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The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits Hardcover – Deckle Edge, November 4, 2008


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The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits + Joy to the World!: The Forgotten Meaning of Christmas
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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (November 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307405788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307405784
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Charles Dickens was almost 32 in late 1843, and his career trajectory was downward. Since the megasuccess of The Old Curiosity Shop, dwindling sales of his work and problems with his publisher left little doubt in his mind: he would support his growing household as a travel writer on the Continent. As the disappointing Martin Chuzzlewit continued its serialization, A Christmas Carol appeared in a richly illustrated edition. Although initial sales were brisk, high production costs coupled with spotty advertising and a low retail price made the book unprofitable. But, says Standiford, this modern fable had a profound impact on Anglo-American culture and its author's career. If Dickens did not precisely invent Christmas, his ghost story created a new framework for celebrating it. Standiford (The Last Train to Paradise) covers an impressive amount of ground, from the theological underpinnings of Christmas to Dickens's rocky relations with America, evolving copyright laws and an explanation of how A Christmas Carol became responsible for the slaughter of more turkeys than geese in the months of November and December. (Nov.)
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Review

“In this small but remarkable book, Les Standiford offers readers a gift for all seasons. Carefully researched and written in a stately, lucid prose, this book will be cherished by those who love Dickens, enjoy Christmas, or ponder the endless mysteries of human behavior.”
—Roland Merullo, author of American Savior

“A wonderfully absorbing and revealing account, full of things I did not realize about A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens, and the world of publishing. Once I started reading this book, truly, I could not put it down.”
—Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties

The Man Who Invented Christmas is destined to be a classic about a classic. As Tiny Tim might say, ‘God Bless Everyone,’ in this case Standiford, for creating such a delightful and engaging gem—part history, part literary analysis, and all heart, just like the book that inspired it.”
—Madeleine Blais, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Uphill Walkers

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Customer Reviews

This book was so much fun to read.
Carolyn Dargevics
All those who (like myself) received the volume as a Christmas gift will find it a timely and enjoyable read.
Kerry Walters
Mr. Standiford's new book is a worthy contribution to the Dickens literature.
Ronald W. Szudy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Herbert T. Moskovitz on December 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A friend sent The Man Who Invented Christmas to me as a holiday gift. The title intrigued me as I had been told by Dickens scholar David Parker that the popular belief that Dickens revitalized Christmas is false. Parker had presented lots of information to back up his assertion. I glanced through the bibliography and saw that Standiford listed David Parker as one of his sources. He also listed two other Christmas Carol scholars I respect - Michael Patrick Hearn and Fred Guida. That was promising.

However when I read on page 24 about "the memorable scene of Oliver, gruel bowl in hand, innocently asking the poorhouse's Mr. Bumble for `more,'" and on page 28 about the misbegotten waif Nell Humphrey in Old Curiosity Shop, my hopes sank. (For those reading this with fuzzy memories, Oliver asked the workhouse master for "more" and Little Nell's last name is Trent.)

But the book was very readable. I soon found myself eagerly turning pages. Despite the title of his book, Standiford doesn't claim that Dickens invented Christmas though he does say Dickens re-invented it. Then he presents lots of evidence that prove the opposite. He points out the history of many Christmas icons have no relevance to Dickens's A Christmas Carol, such as Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Santa Claus and the giving of gifts. He does claim that the turkey replaced the goose as the center of Christmas dinners as a result of Scrooge choosing a turkey to send the Cratchits.

Most likely the title came from someone in the publisher's marketing department.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ronald W. Szudy on November 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Standiford's new book is a worthy contribution to the Dickens literature. In a concise way, we learn of the influences on Dickens' life and career. We join Dickens in the creation of the timeless CAROL. In the end, Dickens' achievement appears to be even more of an enduring miracle, This book should please all who read and love Dickens and who look forward to more visits with Scrooge and his immortal ghosts.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Pruette VINE VOICE on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In mid-December, I read Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth. I was very familiar with A Christmas Carol, but had never read the other two. Then I ran across Mr. Standiford's book The Man Who Invented Christmas. I thought that it would be particularly suitable for this time of year, and I was right.

However, I did not enjoy the book as much as I expected to. The book is small and not lengthy. Even so, I felt that it could have been reduced to being a long magazine article. Mr. Standiford's writing is fine, and the subject is interesting. I just found that I was being introduced to more information about the British publishing industry than I really wanted to know. You can get a good feel for Dickens himself in the book, i.e., his early years, his family life, his occupational and financial problems. You learn about the difficulties involved with publishing a book and making any money on it. I believe you will also become convinced to read more works by Dickens.

My problems with the book had to do with a few sections that just seemed to drag. I would have been grateful for more specific information about A Christmas Carol. For example, Mr. Standiford does point out that the British geese industry ran into hard times because Dickens had the big turkey sent to the Cratchits rather than buying a goose for them. I found that to be particularly interesting, and I would have enjoyed more tidbits like that.

I did find Mr. Standiford's brief discussions of The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth to be very useful. Having just read those stories for the first time ever, I was glad to read his summaries because those stories are fairly dense and not nearly as memorable as A Christmas Carol.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Kearney VINE VOICE on January 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Charles Dickens and Christmas celebrations are considered to be synonymous by many people. His most popular and famous book A CHRISTMAS CAROL is second in popularity next to the story of the birth of Christ, at least in English speaking countries. The work is an enduring favorite and has been retold in just about every way imaginable. He wrote the book for two reasons: first he wanted to expose the ills of society, in the case of A CHRISTMAS CAROL the dehumanizing aspects of life in early Victorian England. He also needed the money. Author Les Standiford explores both of these aspects in THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS. As Standiford tells his the story of the writing of this novella and its impact, he concedes that thee result may not have been staggering changes in Victorian England Dickens had hoped for, but it did capture people's imaginations and is a leading factor in reviving the yuletide holiday in England.

Standiford has an obvious love and appreciation for Dickens. The book has extensive biographical information regarding his childhood and rise to literary fame. He handles the information well. The book reads more like a novel than a biography. He also does a good job at showing just how hard Dickens had to work to be such a popular and prolific author and how clever the author could be at earning much needed funds. He also does a good job at showing Dickens as a celebrity and looks at his successes as well as his disastrous trip to the United States.

The only area where I found the book somewhat lacking is in the exploration of faith in the life of Charles Dickens.
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