A Christmas Carol, The Chimes & The Cricket on the Hearth (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

A Christmas Carol, The Chimes & The Cricket on the Hearth (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)


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A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth, by Charles Dickens, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Generations of readers have been enchanted by Dickens’s A Christmas Carol—the most cheerful ghost story ever written, and the unforgettable tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s moral regeneration. Written in just a few weeks, A Christmas Carol famously recounts the plight of Bob Cratchit, whose family finds joy even in poverty, and the transformation of his miserly boss Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

From Scrooge’s “Bah!” and “Humbug!” to Tiny Tim’s “God bless us every one!” A Christmas Carol shines with warmth, decency, kindness, humility, and the value of the holidays. But beneath its sentimental surface, A Christmas Carol offers another of Dickens’s sharply critical portraits of a brutal society, and an inspiring celebration of the possibility of spiritual, psychological, and social change.

This new volume collects Dickens’s three most renowned “Christmas Books,” including The Chimes, a New Year’s tale, and The Cricket on the Hearth, whose eponymous creature remains silent during sorrow and chirps amid happiness.

Katharine Kroeber Wiley, the daughter of a scholar and a sculptor, has a degree in English Literature from Occidental College. Her work has appeared in Boundary Two and the recent book, Lore of the Dolphin. She is currently working on a book on Victorian Christmas writings.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781593080334
Publisher: Barnes & Noble
Publication date: 04/01/2004
Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 21,062
Product dimensions: 5.18(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) is probably the greatest novelist England has ever produced, the author of such well-known classics as A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist. His innate comic genius and shrewd depictions of Victorian life — along with his indelible characters — have made his books beloved by readers the world over.

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


Home-schooling; attended Dame School at Chatham briefly and Wellington

Read an Excerpt

From Katherine Kroeber Wiley's Introduction to A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and The Cricket on the Hearth

"Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that." Thus begins Dickens's most famous and yet poorly understood work. It does not start with a description of Scrooge as a miser, but with death. All of Dickens's Christmas books revolve around death. Americans and Europeans of the twenty-first century are fairly sheltered from death—it seldom happens in our homes, for instance; we can bring people back from the brink of death in ways inconceivable to Victorians; we have powerful drugs to ease the pain of, say, cancer, and so forth. In Dickens's day, one could die from an infected cut; today we simply slap on some antibiotic ointment and feel confident we'll be all right. Death was very present and very haunting to the Victorians. Children and women were particularly vulnerable; we may find some of the sentiment over Tiny Tim cloying, but through him Dickens strove to present the special poignancy of the deaths of children.

Having started with Marley's death, and Scrooge's full knowledge and experience of it, Dickens goes on to say that Scrooge never painted over Marley's name on the warehouse door: "Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It was all the same to him." Dickens then presents Scrooge's miserliness, but he first presents Scrooge as so far astray he no longer even possesses a true sense of self. Scrooge is not a person, even to himself, but a business. It is that lack of self that leads to his miserliness and his alienation from humanity.

The theme of blindness or deliberate obtuseness, important in The Cricket on the Hearth and The Chimes, appears quite early in A Christmas Carol. Scrooge's nephew, in bursting in upon him, precipitates Scrooge's well-known contemptuous remarks upon Christmas. Upon the nephew's departure two "portly gentlemen" approach; they are setting up a fund to "buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth." Scrooge inquires of them as to the state of the prisons, workhouses, the treadmill, and the Poor Law. Prisons and workhouses alike were dreadful places, dank and dark, in which families could not live together but were divided up by gender and age. The treadmills, invented in 1818 originally were actual engines, designed to power mills that ground corn and the like; various laws dealing with the poor established the presence of treadmills in the workhouses. By Dickens's time, however, the treadmills were merely objects in which the poor could be simultaneously contained and worked into exhaustion; no product resulted but the further degradation of the workers. The Poor Law of 1834 divided the poor into the "deserving" and the "undeserving." The "help" provided to the deserving was scant indeed, more theory than fact, and it was almost impossible to prove one was deserving. The decision truly rested with people who sat on the boards of directors of workhouses or other persons living in comfort that was derived from profits expanded, in part, by paying out only very little to help those in need. Whatever its intention, the Poor Law provided a mere facade of welfare; in fact, it was a series of impossible obstacles.

