A video talk
One of the most compelling tales ever written, A Christmas Carol is a phenomenon. First published in 1843, Charles Dickens’ novella is now inextricably linked to Christmas. It is profound, archetypal, and it touches desires deep within us all for second chances and the opportunity to redeem past mistakes.
In February 1812, a little boy was born in Portsmouth. This child would grow into a fighter against injustice and tyranny, a showman and actor, a husband and father, and one of the greatest novelists of all time.
Find out what motivated Charles Dickens to write the story that’s had a profound effect on how we celebrate Christmas today.
A Christmas Carol has a simple, linear plot, a fairly small cast of characters, and it is a tale designed not only to make us think and reflect, but to make us feel. The story provides the catharsis of great tragedy without the horror and gloom of a tragic ending. We see Scrooge’s ordeal, begin to identify with him (wouldn’t we all love to see the future consequences of our actions, or be able to rectify past mistakes?). Like Scrooge, we feel cleansed and purified by what happens, we come to see that there could be reprieves. The tale reassures us that change is possible.
“We have to go back to Shakespeare to find a writer who, through fiction, has so enriched the thought of the people. Admit all Dickens’s faults twice over, we still have one of the greatest writers of modern times.”
― Jerome K. Jerome
He was called ‘The Great Inimitable’, ‘Boz’, Mr Dickens and Charles – by whichever name you know him, he was one of the greatest writers of all time. He created the Dickensian world and peopled it with unforgettable characters. He entranced rich and poor, English and foreign, with his novels, and he brought about great social change through what he wrote.
But what about the Dickens the man? I am fascinated by his life and personality and love to read biographies of him. There are times I hate him – for example, in his unkind treatment of his poor wife.
At other times I love him. I admire the way he dragged himself up from a difficult childhood and used the experience to create children who suffer in his fiction. I hate the fact that he died before he turned sixty, leaving a novel that will forever be unfinished; but I rejoice that he lived as long as he did and made full use of his time in giving us such masterpieces as Bleak House, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and, of course, A Christmas Carol.
It took Dickens six weeks to write A Christmas Carol and the story developed “a strange mastery” over him. As he wrote, he wept and laughed and was so excited by this new story that he kept writing through the night or would walk the streets thinking about its progress. There was some disagreement with his publishers, but Dickens believed so fervently in the power of his new work that he paid for the production of the book himself. Wanting to make it available to the masses, he lowered the cost to 5 shillings, which meant that he made almost no profit.
No other story captures the spirit of Christmas as powerfully as this one, it provides the catharsis of great tragedy without the horror and gloom of a tragic ending. Find out how Dickens came to write A Christmas Carol, what his sources of inspiration were, how it helped shape the way we celebrate Christmas, and the amazing impact of the novella about Scrooge and the three ghosts.
Every Christmas the historic Morgan Library in New York puts on display one of its greatest treasures – the original manuscript of A Christmas Carol which Dickens had bound in red morocco leather as a gift for his publisher. It was acquired by collector Pierpont Morgan in the 1890s. Each year the precious manuscript is opened at a different page so that viewers can delight in a new scene. You can buy the Morgan’s own facsimile edition from the museum shop, or read it online.
Dickens’ little book pricked the social conscience of Victorian England. It showed the Victorians the importance of families being together and of being kind to everyone.
Over the decades there have been dozens of theatrical adaptations, many radio versions, and some opera versions of the story, how can you account for the extraordinary and enduring popularity of this book? Have you seen any of the movie and TV versions and if so, do you think they do a good job of depicting the essence of the book? Let’s discuss it here.
At just $9 this Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.
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Loved it and watched twice!
Thanks again for the lovely lecture. I had wonderful feedback from the Societies when I sent it out and they have asked me to pass on their gratitude. I watched it myself over the weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it.
On behalf of the Committee and members of ADFAS Ku-ring-gai may we thank you for access to your talk on Charles Dickens and his novella, A Christmas Carol. It was a most appreciated gesture from you for our committee and members at the end of this dreadful year. We need the message of Christmas more than ever this year.
Your talk on Dickens was astonishing. I loved it!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel and listening to your insightful lecture.