The Ghost of Dickens' Christmas Past
December 1, 2009 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been reprinted, abridged, disected, redrawn and re-told on film numerous times, but the original 66 page manuscript has rarely been seen by the public. The manuscript was obtained by The Morgan Library & Museum during the 1890s, where it is currently on display. If you can't make it to New York this time of year, you can take a close look at 4 heavily edited pages and attempt to decipher Dickens' original writing, thanks to The New York Times.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The best sitcom version- Scrooge Gets an Oscar
posted by Zambrano at 10:24 AM on December 1, 2009

What shoddy penmanship. If I were his teacher I'd flunk the brat.
posted by qvantamon at 10:25 AM on December 1, 2009

I hear it's better in the original Klingon.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:38 AM on December 1, 2009

If you ever have a chance to see the Indiana Repertory Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol, holy shit go. The production's done on a large stage covered in plastic "snow" that allows the actors to pull props from nowhere and return them as quickly, and the characters act as a sort of chorus/narrator. The actors change from year to year, but Scrooge and Cratchit are constantly done by the same guys, and they're all spectacular. It's the one thing my family does together every year, without fail, and I wouldn't miss it for the world. Or necessity. You know.

I will stop gushing now.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on December 1, 2009

Amazing. Thank you, flt.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:39 AM on December 1, 2009

posted by monospace at 11:33 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll assume that means "too messy; couldn't read." If so, here's a hint: By clicking on the "T" or the page icon on the left, you can toggle between the hand-written and typed versions of each page. Unfortunately, there's no typed version for the crossed-out sections, which are of significant interest.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:51 AM on December 1, 2009

I love that ability to toggle between his handwriting and the neatly typed versions. At first I could hardly read anything in his manuscript, but after going back and forth between the two a few times I can start picking up more of his hand writing. Maybe I can apply the same concept to my doctor's prescriptions.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:56 AM on December 1, 2009

I highly recommend The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits.

Interesting fact: There is no mention of a tree, wrapped gifts, or anything relating to the nativity in Dickens' Carol.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:39 PM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

As nineteenth-century handwriting goes, this really isn't too bad. Now, William Wordsworth's MSS are pretty darned scary, IMO. (To see an example, go here and click on "MS JJ: The Early Prelude"--sorry, can't do internal links to that site).
posted by thomas j wise at 12:41 PM on December 1, 2009

It's no Eye of Argon, that's for sure.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

It's the greatest novel ever written. It tells us that whatever we are or whatever we have been, we can change. It confronts us with the reality of death, judgement and resurrection. It's ghosts are terrifying, but the most terrifying lines are these, delivered by Marley's groaning shade:

Marley: "I wear the chain I forged in life! I made it link by link and yard by yard! I gartered it on of my own free will and by my own free will, I wore it!...
In life, my spirit never rose beyond the limits of our money-changing holes! Now I am doomed to wander without rest or peace, incessant torture and remorse!"

Scrooge: "But it was only that you were a good man of business, Jacob!"

Marley: "BUSINESS? Mankind was my business! Their common welfare was my business!"

posted by Faze at 2:02 PM on December 1, 2009 [3 favorites]

Oh, this is stupendous. Thank you.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 3:23 PM on December 1, 2009

And to think, he wrote it all in only six weeks. I really wonder if fiction suffers because the computer makes it so very easy to over edit.
posted by Kellydamnit at 6:33 PM on December 1, 2009

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