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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide
Special Report

On Stage with Charles Dickens

Levenger Press, the publishing arm of a company that sells products geared towards readers and writers, was eager to give others the opportunity to read A Christmas Carol the way Dickens had read it to so many enchanted audiences. The Levenger imprint has also published facsimiles of Winston Churchill’s first and final drafts of his “Finest Hour” speech, as well as facsimiles of documents related to John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. Having worked so arduously on the Dickens project, Harrison said, “I read the story so many times as this work was in progress, I gained a new appreciation for just how nuanced a writer he was.”

Gewirtz agreed, “His characters are so vividly alive and put through experiences that bring out the full variety of their richness.” Particularly Scrooge, he said, who “though he has a nasty temperament and though his ideas about poor relief are abhorrent, I like his sarcastic wit and sense of irony.”

“I only heard him read once,” Twain wrote. “It was in New York, last week. I had a seat about the middle of Steinway Hall, and that was rather further away from the speaker than was pleasant or profitable.” Thousands heard Charles Dickens perform A Christmas Carol, and, unlike Twain, thousands found it pleasant to hear the fabled man of letters read from what would become his most famous work. Thousands were moved to tears, like Dickens was when he wrote it. Thousands laughed. Thousands caught the Christmas spirit and were thus prompted to give of themselves to their fellow man. Mr. Fairbanks gave turkeys. As David Perdue notes on his website, charlesdickenspage.com, “Charles Dickens has probably had more influence on the way we celebrate Christmas today than any single individual in human history except one.”

Indeed, the spirit of Dickens’ Christmas appears most everywhere during the holiday season. Dickens wrote in A Christmas Carol, “'It is required of every man … that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide.”

Through space and time, Charles Dickens’ novella and his depiction of a merry Christmas, have traveled far and wide.

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Jonathan Shipley, a past contributor to Fine Books, lives on Vashon Island near Seattle, Washington. He works for a theater program publisher and has written for such varied publications as Distinctly Northwest, Swindle, and Welding & Cutting.