Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Christmas Carol: The Holliday's most famous horror tale

Greetings and Merry Christmas to all. What on a day such as auspicious as this you should wind up in my company is a puzzling and sad thought. But as you're here have a mug of mulled cider and come sit by the fire a while.

Christmas is a time of joy and happiness, it marks the birth of a savior, a time of giving and joy, the magic of a gracious and wondrous soul in a red coat and reindeer, or perhaps a time of death and rebirth at the marking of the winter solstice,(which was another post I missed incidentally, well such is the season now more hustle than bustle). But it has much rooted history with the horrors and trepidations that come with the long dark nights, thus the Krampus and it's other namesakes, the Belsnickel, and other aspects of pagan beliefs. But perhaps the best known horror tale of the holidays is Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The tale has become such common holiday fare nowadays that it has become like most of the holiday traditions we celebrate today it seems, a shell of it's former self.
"MARLEY WAS DEAD" what a lovely way to introduce us to this gleeful holiday tale. But this book does not present us with heavenly angels, or merry elves, but true spirits, not present to pass on joy and good will, but to terrify and torment Ebeneezer Scrooge into repentance. And of grisly ghosts of the dead, tormented themselves for an eternity of which one can really only relate as a hellish existence. The Spirits themselves are all both horrible and wonderful in description, as the first spirit: It was a strange figure -like a child:yet not lo like a child as an old man viewed through some supernatural medium...the figure itself fluctuated in distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now a thing with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be itself visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away..."

And such with the second spirit wondrous and splendid but beneath it's fine robes it houses two horrible figures: "It might be a claw, for the Flesh there is upon it," was the spirit's sorrowful reply... From the folding s of it robe, ti brought two children; wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable...Yellow, meagre, ragged, scowling, wolfish. Where graceful should have filled their features out, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, pinched and twisted and pulled them into shreds.. Where angels might have sat enthroned devils lurked; and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation has monsters half so horrible and dread."

And the third thusly simple in description: "It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But from this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was enshrouded..."

These grim specters do not come to encourage Scrooge with hope, love and joy. No they bring remorse, dread and fear. The present him with moments in which Ebeneezer briefly looses himself in the gaiety of others, only to have the door slammed on the illusion with his own miserable existence. Dickens does not Speak of Christ's Love, the approaching rebirth of the spring, or the joys we have become accustomed to this time of year, his tale is of bleak and inward despair and horror with a fitting cast of phantoms. I encourage you my fellow travelers of these macabre shores, that if the time and opportunity befall you this Holiday season find a copy of Dickens' tale as he had written it. Settle in to a large chair in a darkened corner by light of tree and candle and read the greatest ghost story of the season in a less conventional perspective.

All my best to you this Christmas season, and happy solstice to my pagan friends.
G. Macabre


Julie Schuler said...

I had just picked this up yesterday and read "Marley was dead." What a wonderful, gorgeous start of a tale. I had previously lamented that I didn't know of a good version to which I could introduce my five year old. I remember having a read-a-long record that was ghastly with moans and rattling chains. I remember covering my ears and taking the needle off of the record when it got too scary.

Gary D Macabre said...

Oh how wonderful, the only way beter to enjoy the tail as is was written than reading it for yourself and trying to get past the subconscious influences of the modern interpretations is to be exposed to it the first time from someone reading it to you in its correct context.

Merry Christmas Julie

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