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A Christmas Carol and other Holiday Tales by Charles Dickens
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's review
Jan 11, 11

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Read from December 26, 2010 to January 10, 2011

Being as it is near impossible to gauge the narrative strength of “A Christmas Carol”—the basic story and its many film and animated adaptations so ingrained in our culture—I still can’t help myself from wondering if “The Cricket on the Hearth” would not be an even more beloved holiday staple if only more people knew of it. “Cricket” was, after all, more beloved in Dickens’s own time. The narrative twists and beautifully written passages give ample reason why a 19th Century readership, if not even a 20th and 21st century one, would prefer it. Of course, how many people are even thinking of Dickens’s knotty sentences and didactic moralizing in his original “Carol” text when they claim to love the book? Aren’t they usually just thinking of Alastair Sim or Mickey Mouse?

The real dud out of these first three of Dickens’s five holiday novellas is definitely “The Chimes,” another supernatural holiday story about the mistreatment of the poor, this time at New Year’s Eve. However, instead of Ebenezer Scrooge, one of literature’s most villainous of characters who is in due need of his comeuppance, Dickens’s New Year's goblins pile their heartbreak upon the seemingly good-hearted and undeserving Toby “Trotty” Veck. Clearly an attempt by Dickens to try to cash in again on the earlier success of “Carol.”
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