Tag Archives: charles dickens

Top Ten Quotes from Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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#10 – “I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be.”

#9 – “Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before-more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle.”

#8 – “We need never be ashamed of our tears.”

#7 – “Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”

#6 – “Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since – on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to displace with your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!”

#5 – “The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I love her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.”

#4 – “I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.”

#3 – “That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”

#2 – “I looked at the stars, and considered how awful it would be for a man to turn his face up to them as he froze to death, and see no help or pity in all the glittering multitude.”

#1 – “You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since-on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with.”

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 003 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens – Stave 3 – The Second of the Three Spirits – Analysis and Discussion Questions

vintage-1705170_1280Scrooge’s reckoning with his crusty ways continues, though his ghostly visitor is more pleasant this time.  The Ghost of Christmas Present is a big ass baller, a giant of a man, full of food and drink, joviality and laughter, tooling around in a fine robe with a wreath on his head, hardly a care in the world.

Yes, the present is the best time to be in.  The past is unchangeable and thus to think of it can lead to regret.  The future is unknown.  The only time we can be effective in is now…right now…before right now becomes the past…oh no, now just became the past, oh no it happened again, but wait the next moment is in the future, it’s in the present and oh, crap, it’s in the past again.

See how quickly life moves?

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

#1 – The Ghost of Christmas Present states that all sorts of things happen “in his name” i.e. hatred, bigotry and so on but urges Scrooge to charge these wrongdoings to those who would perpetrate them, not the ghost.  What does the ghost mean by this?

#2 – Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present visit the Cratchitts and see how happy this poor, not very handsome family is, despite the fact that they all live lives of hard labor, meager wages and little ability to improve their situation.  Scrooge is then taken on a tour where he finds miners, light house keepers and others working dismal jobs in the worst locales are all having a grand time.  Scrooge has fat stacks of cash yet he is miserable, whereas there are so many carefree poor people.  What gives?  What is the message Dickens is trying to tell us?

#3 – Tiny Tim is the epitome of man’s ability to change the future by acting in the present…before an ill fate becomes written into the past.  Scrooge must act now in the present to help Tiny Tim, to provide the family with the money needed to get Tim extra care, medicine, and help.  If Scrooge does not act now, Tiny Tim will die, and all that will remain is a memorialized little crutch in the corner of his family’s home.

Are there any warning signs in your life of a dismal future if swift, decisive action is not taken now?  Consider what negative fates might befall you or those you love if a negative situation is not change.  Do you foresee a way in which change is possible?  What steps will you take to make positive change happen?

#4 – The Ghost of Christmas Present reveals that two “children” have been clinging to him all this time – “Ignorance” and “Want.”  These two children or rather, states, mess up the present something awful.  When people are ignorant, i.e., stupid they make bad decisions that lead to a destroyed future.  Often, bad decisions are made in the name of “want,” i.e. people who covet material possessions over positive life experiences.

What will you do to rid your life of ignorance and want?

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 002 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens – Stave 2 – “The First of the Three Spirits”

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Dang, 3.5 listeners.  Old Scrooge is going through some serious shit.

In Stave 2, the Ghost of Christmas Past visits our favorite crusty old prick.  Scrooge is tortured to see how happy he used to be, how much hope and promise his life once held, and how he lost sight of that happiness in pursuit of the almighty dollar.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

#1 – The Ghost of Christmas Past is an odd looking mannish sort of creature, with flames glowing out of his head.  He carries a hat that looks like a candle snuffer, a little piece of metal that in the olden days, people would put over a candle to put the light out.

Is the past like a candle?  Intangible – you can’t really hold it without experiencing the physical pain of the flame.  Similarly, thinking about the past can bring about some good.  There are beautiful moments that shine like a candle flame.  However, there are sad moments, regrets, things we wish we had done differently.  If we reach out and try to make those memories real in our minds, we are burned, just as if we touch the candle.  The past cannot be changed and yet we often wish it could be, because we grow older, we realize how all the mistakes we made add up and how if we had just made different choices, our lives would have turned out better.

Are there any choices you currently face that might have an impact on your future?  Think as yourself as Scrooge in the future, observing your actions right now with the help of the Ghost of Christmas Past.  Would your future self have any advice to give? What would it be?

#2 – Fezziwig was Scrooge’s former boss.  This is a case where Dickens exceeds at “show, don’t tell.”  In Stave 1, we received a rather dour discussion of Scrooge’s counting – house.  Ice cold, grim, Scrooge working on business until the very last second of the day, excoriating his clerk for the slightest error.

