Score one for computers and handwritten novels! The New York Times has a piece today in the "Documents" section about the manuscript of Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. It seems that there is only one (!) copy of the original in existence and it has been kept under lock and key for decades by the anti-fun fairies, or the Morgan Library and Museum, whatever...
Charles Dickens left behind one, and only one, manuscript for "A Christmas Carol,'' the tale he wrote in 1843 of an unfeeling rich man and the boy who pricked his conscience. Kept under lock-and-key for much of the year at the Morgan Library and Museum, the manuscript is not widely available, one reason, perhaps, why it has been all but impossible to track the many revisions Dickens made to the manuscript as he struggled to get his story right.
In the article, the Times has given us readers a hi-res scan of each of the pages so you can see Chuck's crazy penmanship (maybe score another one for computers?) as well as all the edits he made to the book as he went along telling the story of Scrooge and Tiny Tim. But wait, there's more! The Times also went so far as provide a typewritten transcript so we can view everything side by side with the handwriting as well as a series of annotations about certain edits which really bring the writing of the short novel to life as well as providing eye-opening insights into the creative process Dickens brought to bear on the book.
Not convinced? Check it:
Thinking Twice about Taking on Hamlet: Dickens seemed to think better of the extended jabs he initially took here at Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet. Michael Slater, a leading Dickens expert, said Dickens may have concluded that "it was too much of a digression" or a bad idea to be "making too much fun of Shakespeare.'' The sentences that were struck read as follows: Perhaps you think that Hamlet's intellects were strong. I doubt it. If you could have such a son tomorrow, depend upon it, you would find him a poser. He would be a most impracticable fellow to deal with, and however creditable he might be to the family, after his decease, he would prove a special incumbrance in his lifetime, trust me.''See? Totally cool. Anyway, the entire thing is a real triumph of the old media (such as the grey lady) taking the rein provided by new media opportunities and technology and making a real treat for us at the start of the holidays.
If you want to read the whole article blah blah blah, you can find it here. If you'd just like to play around with the manuscript, you can find that baby right here. Enjoy!
Tomorrow, in celebration of Christmas, I will be posting something I wrote when I was 12 and recently found floating around on the internets. Suffice it to say that it is "The Night Before Christmas" as read by Holden Caulfield. For realsies...