The Classics Club monthly meme question for December asks us for our thoughts and memories of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens:
What is your favorite memory of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol? Have you ever read it? If not, will you? Why should others read it rather than relying on the film adaptations?
I was given a copy of A Christmas Carol as a Christmas present when I was a child, though I don’t know exactly how old I was. I can’t remember who gave it to me either, but I suspect it was probably an aunt or uncle. I remember taking the book with me to my grandmother’s a few days after Christmas and reading those famous opening lines for the first time:
Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.
The last time I re-read the book was in 2009, shortly after I started blogging, and it was still a pleasure to read – both the story itself and this particular edition. It’s a beautiful hardback book with colour illustrations and black and white line drawings by Arthur Rackham. Reading a book that looks and feels beautiful can really enhance the experience! Rackham’s twelve colour plates, originally published in 1915, can be seen here. I’ve always liked the one of Bob Cratchit sliding down the icy street.
I received a different edition of the book a few years later from another family member (again I’ve forgotten who it was). I’m not sure where I’ve put this one, though I know I must still have it somewhere. After a lot of searching online – which wasn’t easy, as there are literally hundreds of different versions of A Christmas Carol and I couldn’t recall the names of either the illustrators or the publisher – I managed to find a picture of the front cover for you:
This edition, which I’ve discovered was published by Viking, was illustrated by Peter Fluck and Roger Law (who were also the creators of Spitting Image) with pictures of grotesque puppet-like caricatures, like the one of Scrooge pictured on the cover.
There have been so many adaptations of A Christmas Carol, but although the story and the sentiment might be the same, if you only watch them instead of reading the novel you will be missing out on so much. As I said in my 2009 post on the book, even if you already know the story it’s still worth reading it for the richness and humour of Dickens’ writing and for his wonderful descriptions and imagery.
You can see how other Classics Club members responded to this month’s meme here.
Have a great Christmas and I’ll be back later in the week with my Best Books of 2012!