“This volume is a distinguished addition to a superb series. Richard Kelly’s fine edition of Dickens’s ‘timeless classic’ richly documents just how very timely this little book was.” Michael Slater, Birkbeck College, University of London
About the Author
Charles Dickens was a famed British novelist who began his career as a freelance reporter. One of his first works, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, sparked his fame, and he soon began touring the US and England performing readings of his works. Today, Dickens is known as one of the most prolific Victorian authors and was a staunch advocate for the poor and social reform. Some of his most famous works include Oliver Twist (1839), A Christmas Carol (1843), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), and Great Expectations (1861).
Ángel Domínguez was born in the Basque Country in 1953. He is an award-winning illustrator of more than twenty books and is known throughout Spain. His lavish work has already been compared to some of the greatest illustrators of the past century, including one of his inspirations, Arthur Rackham. Ángel’s art has graced postage stamps, magazine illustrations, stationary, postcards, earthenware, and more. He has illustrated multiple Racehorse for Young Readers books including The Jungle Book (2016), The Twelve Days of Christmas (2017), and Beauty and the Beast (2017) The art that he created for The Jungle Book won the CCEI Award in Spain for best illustrated book. Also notable among his work is “The King’s Gift,” which he illustrated specifically for Queen Rania of Jordan in 2000. He lives with his wife in Laredo, Spain.
Date of Birth:February 7, 1812
Date of Death:June 18, 1870
Place of Birth:Portsmouth, England
Place of Death:Gad's Hill, Kent, England
Education:Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington
Read an Excerpt
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon' Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.
Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, his sole mourner.
Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name however. There it yet stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley He answered to both names. It was all the same to him.
Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, was Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!
Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you? when will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his fife inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "no eye at all is better than an evil eye, darkmaster!"
But what did Scrooge care!
Once upon a time of all the good days in the year, upon a Christmas Eve-old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, bitMg foggy weather and the city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already.
The door of Scrooge's countinghouse was open that he might keel) his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal litde cell beyond a sort of tank-was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire., but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.
"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation Scrooge had of his approach.
"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"'
"Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don't mean that, I am sure."
"I do. Out upon merry Christmas. What's Christmas time to you buta time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a yearolder, and not an hour ri cher; a time for balanci ing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented deadagainst you? If I had my will, every idiot who goes about with 'MerryChristmas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, andburied with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"
"Nephew! Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it mine."
"Keep it! But you don't keep it."
"Let me leave it alone, then. Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"
"There are many things from which I might have derived good, bywhich I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I amsure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred origin, if anything belong' ingto it can be apart from that as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitab1e, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of theyear, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-uphearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really werefellow-travellcrs to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound onother Journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"
The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded.
"Let me hear another sound from you," said Scrooge, "and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation. You're quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go into Parliament."
"Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow."
Scrooge said that he would see him yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him 'in that extremity first.
"But why?" cried Scrooge's nephew. "Why
"Why did you get married?"
"Because I fell in love."
"Because you fell in love!" growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. "Good afternoon!"
"Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?"
"I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?"
"I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!"
Table of Contents
Charles Dickens: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
A Christmas Carol
Appendix A: Reflections on Christmas
- Washington Irving, from The Sketch Book (1822)
- Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Dinner” (1836)
- Charles Dickens, from The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club (1836-37)
- Thomas K. Hervey, from The Book of Christmas (1837)
- John Calcott Horsley / Sir Henry Cole, The First Christmas Card (1843)
- Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Tree” (1850)
- Charles Dickens, “What Christmas Is, As We Grow Older” (1851)
