In the bah-humbug of Christmas present, would Tiny Tim get Scrooged?
Would Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' stand up to the critics in today's cynical age? Our bestselling dystopian novels and movies lack the message of redemption so central to Dickens' novella – and the heart of Christmas. But Tiny Tim's message of blessing cuts through the darkness in any age.
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Both have been wildly successful; “Unforgiven” won four Academy Awards, generated nearly $160 million in global box office revenue, and was recently recognized by the American Film Institute as the fourth best American film in the western genre. “A Christmas Carol” has obviously done pretty well too; to speak of its success is almost redundant, so central is its place in our collective consciousness during the holidays. It has been adapted into countless films and theatrical productions, and has never gone out of print since its initial publication in novella form in December of 1843.Skip to next paragraph
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So, both stories have been very popular. But you have to wonder, if they were both released in 2010 for the first time, which would do better? Which would the critics pan? Which would strike a chord? One can only imagine, but let’s look at what people are reading these days to find some clues. On the New York Times Best Seller List for hardcover fiction during the week of Dec. 12 we find titles and descriptions such as:
“Full Dark, No Stars,” by Stephen King (Scribner). Four long stories, light on the supernatural and dealing mostly with grisly human behavior.
“The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson (Knopf). The third volume of a trilogy about a Swedish hacker and a journalist.
“The Emperor’s Tomb,” by Steve Berry (Ballantine). The former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone travels to China after a woman close to him is tortured for the return of a mysterious artifact.
Tiny Tim's timely message
With all due respect to these very skilled authors, I don’t see a lot of redemption on that list – retribution, maybe, but not redemption. Frankly, I just don’t see much room on that list for “A Christmas Carol,” as originally conceived by Dickens. And if it were written today, you can imagine what the reviews might look like: “Hopelessly naïve. Utter cliché. Disgustingly annoying, with its one-dimensional characters and condescendingly trite platitudes – the Ghost of Christmas Past should remain just that – a ghost. This book is better off dead.”
But it’s not dead. “A Christmas Carol” was written, and it’s still in print today. The play is most likely being performed right now in a theater somewhere. To paraphrase the words of Dickens, the spirit of this great book walks abroad among our fellow men, traveling far and wide, wandering the Earth. Books like “Hell’s Corner” will come and go, but the Ghost of Christmas Past will always be, shining through the cynicism of any era. And so will Tiny Tim – his message warming the hardened hearts, blessing us all this Christmas – every one of us.