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The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  653 Ratings  ·  88 Reviews
Everybody said so. Far be it from me to assert that what everybody says must be true. Everybody is, often, as likely to be wrong as right. In the general experience, everybody has been wrong so often, and it has taken, in most instances, such a weary while to find out how wrong, that the authority is proved to be fallible. Everybody may sometimes be right; but _that's_ no ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Wildside Press (first published 1848)
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Community Reviews

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Jo Woolfardis
The Haunted Man is Dickens' longest Christmas story, though it is mostly made of repetition and pointless metaphors.

A university chemist wishes for a spectre to remove all of his pain, anguish and painful memories, whilst giving him the ability to pass that terrible curse in to others. What follows is a story of how we cannot exist without our past pain, because good and evil must co-exist for there to be any humanity at all.

It is a touching tale but far too long and far too Dickensian for even
May 13, 2017 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

The opening paragraphs to this Christmas-redemption story might seem lengthy due to some repetitions, but they do much to set the mood, as do the descriptions of physical surroundings. The latter continue throughout the work and to great effect, especially as Redlaw traverses the streets with the orphan boy. (You worry about them both.)

The doubling of the “haunted man” and his” ghost” recalled for me the 'doubles' of A Tale of Two Cities, yet here the meaning is literal. In what was almost a
Nov 07, 2014 Mpauli rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately this story was very difficult for me to digest.

Regarding its language, there is a lot of unnecessary repetition and it might be fun once or twice to let a husband and wife repeat the same sentences over and over again, but it gets dull soon.
I've read that Dickens got paid by word count, so that might be an explanation for the overabundance of repetition, but it really dragged the story down.

The plot itself is rather confuse and more often than not the author failed to paint a clean
Stephanie Blake
A Christmas Carol was the first of five Christmas books written by Charles Dickens. "The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain", a lesser known work, was the last of that series.

The Haunted Man, Professor Redlaw, is haunted by his sorrowful past. The only redeeming feature of his youth was a sister who died. The memories are continually brought before him by a Phantom who offers him relief. When he allowed the Spectre to cancel his remembrances, Redlaw made a surprising discovery. Not only did his
Dec 04, 2008 Jon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last of Dickens' Christmas books. About a man who allows a ghostly manifestation of himself to remove all his painful memories of sadness and loss, and then suffers an unintended consequence--losing the ability to sympathize with the sufferings of others. An early reviewer thought the story was somewhat incoherent, and I understand what he meant--the "gift" the ghost gives includes the proviso of inflicting the "gift" on others--so all the characters he meets similarly lose their painful mem ...more
Dec 27, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dickens fans, Christmas Spirit stuff
Recommended to Jason by: Dickens' Christmas Book
Read in A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Classics.

4.5 stars, though the high rating is for personal reasons. It spoke to my heart. It stabbed right to the center of it because I could relate to the theme and it's moral. There were a few morals, but the main one for me was "don't be a wanton dick."

Often I deliberately turn my heart cold. I set it to stone, or iron even. It's more difficult nowadays, but sometimes I just don't want to feel. When one feels, he is subject to pain, and I don't a
Jun 15, 2009 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a dark Christmas story, even by A Christmas Carol standards. It does include a great comedic element: the Tetterby family. They are a hoot. It's the third Dicken's Christmas story I've read and, no surprise, A Christmas Carol remains my favorite.

