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Wanda's Book Reviews

I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles.  (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).

A Christmas Carol / Charles Dickens

A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like...and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!


My first experience with Dickens and it was very pleasurable. A Christmas Carol is very short, but how much it packs in! I think this is a story that we all think we know, having seen TV versions, theatrical productions and even advertising based on it [very ironic, yes?]. Scrooge has become synonymous with grasping selfishness and we forget that he undergoes a significant transformation during the course of the story.

One theatre company in our city has been performing A Christmas Carol for over 20 years, with the same man playing Scrooge every year. He was interviewed on CBC radio this year and told a remarkable story of having a high-powered businessman come backstage one night, in tears, saying, “I am Scrooge and you’ve made me realize that I have to change my life.” Calgary is an oil and gas town and there is a lot of right-wing conservatism of the flavour that seems to think that poor people deserve to be poor and that helping them is someone else’s problem. I think that it is interesting that a story written in the 1800s still has relevance in the 21st century!

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to live in a secular society, but I sometimes wish that capitalism was still balanced with societally sanctioned requirements to care about our fellow human beings, that companies be required to consider the good that they can do for the community, not just make money for shareholders. Many do charitable deeds, of course, but I still feel that it is mostly for public relations, rather than because they actually believe in them.

I was surprised to find that A Christmas Carol is rather non-religious. The factors that change Scrooge’s behaviour are personal, emotional, and universal—none of his motivations are about the afterlife, they are all about how people think about him in the past, the present, and at his death. We are social primates and we cannot help but care about these things.

An important reminder during a season of materialism in a society that is obsessed with consumerism that there are things that transcend money and possessions. I haven’t yet attended a performance of the play, but I think I will plan one next Christmas!