Appendix B: Child Labor, Education, and the Workhouse
- From Report of the Children’s Employment Commission (1842)
- From Charles Dickens’s Speech at the First Annual Soiree of the Athenaeum: Manchester (Oct. 5, 1843)
- Charles Dickens, “A Walk in a Workhouse” (1850)
Appendix C: From Letters of Charles Dickens
Appendix D: Contemporary Reviews of A Christmas Carol
- Charles Mackay, Morning Chronicle (December 19, 1843)
- Anon., Athenaeum (December 23, 1843)
- Thomas Hood, Hood’s Magazine, (January 4, 1844)
- Laman Blanchard, Ainsworth’s Magazine (January 1844)
- Anon., The Times (January 7, 1844)
- William Makepeace Thackeray, Fraser’s Magazine, (February 1844)
Appendix E: Notable Film, Television, and Radio Adaptations of A Christmas Carol
Works Cited and Recommended Reading
What People are Saying About This
“This Penguin Christmas Classics edition is so pretty it could double as a holiday centerpiece!” —People
“For lit nerds and loved ones who are notoriously hard to shop for, you can’t go wrong with these festively bound classics. . . . Their size makes them perfectly stocking-stuffable.” —Entertainment Weekly, “The Must List”
“Leave it to the folks at Penguin—who gave us Gothed-out editions of horror classics for Halloween—to package these . . . slim Yuletide-themed volumes.” —Newsday, “Best Books to Give as Holiday Gifts”
“Remember how Christmas was celebrated before Black Friday with these 19th-century authors, in small uniform volumes wrapped in pretty jackets.” —USA Today, “Holiday Gift Books So Pretty, No Need to Wrap”
“Beautifully designed.” —The Washington Post
"A sure-fire tear-jerker. At one public reading by Dickens in Boston, there were 'so many pocket handkerchiefs it looked as if a snowstorm had gotten into the hall.'" Sunday Express
"It has it all: a spooky ghost story, a heartwarming redemption, and a great plot with a satisfyingly ending." Times
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for An Atlas of Impossible Longing includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
In this reimagining of Charles Dickens’s classic, Great Expectations, Pip is an orphaned young werewolf living with his ill-tempered sister and her gentle husband, the blacksmith Joe Gargery. One fateful night, visiting his parents’ grave under the full moon, Pip encounters a frightening stranger—another werewolf and a convict no less. Too afraid to do anything other than obey the stranger’s instruction, Pip helps this convict and sets in motion of chain of events that will forever change the course of his life. Pip is sent to reside with Miss Havisham, a vampire who was sired and left on her wedding day by the one she loved. She has adopted Estella and raised her as a vampire slayer, to seek revenge on the supernatural creatures that she blames for her ruin. Pip, in awe of Estella’s beauty, falls instantly in love with her despite the fact that she has been trained to hate all “Scapegraces.” When an anonymous benefactor sends Pip to London to become a gentleman, he believes it is his chance to win Estella’s hand. The question that lies ahead is whether Pip will be able to overcome his wolfish ways and turn his once grave expectations for himself into great ones.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. In Pip’s world, the term “Scapegraces” is used to define “those of a supernatural sort” (p. 11). What do you think this term implies about the way that creatures like werewolves and vampires were viewed in this society?
2. On page 12, Pip wonders, “Was it a crime to merely be different?” While being a werewolf is simply a condition inherited at birth, vampires prey on the living to increase their population, and yet are “considered civilized and welcome to mix in society.” Is one creature more monstrous than the other? Do both werewolves and vampires have the capacity for good and evil?
3. After being invited to Miss Havisham’s and then later learning of his anonymous benefactor, Pip often feels ashamed of his roots, and of Joe’s commonness even more so than his own Scapegrace status. Yet Joe never seems to exhibit any embarrassment over Pip’s wolfishness. What does this say about each of their characters? What influences the focus of Pip’s shame?
4. When Mrs. Joe dies (the first time), Pip finds what he knows to be evidence of Magwitch’s crime, but he still does not accuse him. Why do you think Pip believes that Magwitch is innocent of this crime when the main piece of evidence points directly to him?
5. Throughout most of the story, Estella is cold-hearted and shows no affection for Pip despite his unwavering love for her. Why should he love someone who could possibly end up killing him in her crusade against Scapegraces? What makes him fall in love with her in the first place? Why do you think Pip continues to pursue someone who will never return his feelings?
6. Pip and Herbert have a very special friendship. Do you think this brotherly love grew out of the wolfish need to be part of a pack? Or something more human?
7. While Miss Havisham is herself a vampire, she has trained Estella in the ways of vampire slaying. Pip wonders “if Miss Havisham weren’t really wishing to be staked by Estella one day in raising her to such an art” (p. 235). Do you agree? Do you think Miss Havisham’s eventual outcome either supports or refutes this opinion? Why does Estella never stake her, if indeed her mission is to kill vampires?
8. Pip is horrified when he finds out the Magwitch has been his anonymous benefactor all along. Why do you think this revelation is so abhorrent to Pip, when he seems so willing to not only protect Magwitch and keep him safe, but to also protect his feelings by not revealing his disappointment?
9. On page 284, Pip explains to Miss Havisham that there are certain Scapegraces who “showed more humanity than the humans.” Discuss which of the Scapegraces behave with the utmost humanity, and which of the human characters exhibit what could be categorized as monstrous behavior?