One of the things I like about Dicken's Christmas tales is he incorporates Christmas's darkside--when lonely people get lonelier, sad people get sadder, and selfish people get more selfish. Dicken's provides hope that such vice and folly can
Thomas Johnson
Apr 18, 2009 Thomas Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dickens crafts another dark yet hopeful Christmas tale here. Redlaw is a better developed and subtler character than Ebenezer Scrooge, and his visit with a spirit -- and the results of that visit -- are arguably more heartbreaking. Scrooge learned his lesson by looking in on those people he knew and watching their lives undetected. Redlaw only realizes his mistake once he has inflicted suffering on many more than just himself. There's a clear lesson to the story, but it's a little more interesti ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Greg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just read this story for the third time. Of Dickens' five short stories for Christmas, I think this one's message is the most profound and the most overtly Christian. Its supernatural events are not as spectacular as "A Christmas Carol," but it makes a stronger statement: that remembrance is the source of gratitude, even painful remembrances, the purpose of which is not to regret or resent the past, but to forgive it. To forget without forgiving brings bitterness and misery, but with forgivene ...more
Dec 13, 2011 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly due to too many annual Christmastide readings of A Christmas Carol this year i decided to read switch to one of hid other festive tales and I was glad I did. The main character "The Haunted Man" is darker and less flamboyant in his miserliness than Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. The writing is more succinct and most of the characters are drawn with less caricature pose than the Cratchits as an example. The theme is also more interesting "do we need our bad memories as well as our good me ...more
Polly Clarke
This would have been a two star but for Dickens wonderful personification of the landscape. Poetic and perfectly wonderful even in at its most depressing. This isn't a story for everyone and it touches on tragic death in typical Victorian fashion. Overly sentimental, long winded at times but in conclusion, Dickens is saying, let us be thankful for our joys and sorrows. I say... have a very merry Christmas!
Well, that was incredibly tedious.
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Charles Dickens' last Christmas story is a vivid account of a man tormented by his past. With Michael Tudor-Barnes and John Moffatt.
Dec 28, 2013 Iain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain is the fifth of Dickens' Christmas stories with the old adage that if it is to good to be true, it is. When Professor Redlaw is presented an offer, by of course a phantom, to "forget the sorrow, wrong, and trouble you have cancel their remembrance." Well he naturally accepts and the story begins to play out all set about the Christmas season. After a series of trials and tribulations without the memories of sorrow to complete the man we get the ...more
Darren Hirst
Jan 13, 2017 Darren Hirst rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think think this the finest of Charles Dickens' Christmas stories which I return to every December. It is profound and whereas many of the "Christmas" stories are not set at Christmas, this joins the better known "A Christmas Carol" as being set in that season. It touches my heart and enhances my desire to be a better person and I guess that that would be praise indeed but it is more than that because this is exceptionally well-written without being obvious. I find myself returning to small se ...more
Ive just finished the fifth and final novella of Dickens Christmas series. I struggled with it even though I loved the characters within and it was a pleasure yet again of seeing life through the eyes of a giant in the art of observation. I'm definately going to read it again though next time I will do it in one sitting and try to pay more attention to what was troubling the character Redlaw concerning his sister and his old friend. I missed the cause of his grief till near the end so couldnt un ...more
Jason Reeser
Jan 02, 2012 Jason Reeser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came across this novellette in my Kindle collection of Dickens. I had never heard of it before and was pleased to find it. It is the last of the 5 Christmas stories that Dickens wrote. It has similarities to A Christmas Carol. It has a great premise, though many readers might think it is too sentimetal, maybe too treacly. But I didn't. Take a few hours to read this forgotten Christmas treat.
Elinor  Loredan
I don't know why this one isn't almost as famous as A Christmas Carol, because it is very profound, addressing the question of whether we would be better off if we could forget all of our sorrows and troubles. The story, in which that very thing happens to the hero, argues that we would not, but lose all of our softness compassion, and gratitude for good times, infused with Dickens' characteristic humor and pathos.
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Alia Makki
Dickens, when he's pushing it, really pushes it.

Like, dude, I know that he's an 19th century hotshot and we bow at his brocaded descriptions and giggle on cue at his funny feet, but even with a thin plot and hints of boredom for an overdone genre, there still come times when -- after a moment of holding our breaths -- THAT'S FREAKING SCARY!!
Brian Cambra
I started out not liking this story very much. Indeed, it took me quite some time to get into it and at times it was confusing. However, the overall idea that our troubles and sorrows are truly beautiful things, that remind us of the joys that have been and may yet be, is a wonderful idea. Dickens does a remarkable job of putting our common thoughts on their heads.
Manuel Alfonseca
This is the fifth of Dickens's Christmas books, less known and, for me, not so good as the first ("A Christmas Carol") and the third ("The cricket of the hearth"). It is a little repetitive and at times too slow-moving.
Dec 14, 2016 Ginny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What was Dickens doing here? Although the critics panned it, it outsold A Christmas Carol by thousands when it was first released. Worth reading more than once--complex structure and metaphor. I think he is talking about dementia and how desperately sad that is. It ends by referring to a prayer: "Lord, Keep My Memory Green"
Dec 24, 2016 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Dickens' final Christmas novella, and one of the best, a psychological ghost story of resentment and forgiveness.
Starts out slow but gets better if you stick with it.
Boy finally through with it. Dickens really gets on my nerves !
Dec 26, 2015 Brandon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2015
This is the last of the Dickens Christmas books and is the only one besides 'A Christmas Carol' that actually takes place over Christmas but that is all the two books have in common. This book dies deal in the supernatural with a ghost making a bargain with the main protagonist to remove the painful memories that haunt him and in return he loses his humanity and sense of empathy. This is an allegorical tale from Dickens abundant imagination but it falls flat compared to his other works. Though i ...more
Andrea McDowell
Nov 29, 2013 Andrea McDowell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I read this as part of a Dickens Christmas Anthology rather than separately, but it's hard to review that way, so I'm going to cheat and claim to have read this version:

The Haunted Man is in many respects Dickens' most modern Christmas story. The main character is a respected and well-off scientist, kind enough, but obsessed with wrongs in his past that have made him permanently bitter. Why was I cursed with a life that began that way? he asks. Why can't I forget and move on? Why can't I find jo
3.5 ✨
Geoff Wooldridge
This is one of Dickens' Christmas novellas (like A Christmas Carol), published in 1848.

It is relatively short and simple, and is a moralistic parable about the redemptive powers of memory.

A chemist, Mr Redlaw, is offered a bargain by a ghost or spectre, who visits him on Christmas Eve, to eliminate all his memories of sorrow and hurt, without loss of the knowledge he has accumulated by learning through his life.

A further condition of accepting this perceived gift is that Redlaw will similarly af
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Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and sho ...more
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“Christmas is a time in which, of all times in the year, the memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, and trouble in the world around us, should be active with us, not less than our own experiences, for all good.” 18 likes
“Everybody said so.

Far be it from me to assert that what everybody says must be true. Everybody is, often, as likely to be wrong as right. In the general experience, everybody has been wrong so often, and it has taken in most instances such a weary while to find out how wrong, that the authority is proved to be fallible. Everybody may sometimes be right; "but that's no rule," as the ghost of Giles Scroggins says in the ballad.”
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