas Carol helped revive Christmas traditions and to usher in new ones (for the time) like Christmas trees and holiday cards.He also inspired a renewed interest in charitable giving and in helping other less-fortunate people. A Christmas Carol has become such a beloved holiday tale that it has not been out of print since it was first published in December 1843.
It's probably the most well-known of Dickens' works, and it is definitely my favorite.
I feel very protective of the story. Although I'm not a traditionalist in most things, for some reason I want the story of Ebenezer Scrooge told in all its Victorian glory. Don't change a holly twig or a "Bah, humbug," or I'll become the spirit of Christmas crackdown.
I don't feel that way about other classic literature. I'm a big fan of Clueless (based on Jane Austen's Emma), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (based on The Odyssey), or even West Side Story (Romeo & Juliet). But don't touch A Christmas Carol. I'm talking to you Bill Murray.
There is a production of the story playing locally, with a Jamaican woman narrating the play. Sigh. And why? A viewer is jarringly taken out of the dark and spooky Victorian era every time the poor woman speaks. It isn't her fault, it's just the high (or dare I say great) expectations of the story.
I'm not the only one who can find herself in a high dudgeon over Dickens. New productions of his books are in the works, all in preparation for the upcoming 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth in February. Evidently, the BBC has decided to change the ending of Great Expectations and has written an ending for the previously-unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood (click here for the article).
I'll reserve my judgement of those two until after I see them. Meanwhile, I'll finish reading A Christmas Carol for probably the 100th time. And I'll say of Dickens, as Scrooge did of old Fezziwig, "The happiness he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune."