Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens


A beloved Christmas classic fully deserving of its reputation and popularity.  Dickens inserts himself as narrator from time to time, not intrusively but subtly, lending a 'storytelling' quality to the tale.  While not quite a 'ghost story' as such, the otherworldly nature of Scrooge's adventures makes this storytelling quality particularly appropriate.  It feels like a story that should be told to wide-eyed children in front of a crackling fire after a big meal. 

For Dickens, Christmas is about generosity, joy, and showing kindness to your fellow man.  None of which are bad things in the least.  However, any sense of Christmas's more explicitly religious foundations is utterly missing.  The story is still moving, and I still choke up a bit at the idea of Tiny Tim's passing, and when Scrooge lavishes his wealth on friends and family--to their utter consternation.  In fact, it almost makes me wish I'd been more miserly, so that I could see such a reaction to my change of heart.  There is something extremely touching in this kind of generosity--it moves us.  But it's not the whole story of Christmas, not by a long shot.  Then again, it doesn't have to be, provided that parents remind their children and themselves that Christmas is more than just a reminder of the benefits of kindness and prodigality.

This latest version--an audiobook narrated by Simon Vance--is a decent enough production.  As I've mentioned, the tale works remarkably well as an oral presentation.  Vance does a good job with it, though I think there have probably been better versions.  Tim Curry, Patrick Stewart, Basil Rathbone, Jim Dale, and Martin Jarvis are just a few of the notable names who've taken a crack at this classic, and I expect their narrations are all first rate. 

There are some excellent film renditions as well--George C. Scott and Patrick Stewart are fairly well respected, though I've always been partial to A Muppet Christmas Carol (which preserves the present narrator in Rizzo the Rat) and Mickey's Christmas Carol.  Then, too, Bill Murray's modern day take in Scrooged has its moments.  I cannot speak to the Alistair Sim, Kelsey Grammar, Albert Finney, Henry Winkler, or Jim Carrey versions, having never seen them. 

All in all, it's a great story, and you could do a lot worse than this audio version. At just under three hours, you could probably get through the whole thing in an evening, and it would make a nice break from Christmas music during holiday baking or gift-wrapping or what-have-you.

1 comment:

Aaron Mead said...

I'm all about the Alistair Sim version. Classic. His acting is AMAZING. I watch it every Christmas, at least once. Definitely rent it and give it a whirl.