The portly gentlemen point out to Scrooge that prisons and workhouses "scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body"—Dickens presumes that Christianity declares that all people are entitled to cheer of mind, not merely a life of subsistence-and that "many can't go there; and many would rather die."

"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don't know that."

"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

"It's not my business," Scrooge returned.

There it is, that claim to ignorance—only in this instance the illusion is punctured straight away by the two gentlemen who have made it their business to look about them and perceive the suffering of the world. Scrooge can only not know it by deliberate intent.

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Christmas Carol, The Chimes & The Cricket on the Hearth (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 194 reviews.
TFWilliams More than 1 year ago
I downloaded this title to my Nook. It started off just fine but about 8 pages into A Christmas Carol there's an error and it seems like quite a few pages are missing. It was very confusing until I figured out that some pages were skipped, then it was just disappointing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Who could possibly think this book is bad?! Someone who doesn't like to read more than five-letter words, obviously. For you 'avid readers' who read more than smut, this classic book is a gem. Beautiful story, BEAUTIFULLY written. Worth much more than cliffnotes. Cliffnotes are the coward's way out of thinking.
Nazire More than 1 year ago
This is a great collection. I love many of Charles Dickens' works and this is quite heavenly, I must admit. I am not fond of Dickens' sexists attitudes and his ideal of femininity in a blonde, blue eyed, fair skinned, naive young woman who is always struggling and sacrificing her life for those around her; whether it be father, husband and or lover or children. Dickens believes that women must devote their entire lives and personalities to their families and families only. That is the only saving merit of women according to Dickens. However, Dickens writes beautifully. It's difficult and requires a refined taste in literature to appreciate Dickens' work. Dickens wrote in another time where grammar, syntax and diction of his characters varied greatly. The idea of novel itself was new and later in his life began to settle down. His morals, themes, flaws and characters closely follow the values held in Victorian era by all and the fall backs along with the negatives in that era are clearly demonstrated in numerous ways. Therefore many of the qualities that makes Dickens' work a classic makes it a difficult read for those in the 21st Century. However, Dickens is one of the fathers of the novel and his work must be closely read and attention must be paid into the details he provides within his stories. Dickens plots are layered upon layers and each character serves a purpose. Sometimes at the moment we might think what he is trying to do with a particular character, though later each proves that they had a significant role in furthering the plot and creating foils for the other characters. His plots are always filled with twists and ends usually in happiness for the persevering character, rewarded for his or her sacrifices after much toiling and difficulties. He always states the moral of the story, although not directly, leaving the reader with dramatic satisfaction and the aftermath of the climax is always explained, which usually leaves little room for questions in regards to plot. This particular set is great around the holidays as it spreads holiday cheer like the flu. Descriptions, and other elements of fiction are cleverly used and the dialogue is one that especially delightful. This is a highly recommended book.
Emilydmo More than 1 year ago
I'll start this review by stating that I am NOT a Charles Dickens fan. I've tried several times and several stories to get into his work, and just haven't been able to enjoy his stories enough to finish even a single novel. Until I picked up A Christmas Carol right before Christmas. Even though I know every aspect of the story from movies and plays, I still couldn't put this short story down. It is superbly written and very clever. An extremely enjoyable and quick read. I have half a mind to make this a Christmas tradition and read it every year!
songcatchers More than 1 year ago
Rating: 4.5

A Christmas Carol is a wonderful ghost story that perfectly captures the spirit of Christmas. It's a fun read. I just loved watching that old humbug Scrooge squirming in his bedclothes as the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet To Come enlighten him.

I thought The Chimes was pretty decent. It's another ghost story. Trotty has become disillusioned with society and specifically with the upper crust and he says of the poor, "There is no good in us. We are born bad!" This story has a very tragic ending that came as a surprise to me. Definitely worth a read.

