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The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits Paperback – October 25, 2011
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“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
Top customer reviews
no sign of slowing down. It will most likely still be just as popular in another 200 years.
This outstanding book is split between an examination of his interesting life, particularly as to how his popularity was flagging and his finances were dismal before A Christmas Carol, and a fascinating look at 19th century book publishing/bookselling. For most of Dickens' books, books were produced in the usual way. However, A Christmas Carol was published by Dickens himself in what today would be called self-published or vanity publishing. A third focus of this wonderful book is a look at the book himself, along with how/why its popularity has soared over the years.
For some reason as I thought of Dickens at the end dying in the arms of his too young mistress after having inspired countless Christmas "christian" traditions the words of the hit man in Pulp Fiction come back with a twist: " but he was trying, he was always trying very hard to be a shepherd".
A wonderful read.