Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Sunday Book Review, October 23, 2011: A Christmas Carol

Dear Readers and Friends,

Madame L wants to remind her readers and in particular a dear friend who keeps complaining about Christmas in October that the great writer Charles Dickens was writing about scarier-than-Halloween hauntings on Christmas Eve.

That same friend also loves to rattle on at length about how she doesn't like Mr. Dickens "...because he was paid by the word."

(Ah, if only Madame L were paid by the word. Or paid by the anything.)

Madame L understands that her friend was raised in the era of Hemingway, a writer who elevated terseness to the level of holy writ of high-school English classes; and, Madame L must add, the fact that her friend has not read a lick of Mr. Dickens since high school does not recommend her to Madame L or to anyone.

Where was Madame L? Ah, extolling a very short book (especially for Charles Dickens), "A Christmas Carol," a copy of which Madame L will put in her friend's hands this week.

This is one of the most touching Christmas stories Madame L has ever read, and she loves the details. Wordy as they may be, they are absolutely necessary for showing---and making believable---the huge change Scrooge goes through, from a selfish and self-involved miser to a humanitarian. In fact, one may think that Mr. Dickens had read one of those ubiquitous books on how to write a novel, or a screenplay, because he has created one of the few characters in all of English literature who goes through the whole five steps of humanity from caring only for himself to caring for everyone. (Or one may think that those ubiquitous books on how to write took some tips from Mr. Dickens.)

Dear Readers, if you want to get in the Christmas spirit, you may want to read (or re-read, and Madame L promises you the book will be better this time because you're reading it on your own instead of reading it for some old English class assignment) "A Christmas Carol." 

One quick excerpt: When Scrooge complains to the first ghost about self-proclaimed but hypocritical Christians, the ghost responds: 

"There are some upon this earth of yours...who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us."


AskTheGeologist said...

Madame Elle should expeditiously admeasure unto her sonorous and lugubrious readership an avuncular and mellifluous example of "Science Speak" recently imparted unto her by her most proximal relative in holy matrimony.


LFP said...

Madame L should also not forget that she's almost related to Charles Dickens, as one of her ancestors is Charles Dickens's godfather. The "H" in Charles H. Dickens comes from the ancestor's last name, Hougham.

Sorry-- I can't come close to Jeff's fabulous, verbose comment.

AskTheGeologist said...

Snort. (Scratch, scratch.) PFOOOFTTT!
Huh? Chew talkin at ME?!??

AskTheGeologist said...

Not to dis the re-lates on the distaff side, but my high school memories of reading Dickens are blurred with memories of cutting out an in-grown toenail...
I've never understood the joy, or at least the admiration. Or maybe it was the sense of duty...