Memories of A Christmas Carol: a Classics Club meme

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?

A Christmas Carol 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:

A Christmas Carol - Peter Fluck and Roger Law 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!

7 thoughts on “Memories of A Christmas Carol: a Classics Club meme

  1. Lisa says:

    Most adaptations have to leave things out, often because they want to add other things not in the story itself. I’m very fond of the Alastair Sims version from 1951, we watch it every year, but it can’t compare with the original. I’m not a huge Dickens fan, but I am of this.

  2. therelentlessreader says:

    I love this story 🙂 You know, I don’t think that I’ve ever read it from cover to cover. It’s hard to remember if I’ve read it or if I just know the story so well from watching the many many versions of it on television or from the time I acted in the play? Beats me, but I do love the tale 🙂

    • Helen says:

      Yes, when a story becomes such a big part of popular culture it can be hard to remember where you first heard it, can’t it? I’m glad to hear you love it too.

  3. Leander says:

    Hello Helen! How wonderful to have had an edition illustrated by Rackham – I do love his artistic style. It’s been some years since I read this and I admit that in the interim my engagement with the story has been *ahem* largely through The Muppet Christmas Carol, so my memories of the story may have become somewhat warped thanks to that (you mean Bob Cratchit isn’t actually a frog?!). Time to find myself a proper copy ready for next year, I think.

    I’ll look forward to seeing your best books list later this week, but for now, Merry Christmas and hope you have a lovely day tomorrow (I hope Father Christmas brings you lots of good books too)

    • Helen says:

      I’ve always loved Rackham’s illustrations in this book – they’ve become tied together with my memories of the story itself.

      Merry Christmas to you too, Leander!

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