Was such heavy handedness necessary?  After all, we learn that Scrooge’s old boss, when Scrooge was a young man, was Fezziwig.  Fezziwig too was rich, yet he managed to get his business done and still find time to play.  In modern parlance, “Fezziwig worked hard and played hard.”

Whereas Old Scrooge cursed his clerk for wanting Christmas off, Fezziwig bars the doors of his office, has everything moved to create a dance floor, and brings in fiddlers and dancers and food and fun, inviting Scrooge and other employees to quit work early and dance the night away.

Is Dickens trying to teach us about having a balanced life?  Is it possible to work hard and play hard and be successful at both, or must one give way to the other?

#3 – Scrooge was once engaged.  Alas, his fiancee grows weary over the fact that Scrooge spends more time chasing money than he does doting upon her.  This seems to be an issue in relationships.  Couples often fight over money, which means one spouse must work more to obtain it, but then they often fight over quality time, which means a spouse must work less to gain it.

How can couples work together to achieve a balanced relationship, one where there’s enough money and enough time to be happy together?  Is such a notion possible?

#4 – Clearly, the past pains Scrooge.  He thinks about his old life in the countryside, his sister, his old boss and work friends and parties, his lost love.  The past cannot be changed and yet regrets have a tendency to eat away at us.

To get older is to be peppered with constant spoilers.  To be young is to have all of life ahead and to be comforted by beliefs that things will get better.  To be old is to be aware of how things turned out yet to have no comfort in thinking that things will get better as there is much less time left.

How can we live our lives so as to be regret free?  Is that possible?  If we have regrets, how can we learn to live with them so that they don’t weigh us down?

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Bookshelf Battle Cast – Episode 1 – “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens” – Stave 1 – Marley’s Ghost – Discussion and Study Questions

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Huzzah, 3.5 readers!

The Bookshelf Battle Cast lives!  Yes, on this fine blog, I’ll be reviewing pop cultural happenings, attempting to be funny, and telling you all about my adventures as a magic bookshelf caretaker, yeti fighter and so on.

The podcast will be very different.  I am very, very far from being the world’s greatest vocal talent, so I’ll be playing it straight.  Each episode, I’ll be reading a piece of public domain literature.  After you listen to me read it in my mush mouth voice, stop by this incredible blog for a discussion and study questions.

FYI – apologies.  I’m new to this.  There were some technical difficulties.  I said I’d let my spokeswoman tell you all about who I am, but for some reason, Garageband did not like that file.  It became a big production to try to re-record the podcast, so I’ll try to figure out that for the next one.  Forgive me people, I’m learning as I go.

Oh well.  Check out what my spokeswoman would have said here:

In Stave 1 – “Marley’s Ghost” we begin with a classic line in literature – “Marley was dead to begin with.  Scrooge pops the joyous bubble of his nephew and local charity collectors, only to be warned by the ghost of his fellow usurer Jacob Marley that if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll be a ghost too, forced to trudge the world with chains attached to him, lamenting the life he wasted on counting coins instead of helping the less fortunate.

STUDY QUESTIONS:

#1 – Dickens really, really, really wants the reader to know up front that Jacob Marley is dead, engaging in humor to insist, almost to a ridiculous degree, that he’s dead.  What’s the point of that?

#2 – Scrooge’s nephew states to his uncle that there are things that exist that bring him no monetary profit, but they make his life better just the same.  Christmas, says the nephew, is one of those things.  Is the nephew a positive thinker, a man who knows how to build spiritual wealth, or do you side with Scrooge, i.e. the wealth in your piggy bank is all that matters?  Can you think of some things that don’t bring you a monetary profit but still enrich your life?  Would you give those things up in order to make more money?  Can money buy happiness?

#3 – The charity collectors attempt to separate Scrooge from some of his dough, arguing that men of means have a duty to provide aid and comfort to the poor.  Scrooge counters with the claim that he supports prisons, union workhouses and so on (through taxes) and thus doesn’t owe the poor anything else.  What say you?  Are taxes enough, or should people with bucks to spare share them with the poor as well?

#4 – Jacob Marley is a ghost.  Chains and cash boxes and other monetary related devices are attached to him.  He must drag them around wherever he goes.  Further, Jacob spent his life never venturing past the counting-house, collecting money and ignoring the plight of the poor.  His punishment, like the punishment of the many souls Scrooge sees outside, is that in death, he must wander the world, seeing all the things he could have experienced and enjoyed in life, but now is unable to do so because he’s dead.

