“These are but shadows of the things that have been.”
Every Christmas, I make a habit of reading Dickens’ famous A Christmas Carol – or as it is simply called in our household: Scrooge, thanks to the wonderful film adaption staring Albert Finney as the eponymous villain-to-hero; a film I will always love and have practically grown up with,
It’s a concept by which I am forever intrigued: that of a novel becoming a film; adaptation; what can be achieved, for good or bad, depending largely upon whether we happen to have read the book first or seen the film – whichever comes first plays a major influence. I happen to think that it’s sometimes healthier to see the film first, for I’m certainly then more able to appreciate film-adaption, cutting/editing decisions made, and so forth, as well as what might be a tad superfluous here and there within the text – while knowing nothing ever should be in a good book; I get a proper level of both mediums.
And how many times have you heard: ‘Oh the book’s much better!’
With Scrooge, or rather A Christmas Carol, the book is a classic, there’s no denying it; and it happens to contain one of my all-time favourite literary lines, when the Ghost of Christmas Past explains to Scrooge that: “These are but shadows of the things that have been.” Such a haunting line for me, that one.
Indeed, the novel is adorned with all the usual (accessible) colour and beauty of language that we would expect from Dickens; the magical way in which he seems able to personify just about anything he touches – a house losing itself up a back-alley!
As usual also with Dickens – as with any author – his angst creeps through the text at times, by the way he allows himself the odd snipe at incompetent people in important positions – we need to feel passionate about causes to be a real writer/artist and Dickens was no different.
But all this aside, what pleases me most with A Christmas Carol is that Dickens not only never pulls punches with regard to how things are/were, but he equally avoids the trite and saccharin that a lot of readers (and film viewers) tend to demand from a book (or film). They say all happy endings are ironic – what then? Might Finney’s Scrooge have soon awoken from a fit of Christmas Night/Day madness? Dickens skilfully covers his tracks, by informing us what will come of this beautiful story once the book is closed… And a beautiful, trite-less, uplifting story it is indeed…
A must for all readers of fiction…
pics courtesy of Wikimedia and Public Domain Pictures Net.