Monday, December 23, 2013

The Three Spirits of Christmas from "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.

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A Christmas Carol is a novel by English author Charles Dickens, first published in serial form by Chapman & Hall on 17 December 1843. 

Genres: Social criticism, Fiction, Fairy tale, Novella, Ghost story, Parable, Morality play, Speculative fiction

The protagonist of the Novel, Ebeneezer Scrooge, is a miserly old gentleman who has a passionate dislike toward Christmas and the general revelry of the season, characterized by his famous line 'Bah, Humbug!'. 

On Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley. Jacob is bound in chains, which he explains are his punishment for a life of cruelty to the poor. Scrooge is then visited by 3 ghosts that night. 

The first Ghost, shows him his Christmases past, where we see that Scrooge wasn't always a bad man. 
A scene at the end of the story with the old miser carrying the frail Tiny Tin away from the cold to the comfort of his home and treating him as if he were his son. (Acknowledgement: Charles Dickens: Interesting Facts and Information Written on October 3, 2012 by James in Books and Authors, Famous People The Victorians; Wikipedia, Internet)
The Second Ghost shows him the Christmas present. He sees the dismal condition of the life of the poor, esp of his secretary, who has a large family, and his poorer nephew. These both are shown as happy despite being poor, in contrast to bitter Scrooge. Scrooge shows remorse at last, as well as pity. 

He is then visited by the 3rd Ghost, of Christmas future, who shows him his grave, as well as the general public not caring about his death; auctioning his goods, etc.. 

He wakes up to find that it is Christmas Day, and sets about helping the poor, including his secretary, and enjoying life and celebrating Christmas.

Dozens of editions have been produced based on the original work, catering to all ages from very young children to very old people.  It has been translated into different languages and presented on various media - from stage play to cinema, TV, and Internet, and now, through Social Media. Which points out not only to the popularity of the story, and its enduring relevance through generations and historical events since its first publication as a book in 1843. 

Below are selected front covers of different editions.  Each cover draws a particular interest and curiosity among readers.  One is a pop-up book that helps "dramatize" the scenes and characters.  As a children's book the ghosts have been tamed, so to speak, so that they can carry the message in a friendly manner through entertainment and as a bedtime story, in the same way, cartoons and light drama have successfully evolved from the story reaching millions of children all over the world.    

Perhaps it is most fitting this Christmas Season to look back at the theme and message of the novel, fiction as it is, yet it touches the very core of human behavior and sensibility
The Musical Version became a box office, just like Oliver  the Musical, based on Oliver Twist, an earlier and more popular work of Charles Dickens. We can compare our own Noli The Musical, based on Rizal's famous novel, Noli Me Tangere. 

Two book covers show the finale scene, a happy ending with the old miser finally changed and became a friend of children and the community. 

A miser's world is fenced by money away from people. Fear is written on the miser's face, as his grave wait at the background.   
Here are two contrasting scenes. Surreal and Fantasy
Here is a modern presentation through performing art by a composer arranger. At the right is a traditional volume intended for reading. Note page markers.  
As a stage play, the emphasis is on the characters, dialogues and costumes. 

Above: Bank note bearing Charles Dickens image, an honor to one of England's greatest sons; (right) A tribute to the great storyteller (1812-1912).  He was honored last year on his 200th birth anniversary (bicentennial).  

Charles Dickens at work on A Christmas Carol 

Writings of Charles Dickens in his own handwriting, painstakingly edited personally in a number of times before the final draft is printed. We can only imagine the tremendous amount of work needed in his time as compared to the present with the state-of-the art in publishing, both in print and through e-publication. Note his signature at the bottom of the last photo. ~   

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