Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
narrated by Tim Curry
Ⓟ 2010,
3.5 hours

Yeah, you think you know the story; but unless you've read the actual work or listened to an unabridged recording of the Classic tale, you don't. That's right, as much as the premise of this story has permeated our Western culture, you probably only know it as the tale of Mr Scrooge being visited by three ghosts, Past, Present and, Future; and how these visits transform Scrooge from a cold, miserly curmudgeon into a generous and loving soul. There's a crippled little boy who pulls at our heartstrings by refusing to be bitter and wishing all and everyone good cheer. But this story has been adapted, re-interpreted, and bastardized so often, that the original is sure to surprise anyone who ventures to try it. One element that is often overlooked when repackaging A Christmas Carol as family fare is that there are some truly scary things in it, that the story might more accurately be categorized as a Horror piece. There are careening black horses drawing a hearse, ghosts that outright terrify, visions of sick, starving and dying children, not to mention the cold-heartedness not only of Scrooge; but of Victorian England's penchant for orphanages and workhouses. While Dickens no doubted wanted to call attention to these social injustices and perhaps motivate others to rectify them, the fact is that the social commentary is often suppressed in modern re-makings of the tale, as if children no longer suffer because of [insert any country's name here] government's domestic policy or that social inequity is a quaint artifact of history. What Dickens didn't know was that, in setting his tale at Christmas, the story would be highjacked into a heartwarming, if slightly cautionary tale that limited the wrongs to belonging to just Scrooge. Whereas in the original work, Mr. Scrooge is emblematic of all that is wrong in society, very often Scrooge is now portrayed as the sole miscreant.

This particular edition of A Christmas Carol tips the listener off that it may not be the story that you might expect by starting off with a music tag that sounds more appropriate to a Halloween tale. From the intro, the audio segues into the rather lackadaisical narration by Tim Curry. If you like celebrity reads, no doubt this audio will provide its own inherent charms; but for others who are less starstruck, it's bit disappointing.

Ignorance and Want

John Leech


Wood engraving

Full-page illustration for Dickens'sChristmas Carol: Ignorance and Want

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham.

Other Stuff: I dnloaded A Christmas Carol (by Charles Dickens; narrated by Tim Curry) from as part of a free dnload promotion for members in 2010. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing this product and/or mentioning any of the persons, companies and/or challenges that are, or may be implied in this post.


  1. An excellent review of a Christmas favorite. Sorry to hear Tim Curry's narration wasn't so good, I loved him on "A Series of Unfortunate Events."

  2. I thought Tim Curry was an odd choice for A Christmas Carol and wasn't surprised to find it a little disappointing. You should try Jim Dale's version, instead.