No doubt as this Advent commences, I, and many others, will be re-reading Charles Dickens’s 1843 seasonal classic “A Christmas Carol” for the umpteenth time. Those of us who have fallen under its spell will doubtless continue to do so every year, even if we live to be as old as the oldest Biblical patriarch, and each time with the same degree of emotion – whether it be delight, wonder or sadness – as the times before.
In any other context, such behaviour might be interpreted as borderline obsessive, but that simply doesn’t apply here. Ponder this for a moment: there are few other works in Western literature that have enjoyed such a breadth and variety of adaptations across all media. The tale continually reinvents itself, the same and yet different; yet by any reasonable measure the work is slim, compact – by Dickens’s own expansive standards positively Lilliputian. So what is its secret?
Guy Reid-Brown has put together some illuminating thoughts regarding the stages of Scrooge’s initiation. Does the final ghost make you think of the Hiram story?