The Cricket on the Hearth is a story about love and faithfulness. It was a little slow but good. It had a very happy ending to ring in the New Year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy this book. Since the whole book had three smaller books inside it, i read in sequenitial order. A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, and Finally, i didnt finish A Cricket on the Hearth. A Christmas carol was good. The chimes was very confusing, and the cricket on the hearth was confusing also.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read A CHRISTMAS CAROL every year at Christmas. How can anyone rate it to be horrible?? Is it because we have become a society of, ' if it's not a video, it's not worth the time??' Anyway, anyone who is truly a reader and does want to be challenged, this book is worth 5 stars for an excellent story. I have read parts of the other stories, in this book,and A CHRISTMAS CAROL far outshines them, if you get the premise of the story, or want to. It is outstanding!!! I did a party/evening all based on this story,and no one complained, or felt it was a horrible story, by any means. Don't waste your time on any book if you can't handle being challenged,and entertained by truly reading something with depth. But if you are a 'true reader', as all people should be, you will not be disappointed by A CHRISTMAS CAROL. It's a wonderful Christmas story for those that have the 'creative mind, not to be bored'. You can be bored with anything if you want to be. A CHRISTMAS CAROL is not a boring story. Far from it!!
bookseller525 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Who doesn't love A Christmas Carol, and the idea that even old Scrooge can be redeemed?
1morechapter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is just for Cricket on the Hearth.Dickens¿ Cricket on the Hearth was his third published Christmas book, after A Christmas Carol and The Chimes, and it outsold them both.John the Carrier and his wife Dot are a couple with a new baby. Included in their home is a cricket on the hearth, who might turn out to be more than just a cricket. They are a happy couple until a misunderstanding arises, but of course, all is well in the end. Other characters include a toymaker and his blind daughter; the toymaker¿s boss, Tackleton, who is a Scrooge-like character; and a young girl May (who is supposed to marry Tackleton) and her mother.The book was quite humorous at times and heartwarming. Although I appreciated this novella at the end, I had a hard time getting into this book at first. In fact, whenever I tried reading it, I would fall asleep. That might have something more to do with me than the story, though. Ordinarily I love classics. The book I read the story in also includes A Christmas Carol and The Chimes, so hopefully I¿ll get to read those two titles next year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The introduction by Katherine Kroeber Wiley is one of the best discussions of A Christmas Carol that I've ever read. She takes the fascinating position that the novella has nothing to do with money and defends it admirably. Her notes on the text are insightful and sometimes exhibit a dry wit in addition to being useful. My favorite of the three stories will always be "A Christmas Carol." While many of us have grown up watching the story on film there is nothing quite like reading the original text. Everyone should do it at least once in a lifetime, but once every year is an even better idea! I had never read "The Chimes" before. It is definitely written to be read aloud. The words of the text chime as surely as the bells in the tower. I've never read anything from Dickens quite like it. I found "The Cricket on the Hearth" to be far less accessible than the other two stories. I found myself waiting for the supernatural element to show up, though when it did it was neither what nor how I expected it to be. The study materials at the back are thought provoking. I found myself wishing that I had a discussion group to explore them with. All in all, quite the excellent edition of Dickens's works and a superb addition to anyone's collection of British Literature.
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Even if you have seen the movie adaptations of A Christmas Carol many times, I highly recommend reading the story. The two other stories in this collection are nice additions with Cricket on the Hearth being the better of the two.
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I forgot to fo next on mary poppins
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For modern readers, who may find Dickens’ monumental masterpieces – Bleak House and Great Expectations – difficult to digest, these three short novels (the best of the five Christmas stories) may be more accessible.  Although the moralistic and melodramatic plots, the stock characters, and the heavy sentimentality in these stories may not resonate with 21st Century readers, they do serve to remind us of the needs of an early Victorian mass audience which, lacking the palliatives of movies or TV, read such stories aloud for entertainment and pleasure.  To fault them on the superficial basis of modern expectations is to ignore the considerable artistry and craftsmanship Dickens lavished on them.  Modern writers in particular would also do well to observe the skill with which the author weaves his fantasy in each tale, to create a unique and coherent artistic world.  There is no living writer who, if given a summary of the characters and plot of these stories, could replicate their singular charm and literary effect.  That artistic vision belongs uniquely to Dickens; it is a treasure well worth our preservation and study.  Finally, these stories were intended for and read by Victorian children.  That modern children struggle mightily to read them, one hundred and fifty years later, is a sad and  unintended commentary on the devolution of contemporary education. 
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