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The Haunted Man
Charles Dickens
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The Haunted Man (Christmas Books)

3.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  480 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
In this story, Dickens narrates the hair-raising experiences of a professor. As the protagonist dwells on his past sorrows and mistakes, a phantom visits him. It offers him a bizarre escape from painful recollections of yesteryear by offering to eradicate his memory. On seeing the professor turn into a man devoid of emotions, the reader realizes how empty one becomes witho ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 1848)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,376)
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Saoirse Sterling
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
Dec 06, 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
Celeste Corrêa
Charles Dickens é um escritor talentoso e delicado, contudo recordo-o sempre como um autor deprimente quanto às histórias que conta.

"Quanto a histórias, não a ambiente...para isso temos Kafka", acrescenta a minha irmã.
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
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
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
Dec 19, 2011 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
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!
Sep 03, 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
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.
Nov 17, 2015 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
Shelves: christmas, dickens
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
Dec 29, 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
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.
Dec 29, 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
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.
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.
Tom Lowe
Dec 19, 2015 Tom Lowe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful Christmas story, with the usual Dickensian Christmas Book elements of specters and phantoms, all conjured up by the main character's troubled mind. Early in the story, Dickens describes a simple winter's sunset in the city in such a way that it was truly a treat to peruse, absorb, and ponder. What an imagination! What a pen! As in the rest of Dickens's Christmas books, it has a happy ending, though the tale is full of strife and angst, as Dickens is the master of dissecting the ment ...more
Paul Taylor
The shortest of his Christmas stories it has the mystery and gloom of the gothic novel combined with the eternal Dickensian theme of a struggling working class with little hope of redemption or support of the detested "ruling" classes. The inclusion of the tragic waif is the essence of the story developed from the theme of poverty and ignorance that appear at the feet of the Ghost of Christmas present in the Christmas Carol.Better than the Battle of Life but not worth an extra star. Christmas Ca ...more
David Bland
Dicken's wrote 5 Christmas Novellas. The most well known is "A Christmas Carol". "The Chimes" and "The Cricket on the Hearth" are also well known. "The Haunted Man" and "The Battle for Life" sold well, but are less well known today. The 3 I read prior to this one ("Carol", "Chimes", and "Cricket") seem cohesive, and generally follow characters that we meet early in the story. "Haunted Man" starts with "The Chemist" and his servants, and later abrubtly jumps to the Tetterby family. The jump was s ...more
Well, that was incredibly tedious.
Feb 13, 2016 Sammy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I really have no idea what this is, and I'm not sure I care to find out further.

No, no, that's not fair. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain is the final of Dickens' Christmas novellas, and the 15th all up of his 24 major works. Published in 1848, at the height of Dickens' busy career as playwright, social avenger, board member, husband, father, traveller, speechmaker, celebrity, and Dombey and Son churner-outer, this is perhaps my least favourite of the Christmas novellas. Well, The Battle
Aug 04, 2015 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
I read this back-to-back with Dickens's fourth Christmas book, and my expectations weren't high, as I found The Battle of Life to be probably the least accomplished book by Dickens that I'd read to date. However, The Haunted Man was a real surprise, and I'd rate it second of the Christmas books after A Christmas Carol, with which it has a lot in common. The comic supporting cast (the Tetterby family in particular) is very funny, but the real, albeit qualified success of this novella lies in the ...more
This short Christmas story is reminiscent of A Christmas Carol, in that a ghost appears and propels the main character into drastic changes with plenty of moral lessons along the way.
Dickens is extremely long-winded in this one, and at his finest with the long descriptions of everything. (Confession: I skimmed half of the descriptions.)

I loved the basic premise of the story- the sorrow and troubles in our lives teach us valuable lessons.
I laughed so hard at the Tetterby family, especially poor
I always 'do a Dickens' each winter, hoping to read them all before I shuffle off, and this is a good warm up to get my ear in before I begin Edwin Drood.

A novella, in the Christmas Carol mode, with a man haunted by a spectre who teaches him a life lesson. The poor chap's issue is somewhat more complex than Ebenezer Scrooge's. He is stewing on past hurts and has the choice of being relieved of the pain of those hurts on two conditions - that he is also loses the memories of the cause, and that h
Read this book in February and couldn't remember the story to do a review so I reread it while on holiday in a couple of days in December.
The story is basically a moral about appreciating the positive and happy times the more for remembering trouble & strife, and unhappy times.
The main character is not evil, just a normal person who is weighed down by sorrows of his past & as such seems generally disengaged with those around him. His goodness comes to the for when "the gift" he is given
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
Mike Jensen
Dickens's Christmas masterpiece was A CHRISTMAS CAROL. This story, rather good in itself, seems a minor work in comparison. How would I feel about it had I not read the other? Hard to be sure, but I think the merits of this short novel would be more apparent. There are certain similarities, however, with the earlier book that makes this one seem paler than it otherwise might. Certainly not a bad book, but would anybody read it had it not been written by Charles Dickens?
Dec 18, 2015 Abhi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was around this time in 2014 that I thought I would pick "A Christmas Carol" up once more, and discovered the "Christmas Books" series. Fitting indeed that I've come to end of the series when it is Christmas time again.

Each one of these books has something to teach, some joy to share, and so many special and adorable characters (Mouse!). The central message of this particular book reminded me of the Pixar movie "Inside Out".

Lord keep my memory green! Merry Christmas!
Dec 17, 2014 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found The Haunted Man a tough story to get into. Forty pages in, I was completely confused and so started at the beginning again. Thankfully my second attempt was more successful, however, as with The Chimes, it felt like an alternative Christmas Carol, albeit dystopian. The moral, once it came to it, was insightful; that we need the good and bad aspects of our lives in order to truly live and experience others. However the wordiness made the moral difficult to hone in on, especially if readin ...more
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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
More about Charles Dickens...

Other Books in the Series

Christmas Books (5 books)
  • A Christmas Carol
  • The Chimes
  • The Cricket on the Hearth
  • The Battle Of Life

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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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