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Dickens in the FMI

Well it was Christmas at Easter for me. Seeking to review some of Footscray Mechanics Institute (FMI) library fine collection of Rare and Unusual books I found that the edition of Dickens from 1910 which is in our Stacks was too big for a comfortable read in recline. So instead of "Pickwick Papers", I got hold of a copy of " A Christmas Carol" in Penguin edition. This was good in some ways as there are notes which explain the use of idiom which is obviously dated. The novella is supposed to have popularised Xmas and the forms of its celebration for generations.


The story starts with Scrooge, its main character,  returning from his business premise with a fever. He then experience some strange ghostly phenomena. He is visited by apparitions which take him back to his past and on to his future. Scrooge a miserly moneylending type is transformed by this series of experiences.  He awakes rejuvenated and makes amends for his curmudgeonly behaviour toward family and employees.

I see the book as a Christian morality tale. Some sections have Dickens at his long rambling sentence best. Dickens is rated as one of English writing best proponents. Some expressions in the book are now even today common parlance. “Bah Humbug” is one of my favourites. This is especially when Christmas now goes from Raceday onwards-- months of consumerism! Other expressions such as” What the Dickens!” are of use in daily speech as alternative to cruder expressions.


One advantage of reading the original editions held at the FMI library are the illustrations. The books were usually published as series I magazines not as novels intially. The plates by cartoonists such as Phiz, a nom de plume,  who illustrates 10 of Dickens novels are a real joy to behold.


The works of Dickens are out of copyright but have never been out of print! This for 170 years. Remarkable! I first read the stories in child versions at my Grandfather's house.

s house some 60 years ago. NF

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