Neil Gaiman dresses as Charles Dickens to read 'A Christmas Carol'

At the New York Public Library, Gaiman read an edition of 'A Christmas Carol' that Dickens himself had edited for live readings.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Neil Gaiman is the author of such works as the 'Sandman' series and the new novel 'The Ocean at the End of the Lane.'

Charles Dickens’ classic story “A Christmas Carol” is being performed just about everywhere this time of year. So what was so special about the recent reading of the Christmas classic at the New York Public Library?

The story was being read by bestselling author Neil Gaiman decked out in Victorian garb, complete with Dickensian beard.

Gaiman read the story at the NYPL on Dec. 15 and performed the version that Dickens himself had arranged for reading live. “He even managed to make the crowd at the New York Public Library fall silent for over an hour ... which, considering how many children were in the audience, was a miracle on par with Scrooge’s change of heart,” New York Observer writer Drew Grant wrote.

Gaiman spoke with the Observer about how the story is so ingrained in pop culture now that those hearing Dickens’ tale for the first time may be surprised how familiar it is to them.

“It’s like people who read Tolkien now and complain that he uses all the cliches from fantasy novels,” he said. “With Dickens and 'A Christmas Carol,' everybody’s now encountered that story a hundred different ways, maybe ‘Scrooged,’ maybe ‘A Muppet Christmas Carol,’ that by the time you get to Dickens, you’re like ‘Oh my God, that’s the cliché.’”

Check out Gaiman dressed as the famous author on the industry newsletter Shelf Awareness.

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