Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dickens and the Construction of Christmas

"The Spirit of Christmas Present, Scrooge observed, is able 'notwithstanding his gigantic size', 'to accommodate himself to any place with ease'. 'He stood beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a super-natural creature, as it was possible he could have done in any lofty hall', just as the Christmas gospel proclaimed the humble stooping down of the Creator to be born at Bethlehem." 

See the rest by Geoffrey Rowell here.

1 comment:

Colin Chattan said...

A fascinating article! In addition to your excerpt, Fr. Hart, here are a couple of, I think, very good insights:
(1) "The theme of "A Christmas Carol" is not simply Christmas feasting; it is a story of conversion, of release from the imprisoning chains of grasping covetousness worn by Marley's Ghost into the freedom of compassion and generosity" and
(2)"There is no doubt that "A Christmas Carol" is first and foremost a story concerned with the Christian gospel of liberation by the grace of God, and with incarnational religion which refuses to drive a wedge between the world of spirit and the world of matter. Both the Christmas dinners and the Christmas dinner-carriers are blessed; the cornucopia of Christmas food and feasting reflects both the goodness of creation and the joy of heaven. It is a significant sign of a shift in theological emphasis in the nineteenth century from a stress on the Atonement to a stress on the Incarnation, a stress which found outward and visible form in the sacramentalism of the Oxford Movement, the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival."
There are strong echoes of these themes, in a Danish context, in Karen Blixen's wonderful story, "Babette's Feast."

It is encouraging to observe how "A Christmas Carol" still attracts and delights even our secularized society. The version with George C. Scott as Scrooge seems to appear most frequently on the tube up here in Canada (it's very good, but my personal preference remains the 1951 film starring Alistair Sim).

Thanks very much for this, Fr. Hart - a delectable Christmas present to your readers!