The perpetual charm and allure of A Christmas Carol ($20) by Charles Dickens is indisputable. The book was first published in 1843; it was a resounding hit both in England and the United States. Not only was it popular, it was also a phenomenal cultural influence. Many credit this secular Christmas tale with reviving the waning holiday spirit Dickens feared was being lost to Industrialism and modernity. Film versions of the book abound, with a new one coming out almost every year. We all know the story and most of us have a favorite Ebenezer Scrooge we like to get reacquainted with during the holidays (Bill Murray in Scrooged, anyone...anyone?). The original text is darker, bolder, and well worth the read. Not for nothing was Dickens the most popular author of his day, he writes with a singular beauty and strength that will pull you back into the often cruel and always sooty streets of Victorian England. *Editor's Note: Many versions of the book are abridged and watered down. This version includes the full text and some of the original illustrations by John Leech .
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