Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Carol

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say.... Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"~said to Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol

The novella by Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was written over 6 weeks in 1843 and published to immediate critical acclaim. When the handwritten manuscript was returned by his publisher, Dickens had it bound and gave it as a gift to his solicitor. It was eventually sold and changed hands among autograph collectors and booksellers until it was purchased in 1890 by American financier and fan J.P. Morgan (1837-1913). It now resides in the Morgan Library in New York City and is displayed under glass every Christmas, but only open to a single spread. The difference this year is that the library has allowed the New York Times to digitize all 66 pages. So you can see not only where he wrote, but how.

Charles Dickens is credited with being the most influential in reviving Christmas traditions, since the holiday had gone into decline. And we still find the moral of his story applicable today.

Coincidentally, in addition to seeing Dicken's edits, you can see how he cleaned his teeth: his ivory and gold toothpick just sold at auction for $9,150.

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