BAH, HUMBUG

May 8, 2005 (Updated May 8, 2005)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Simply a stunning book

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: A must read whatever the time of year


“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire.”

“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” as his Nephew bid him a Merry Christmas, and those two words encompass the feelings of the truly miserly and miserable Ebenezer Scrooge. A man of such unimaginable bad will that he only lets his long suffering employee Bob Cratchit use one piece of coal in the fire at a time. A man that sees Christmas day as little more than a poor excuse for picking a mans pocket every twenty-fifth of December, and warns the aforementioned Cratchit that he had better be at work all the earlier come Boxing Day if he is to have the whole of Christmas Day away from work. Yes, it’s fair to say that Scrooge kept Christmas in very much his own way – by simply ignoring and berating it completely, he ignored his Nephews repeated requests for him to join him and his wife for a Christmas dinner, preferring his own melancholy company. Of course this sort of attitude could not be left to fester a moment longer, and so it was that this Christmas Eve as Scrooge sat in his dark and cold chambers that a deep and mournful rattling of chains emitted from the basement and grew in strength as something – someone – seemed to be walking deliberately towards old Scrooges room, toward and then straight through old Scrooges door.

“Scrooges colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, “I know him; Marley’s Ghost!” and fell again.”

There, standing before Scrooge was the Ghost of his seven years dead partner – Jacob Marley! Dressed as he always was along with a chain of keys, padlocks, cash boxes and ledgers clasped desperately in his dead hands. “This is no light part of my penance” said Marley’s Ghost, “I am here tonight to warn you, you will be haunted by three spirits”. Despite Scrooges utterance that he’d rather not, Marley’s Ghost insisted that without them Scrooge faced an eternal path of torment similar to his own. The spirits would come in the form of Christmas` past, Christmas present and Christmas` still to come – and Scrooge was to receive the first of the three visits this very night at one o’clock in the morning. And true to Marley’s words the spirits visited Scrooge and took him on a series of terrifying journeys looking at missed opportunities in Scrooges past, of love from others spurned, of friends brushed aside and ultimately of a miserable, lonely and despised man. The question was could Scrooge do anything about the way he had become, or was he doomed to live and die on his own.

“Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and though the Spirit’s eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet them. “I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,” said the Spirit. “Look upon me!”

I doubt there are many people reading this review that don’t know the tale of Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol – be it in celluloid form, as a school play or by reading the book itself. And such is the shear lasting ethos of the tale within the tale that I’m sure it will continue to be enjoyed for many generations to come. Dickens only started writing “The little carol” in October 1843 but still had it completed in time for publication that same Christmas. Due to publishing wrangles he decided to pay for the publishing process himself and set the price of the book at a very reasonable five shillings so that the majority could afford to buy it. This meant that profits were poor but sales were high and helped cement the book as an all time favourite for years and years to come.

““I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas yet to come?” said Scrooge. The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with his hand. “You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us,” Scrooge pursued. “Is that so, Spirit?””

My view? Well, I love it, simple as that. Despite the cold and callous ways of Ebenezer Scrooge there is warmth that springs fourth from the book. The writing is powerfully descriptive and gives the reader a real feel for London in that era complete with gas lamps, biting cold and the rich / poor divide. During the visitations of Marley’s ghost and the three other spirits the fear that Scrooge feels practically leaps from the page. The language used is also laden with oldie worldly sayings and words which add to the sumptuousness of the tale, and the narrative is well paced so that the story moves apace. Each and every character is described to perfection be it the rotund and jolly Mr Fezzwig or the frail and crippled tiny Tim. I was amazed that my copy of the book was just ninety-two pages long and yet so much happens in the story – no doubt thanks to the skills of Dickens making every word count. Above all else though A Christmas Carol is an enduring story of hope over circumstance, of the ultimate good that lays in every man, woman and child, and of the joy that a little kindness can deliver.



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