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3. What kind of book is A Christmas Carol?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about what kind of book A Christmas carol is: a parable? a fable? a fairy-tale? In particular, we think about its status as a Christmas story, the use of questions in the novel, the vividness and presence of the narrator, the ghostliness of the novel and its characters, and the novel's comedy.
In this course, Professor John Bowen (University of York) explores Charles Dickens' 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol. The course begins with a general introduction to the book, which shows that it is funnier, wilder and much stranger than the many adaptations of the novel would have us believe. After that, in the second module, we think about the use of the time in the novel, focusing in particular on the timing of the novel ('Once upon a time… on Christmas eve') and the ability for Scrooge to travel through time to confront his past, present and future. In the third module, we think about what kind of book A Christmas Carol is – a fable? a fairy-tale? A Christian parable? – before turning in the fourth module to the figure of Scrooge himself – a contemporary figure, a comic figure at times – but why is he so hostile to family? In the fifth module, we think about sight and sound in the novel, about what is seen and not seen, and about what is heard and not heard.
John Bowen is Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of York. His main research areas are in nineteenth- and twentieth-century fiction, in particular the works of Charles Dickens and other major Victorian novelists including the Brontes, Wilkie Collins and Anthony Trollope, but he has also written on modern poetry and fiction: he has a particular interest in mid-twentieth century novelists such as Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell and George Orwell.
Professor Bowen is the author of Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit (Oxford University Press, 2000, 2003) and has edited Dickens's Barnaby Rudge for Penguin; Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Towers (2014) and Phineas Redux (2011) for Oxford World’s Classics; and Palgrave Advances in Charles Dickens Studies with Robert L. Patten. He is the author of more than fifty academic articles and book chapters, including contributions to the Oxford History of the Novel in English, Oxford Reader’s Companion to Dickens, the Cambridge Companion to Wilkie Collins, Cambridge Companion to European Novelists and the Cambridge History of English Literature. He has worked closely with many leading cultural organisations, including the British Library, BBC, V&A, RSC and Museum of London, and was academic advisor to the Museum of London Dickens bicentenary exhibition 2012 and to the Royal Shakespeare Company for David Edgar’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol 2017-18.
A former President of the Dickens Society and Co-Director of the University of California Dickens Project, Professor Bowen s the current President of the Dickens Fellowship 2017-19 and a Fellow of the English Association (FEA). He is a member of the Advisory Boards of the British Library ‘Discovering Literature’ website and of the Oxford Clarendon Dickens; has given many keynote addresses and public lectures around the world; has frequently reviewed for the Times Literary Supplement; and has contributed to a number of television documentaries and radio programmes, including BBC Radio 4's Front Row, Open Book, Beyond Belief, PM, Today and Woman's Hour, Channel 4’s Dickens’s Secret Lover and BBC2’s Being the Brontes (2016). He is currently writing Reading Dickens for Cambridge University Press and editing Dickens’s Bleak House for Norton and George Orwell's 1984 for Oxford World's Classics.
Cite this Lecture
Bowen, J. (2018, August 15). Dickens: A Christmas Carol - What kind of book is A Christmas Carol? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol/what-kind-of-book-is-a-christmas-carol
Bowen, J. "Dickens: A Christmas Carol – What kind of book is A Christmas Carol?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018, https://www.massolit.io/courses/dickens-a-christmas-carol/what-kind-of-book-is-a-christmas-carol