10. How does the discovery of Estella’s parentage change things for Pip? Does it change your opinion of her?
11. Why is it so easy for Joe and Biddy to forgive Pip after he had neglected them for so many years? Should Joe have been angry that Pip spent so much time visiting Magwitch after he was captured, when he never kept up his visits to Joe like he had promised?
12. Though Estella is able to eventually see the goodness in werewolves, she never changes her opinion of vampires. Why do you think she can pardon and accept most Scapegraces and still seek vengeance against vampires?
ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB
1. Grave Expectations is a reimagining of Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations. Have you read Great Expectations before? If so, how did the supernatural version compare to the classic? What remained the same in this new version of the story? What changed? If not, choose Great Expectations for your next book club pick.
2. Grave Expectations is a literary mash-up—where a fictional classic is retold in present day or with mythical substitutions. Examples include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or the movie Clueless, which was essentially Jane Austen’s Emma set in Beverly Hills during the 1990s. Try creating a literary mash-up of your own with your book club. Pick a favorite classic and retell the story as though it took place in the present day or with some supernatural characters. The more imaginative, the better!
3. Legends of werewolves and vampires have been carried down through the centuries. How does their depiction in this work compare with your preconceived notions of such supernatural creatures?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a great christmas read for all ages. Im 16 and i loved it. There are some typos, but nothing that would make it difficult to understand. I definately would reccomened this book to a friend!
The character Ebeneezer Scrooge has to be one of Dicken's famous characters. In his novella, Dickens portrays a man disappointed with himself and who regards the world with contempt. I always thought of the visits by the three spirits as therapy. Modern pyschology hadn't evolved in the 1840s and somehow Scrooge's breakthrough comes through as a recovered patient. I read that Dickens was a contemporary of Karl Marx and as Marx advocated social change to improve the conditions prevalent during that time, Dickens believed that change could come about by social awareness. Laws could be legislated because society felt compassion. The two children Ignorance and Want, who are hidden under the cloak of the Spirit of Christmas Present were not intended only for plot of the story but as a reminder for Dickens' readers. Are not the 21st century readers still having to think of that boy and girl today? The media presents us news of children in refugee camps,starving children, and homeless families. We are confronted with the reality of want during this time of joy.
I have always loved this book and began a tradition of reading it to my children when they were young. The writing may not be the peak of Dickens's style but is still excellent. And the story never fails to move and entertain me. This year I read it on my new Nook -- and once again, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good, rousing and touching story and a well-written book.
I enjoyed this book! It was mysterious and funny! Great for all ages!
One of the best books ever.
This book is awesome! When my teacher read it to us for the hoiliday season! It was what I would say fantastic! I looooooovvvvvvvveeeeeeeeddddddd this book!
Its such a good book! What a tridition
This version was crafted with nook's screen in mind.
BEST BOOK EVER
Can anyone lend me this book for school? I don't haveh any money to buy it. Thanks!
Classic - Must have!
What is that about?
I first read Charles Dickens' version of "A Christmas Carol" in my 7th grade English class. The story remains as lyrical now as I first discovered then. I cannot imagine Christmas or literature without it. The tone is nearly perfect watching Ebenezer Scrooge transform from a cold, old miser into a human being desiring another chance to give back to the world.To fully appreciate the language, I recommend listening to it or reading the story aloud.
This is one of Dickens best stories, and is immortalised in A Muppet Christmas Carol, which I insist everyone watch every Christmas!
This was so much fun to read, especially after watching Mickey's A Christmas Carol so many times I know it by heart=) I'm sure everyone knows the story, so I"ll just say that its one of those books everyone should read, and everyone will love.
