When Classics Get Precious
Enough now. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point in my lifetime Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ turned from a nice 66 page story about the spirit of Christmas into a gigantic ‘beloved classic’ industry. Worse still, it turned into a brand.
Now, I love it as much as anyone else (give me the definitive Alistair Sim film version over the dead-puppet ride Disney is touting) but what propelled it to rise above all the other excellent Victorian and Edwardian Christmas stories? Was it the fact that because Dickens toured America, it was recognised as filmable? When I was a kid Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Happy Prince’ was the Christmas story of choice, in the same way that ‘tom thumb’ was our Christmas movie and not ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ (which I have never seen).
Every culture has its own changing reference points, and now I would select ‘Tokyo Godfathers’, ‘Joyeux Noel’ and ‘Day Of The Beast’ for my alternative Christmas viewing. But when I read this article, sent from my Canadian friend Ian Martin, in which the museum curators discuss which kind of microplush to rest Dickens’s manuscript on, I did start to wonder if the whole brand thing had gone too far.