“I put a New Testament among your books, for the very same reasons, and with the very same hopes that made me write an easy account of it for you, when you were a little child. Because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world, and because it teaches you the best lessons by which any human creature who tries to be truthful and faithful to duty can possible be guided.”

Charles Dickens wrote this in a personal letter to one of his sons at the time his son went away to school. In the autumn of 2012, I read this letter in a book published in 1890 by Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York. The volume is titled “A Collection of Letters of Dickens” and is on the shelf at the Portage Public Library.

This collection of letters provided meaningful insight into the life of this remarkable author who had such great literary talent. Of course, some of his letters mentioned the unexpected popularity of his story, “A Christmas Carol.” To this day, Dickens’ classic story has been enjoyed in many forms: public readings, plays, musicals, television shows, movies, as well as print.

My first recollected awareness of the story is in watching the television cartoon adaptation, “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol.” (Do you remember the Mr. Magoo cartoons? Near-sighted Quincy Magoo, his cat, his mother, his houseboy, Cholly?)

I’ve re-read “A Christmas Carol” twice this winter. The original, printed story of Ebenezer Scrooge tops any of the other productions, and is available at the Portage Library, in the book, Charles Dickens’ Complete Works Christmas Books; or Charles Dickens’ Works Christmas Stories. Reprinted Pieces.

Charles Dickens is a favorite author of mine. The richness of his prose is enchanting and I find the old English vocabulary of his time fascinating. (For instance, he divided “A Christmas Carol” into staves, not chapters: “Stave One – Marley’s Ghost” through “Stave Five – The end of it.”) My dictionary is nearby when I am reading.

I have added a biography of Charles Dickens to my intentional reading list and also hope to read again the collection of his personal letters.

Sarah Mautz is a member of the Pauquette Wordcrafters.

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