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Dickens: A Christmas Carol

1. Story Telling

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the idea of storytelling in A Christmas Carol, focusing in particular on: (i) the length of the novel (or novella?) and how long it takes to read, and why this is important; (ii) the 'character' of the narrator in the novel, and his (or her?) informal, conversational style ("I mean to say", "I tell you", "I say", etc.); (iii) the idea of Dickens' bringing dead language back to life in the same way as dead people are brought back to life in his narrative ("Marley was dead: to begin with"); and (iv) the idea that Dickens wrote to be read out loud, and the reports of his own performances of the text in the mid-19th century ("The two thousand and odd people were like one, and their enthusiasm was something awful").


In this course, Professor John Mullan (University College, London) explores Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. In the first module, we think about the idea storytelling in the novel, focusing in particular on the 'character' of the narrator and the idea that A Christmas Carol was a designed as a novel to be read in a single sitting. After that, in the second module, we think about ghosts in A Christmas Carol and in Victorian literature and society more generally, before turning in the third module to the use of comedy in the novel. In the fourth module, we focus on the character of Ebenezer Scrooge himself, before turning in the fifth and final module to consider the idea of 'fancy' in the novel.


Professor John Mullan holds the Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature at University College, London. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, currently writing the 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. Most recently he is the author of How Novels Work (2006), Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (2008) and What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012). A broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, he writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.

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Cite this Lecture

APA style

Mullan, J. (2021, March 08). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - Story Telling [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Mullan, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – Story Telling." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 08 Mar 2021,