I've seen the movie countless times; in fact, I've seen countless versions of the book countless times. There's no denying it's a classic in Western Literature; perhaps one of the best-known stories in the English language.Not that anybody's ever read it.I hadn't, up until this year. But last spring I found it at the Borders Going-Out-Of-Business sale, and decided it was about time to hear it as Dickens intended.It's a difficult book to read, both because we're not used to reading Victorian English, and because it's impossible to avoid hearing the voices of Kermit the Frog and Michael Caine and George C. Scott. And yet, it's such a necessary book.It's become important to the pantheon of "necessary items for Christmas," along with "A Christmas Story" and The Carpenters and ugly sweaters. But even more so, I think it's necessary for our world today. It's a little unfortunate that it's become window dressing for the festive season, because the message is entirely prophetic, judgmental, and yet hopeful. It's a message we need once again.I don't need to rehearse the story or themes for you, but think about it for just a second - there's a message here about the proper place of money in relationships, there's a message of the importance of all people, whether they are rich or poor, there's a message about the voluntary redistribution of wealth; but it's all couched in a story of redemption. Yes, there is strong judgment against selfishness and greed (perhaps echoes of the Rich Man and Lazarus), but rather than simply condemn that man, Dickens paints a picture where even the worst can be redeemed and restored. That is a message sadly lacking in the 21st Century.It's interesting to read the story, as so many familiar lines pop off the page; at the same time, there are tender and poignant scenes that I have yet to see in the movie versions; young couples in love, ships' crews huddled in their cold cabin celebrating Christmas far out at sea. The Ghost of Christmas present even gets in a pretty direct shot at the church of Dickens' day.In the end, though, we're left with the familiar story of an angry, bitter, broken man who has all the money in the world but has lost all human connection, and the work of spirits to save him. Dickens reminds us that there is hope for even the worst of sinners, if repentance is found.The bonus of this book is the addition of two lesser-known Christmas tales penned by Dickens - The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth. The Chimes tells us of a broken-down man beset with terrible dreams while (accidentally) locked inside a church steeple; it's a mystic, visionary tale, lacking a bit of the clarity of A Christmas Carol. It's a cold story, and yet hopeful and redemptive. The Cricket on the Hearth is a warmer tale, with brighter characters and (in my opinion) a more interesting story. There's an old cartoon version of this one out there; I remember seeing it some years ago. Like Carol, it can be a little difficult to follow simply due to the Victorian English vernacular, but it's a fun story full of lame dogs and old horses and mysterious strangers and inept babysitters and blind saints and grumpy old men. And yes, in keeping with the others, it brings a surprise redemptive end, complete with a homespun party.So Borders, I'm sorry you went out of business. But your sale finally convinced me to pick this one up, and for that I'm grateful.
I've read this a couple of times. Dickens was paid by the word & writes like it. He spends way too much time digressing into idiotic areas & filling up space. Example: "Marley was dead, dead as a door nail, although why a door nail should be deader than a coffin nail..." or something like that & goes on about it forever. Never does come to a conclusion - the proper one being a door nail is dead because it was hammered through the door & clinched on the opposite side, hence is dead. Coffin nails are hammered straight in, hence can move with the wood. His stories are classics, but I detest his writing style. Probably worth reading once.
When I read Dickens, I'm continually tempted to read bits and pieces aloud to Chris. Dickens has such a beautiful writing style, it practically begs to be read out loud. Beautiful story. I hope to make this a new tradition in my life and read it every year.
Illustrations by Everett Shinn are a bit weird; his Scrooge looks like an evil elf.
Some tales are meant to read aloud, and never is this statement truer than when it is applied to "A Christmas Carol." One would be hard pressed to find anyone would does not like this perennial story, and we all have our special favorites, be they illustrated texts or even movies. But everyone should add this audio version to his or her collection. Award-winning Jim Dale renders a masterful performance in this unabridged version which can be enjoyed at any time of the year.
This book is very good.And it is very timely.
The ChimesThe Haunted ManThe Cricket on the HearthThe Battle of LifeA Christmas CarolI read this collection of stories 3 years ago for a Book Club and we all agreed that none of the other stories is a patch on "A Christmas Carol".I did enjoy "The Cricket on the Hearth", a suspenseful story of possible infidelity, and "The Chimes", which was written a year after "A Christmas Carol" and has a similar story, with Trotty who has supposedly fallen to his death from the church bell tower is shown three future New Years by the spirits of the chimes and the ghost of a young girl who dies in one of those future visions.The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain is the third story in this book in which various types of spirit show the protagonist the error of his ways.And a final piece of advice - Don't start by reading "The Battle of Life" like I did, as it's possibly the most annoying story I have ever read!
Christmas BooksOnly A Christmas Carol is worth re- reading from this collection. 4/5A Christmas CarolAs timeless a classic as ever at Christmas. The ultimate secular story about redemption.The ChimesThis had some interesting things to say about class divisions in mid-19th century England, but delivered without the author's usual charm and warmth. This was very bleak until the last two pages. Worse than that, though, it was confusing. It also isn't a Christmas story, though it is a new year's eve one.The Cricket on the HearthCouldn't get into this. Interesting portrayal of a blind character, but overall too dull and I gave up on it.
If only I had been there to offer advice Charles Dickens could have been a truly great author. This read as part of the reading group, where it produced the best discussion for some time. Charles Dickens combined an incredible talent for characterisation with the self indulgence that can marr a rich and popular author. If only a writing group had been there to repeat the basic mantras ¿show not tell¿ and so on.