Experience "A Christmas Carol" the original way

Like Edgar Allan Poe's The Masque of the Red Death or Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is in the public domain, which is why you're so familiar with it: movie and TV writers can steal the premise without having to pay anyone.

But have you ever actually read the story?

There are some differences, some things that rarely make it into the adaptations, so you may be surprised by them. Well, there are just as many radio plays and audiobooks as there are on-screen versions, so you have your pick when it comes to finding one you like. For example, this version, in which Patrick Stewart seems to be having the time of his life doing all the voices and sounds:

Or perhaps you'd prefer this slightly altered - and yet more official - version from 2013:

Acclaimed author Neil Gaiman performs a memorable dramatic reading from NYPL's own rare copy of "A Christmas Carol," which includes edits and prompts Charles Dickens wrote in his own hand for his unique public readings 150 years ago. Dressed in full costume and joined by writer and BBC researcher Molly Oldfield, Gaiman performs the classic tale as its great author intended.

(There's a speaker giving a brief introduction at the start; Gaiman's reading begins at about the 10-minute mark.)

And because what's the point of having a blog if we can't throw random things on it, here's the full text from the back of Jacob Marley's packaging:

Why do the dead walk the Earth? For some, it is because they fear what comes next, and so they cling to the memory of their mortal existence. For others, they haunt the living because they have unfinished business among them. Still, there are some spirits who linger not by choice, but because they are cursed to do so. Such is the case of the spirit who, in life, was known as Jacob Marley.

Eternally fettered, the Ghost of Jacob Marley wears the chains he forged in life. Each link is a sin that he committed against his fellow man. Each ledger and cashbox and key is a reminder of opportunities lost, of chances to lift up and assist a fellow human that he squandered in his blind greed. This restless spirit now walks amongst mankind, forced to witness the fate of those he could have helped, but did not - and yet, somehow this damnable soul found a way to not only return to the land of the living, but to finally use his influence to help another.

Christmas Eve is one of the nights of the calendar year when the barriers between the worlds of the living and the dead begin to thaw. It is therefore no surprise that it was on this night that Marley's Ghost appeared to his former partner, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. The specter brought with him a warning, that should Ebenezer not change his ways, he too would be condemned to wear the chains of a life poorly lived. Yet Jacob Marley also brought with him hope, for he explained to Scrooge that he would be visited that very evening by three additional spirits and that he still had a chance to turn from this path - a chance which old Marley had procured for him.

Ever the businessman, Jacob Marley was brokering deals with the spirits even as he dragged around the heavy burden of his own sinful deeds. For he could not assist those he shunned in life, but he could be the instrument that would help redeem the soul of Ebenezer.

This story is an old one, and most know that Ebenezer Scrooge was not only saved, but that he became as good a man as any knew. He held Christmas in his heart the whole year through, and all the lives he touched with his remaining time on Earth owed that goodwill to the ghostly intervention of the "good man of business" once known as Jacob Marley.

Now you know why we truncated it. It's interesting how many adaptations just have Marley announce what Scrooge will face, and fail to mention it's something the ghost set up in an effort to save his old friend.

But hey, you've made it through all that text, you might as well get a Giftsmas present. Here's a quick half-hour film adaptation you can watch:

This entry was posted in addendums, books, videos and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Experience "A Christmas Carol" the original way

  1. Shocka says:

    Forgot I wanted to include this:

    custom figures, made by one Dirk Nagel, of Jacob and Robert Marley from A Muppet Christmas Carol, made by putting Palisades Waldorf's head on the Figura Obscura body, and putting Statler's head inside the safe. The heads have been given very professional-looking blue paint apps to make them look accurately ghostly

    • yo go re says:

      I remember (on the Spawn boards, maybe?) someone being flabbergasted when they finally got the joke of the brothers being named Jacob and Robert...

  2. James says:

    "It's interesting how few adaptations just have Marley announce what Scrooge will face, and fail to mention it's something the ghost set up in an effort to save his old friend." Don't *most* adaptations fail to mention that? Or did you word that incorrectly? Or maybe I'm just ignorant of the majority of adaptations...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *