Tag Archives: Charles Dickens

A Very Dickensian Christmas

23 Dec

This close to Christmas Day (and having promised to do so already), I felt I had to dedicate my final post of 2011 to perhaps the definitive Christmas ghost story – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. It is extremely difficult to find anything new to say about a story like this, which has achieved an iconic status that very few others have ever done. Characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and of course the Three Ghosts, are easily identifiable, while Dickens’ themes of regret, redemption and remorse (to mention only those beginning with an ‘r’) remain timeless. What I would like to emphasise is that, whilst A Christmas Carol certainly ends on an uplifting note, it is in many ways one of the darkest pieces that Dickens ever wrote. Dickens’ sources for the story include the humiliating experiences of his childhood and his sympathy for the poor, which is why it is sometimes viewed as an indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism as much as it is a modern fairy tale.

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The Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens

6 Dec

Like an unfamiliar side dish at Christmas dinner, the ghost stories of Charles Dickens have been largely overlooked, with the notable exception of A Christmas Carol. Consequently, faced with the infinite variety and incomparable quality of Dickens’ better known writings, from The Pickwick Papers to The Mystery of Edwin Drood, few people have explored these unfamiliar pieces in any great depth. This is, in my view, not only unfortunate but unfair, given that in his short supernatural fiction Dickens, liberated from the more formal and sustained demands of the novel format, experimented with a diverse range of fictional techniques. In his ghost stories, Dickens created frighteningly believable, spine-tingling stories of prophetic dreams and visions, as well as more fantastical adventures with goblins and apparitions. More importantly, these short works display the imagination of a master storyteller given free rein.

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