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Christmas and Charles Dickens

By David Parker

LC 2005043618
ISBN-10: 0-404-64464-3
ISBN-13: 978-0-404-64464-2
Cloth $79.50

AMS Studies in the Nineteenth Century, No. 34


“[T]he most important book to date on the topic of Dickens and Christmas. [Parker’s] chapter on the Carol is quite simply the most complete and sensitive treatment of this extraordinary story available, written by the ex-curator of the Dickens House and a man who knows exactly how to write about Dickens.”

—Ruth F. Glancy, Concordia University College of Alberta, Dickens Studies Annual

“Destined to become the definitive study of Dickens and Christmas, this meticulously researched book is a must for anyone interested in Dickens or in British history and culture. . . . Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers; all levels.”

—J. D. Vann, emeritus, University of North Texas, Choice

When he was curator of London’s Charles Dickens Museum, David Parker was frequently asked by journalists and visitors about Christmas and the Dickens connection. The questions usually amounted to: “You could say, couldn’t you, that Charles Dickens was the man who invented Christmas?” Christmas Dickens proponents argue that the author redirected public attention to the old Christian customs and festivals, as though England ceased to be jolly with the decline of the Middle Ages and the rise of Modernity. This book grew out of a desire to set the record straight.

As Parker notes in his preface, “[Dickens] — with many others — rekindled seasonal rejoicing only among a minority. No rekindling was needed for the majority. The Christmas books, the stories about Christmas, and the Christmas episodes in other works by Dickens all in fact grow organically out of a living festive tradition. . . . What above all is needed — and what I have tried to supply — is patient interpretation of historical sources and of Dickens’s own writings, free of perverse preoccupation. . . . I offer, therefore, a history of the festival in England from its inception up to Dickens’s own day, an analysis of Dickens’s writings on it, and an explanation of why it is that both history and writings have been misunderstood.”


Contents
Literature and Festival
The English Christmas, 598 to 1660
The English Christmas, 1660 to 1840
Dickens and Christmas, 1812 to 1842
1843: A Christmas Carol
Christmas Books and Stories, 1844 to 1854
The Remnants of the Feast
“The Invention of Christmas”
Notes
Works Cited
Index