Will you be a ghost one day?  That’s a bigger discussion.  You will be old one day though…and your body will eventually give out on you.  When you’re old and gray and your knees fail, your body gives up and it exhausts you to walk more than five feet, what will you wish you had done in your youth?

CHALLENGE: Make a list of things you want to do before it’s too late to enjoy them…then DO THEM!  Picture your afterlife as a Jacob Marley-esque ghost, forced to drag chains and wander the world.  What would you like to see and do so that, if you ever become such a ghost, you can be happy knowing you got to do those things when you were alive?

Thanks for listening, 3.5 listeners.  The second stave will be out as soon as possible.

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Things That Really Frost My Ass – Uncle Hardass Recites Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” – Part 1

By: Uncle Hardass, Official Bookshelf Battle Blog Grumpy Old Man Correspondent

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Hello degenerate 3.5 readers.

How are your unlikely writing careers going?

I overheard my idiot nephew Bookshelf Q. Battler saying the other day that you all participated in something called “NaNoWriMo” last month.

Interesting.  Let me do my best impression of the agent that you’ll submit your book to: “NANOWRI…NO!!!”

Get a job, clowns.  The salt mines are calling your name and all that salt isn’t going to mine itself.

In the meantime you useless wastes of space, I want to tell you all about a good man whose reputation is always unfairly trashed this time of year.

That would be one Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge.

You think he’s the bad day in Dickens’ classic?  “Bah humbug!” I say.

Let me lay it all out for you so you special snowflake twerps will understand:

EBENEZER SCROOGE WAS THE ONLY ONE IN THE DAMN BOOK WHO HAD A JOB AND EVERYONE ELSE WAS A BROKE ASS HIPPIE LOOKING FOR A HANDOUT!

If you haven’t read the book yet because you’re too busy working on your writing career (which will go nowhere) then I’ll tell you what happens.

Ebenezer Scrooge is the richest son of a bitch in London and he didn’t get there by writing books and reading stupid ass blogs, let me tell you.  No, he became wealthy through the sweat of his brow and the cut of his jib.

The man was a genius who worked his ass off, saved his money, then, as all rich ass futhermuckers do, he put his money to work for him by becoming a money lender.

Thus, because he’s so friggin’ smart and rich you’d think he’d be the hero of the story and everyone would want to emulate him but noooo.  Instead, every cheap ass, lazy ass do nothing assface in Jolly Old England comes knocking on Scrooge’s door to complain because they’re a bunch of jealous losers who wish they could be half as successful as this pillar of the community.

Do they pick Scrooge’s brain and ask him for tips on how to be successful?  Do they ask him for a job so they can learn the skills they need to make it in the world?

Nope.  They just bitch and moan about what a rich prick Scrooge is rather than look at themselves in the mirror and realize they have made poor life choices and they are failures and if they had an ounce of Scrooge’s work ethic, they wouldn’t be crying poor mouth all the time.

Anyway, so a couple of do gooder charity collectors knock on Scrooge’s door looking for the old man to part with his dough in the name of the less fortunate and Scrooge is all like, “Eat a dick, do gooders, those losers can go to the workhouse or the prison or some shit.”

So then the do gooders are all like, “But shit, yo, the poor people would rather die then do that.

And the Scrooge is all like, “Good then tell them to die, bitch, I ain’t got time for this shit I’m a hard ass working man, son.  Don’t let the door hit you in your do gooders asses on the way out.”

Later, Scrooge’s nephew comes by.  I don’t remember the cat’s name so we’ll just call him Fuckface McGee.  Young Fuckface is all like, “Uncle why don’t you come to my Christmas party!  I love Christmas and I’m all happy and shit!” and then Scrooge tells him, “Yeah, well you would be dick nuts since your parents worked hard and gave you all their cash so you can mince around like a pansy and rub your lack of a need to work in everyone’s face but some of us had to work for what he have so no, go lick a scrote because I don’t have time to go to your Christmas party.”

Then Scrooge’s man secretary Bob Cratchitt gets in Scrooge’s face and he’s all like, “Scrooge can I put some coal on the fire and can I get Christmas Day off?” and Scrooge is all like, “Damn it Cratchitt. Do I look like I’m made of coal?  Does coal just pop out of my ass?  No, that shit costs money.  And you want me to pay you to NOT work on Christmas?  What kind of pinko Commie Marxist bullshit is this?”

But then Scrooge feels bad even though he shouldn’t because let me tell you, that man could have put an ad in the paper for Cratchitt’s man secretary job and have fifty candidates lined up by the end of the week and none of them would want extra coal on the fire or want the day off for Christmas or any of that other crap.

Therefore, Scrooge was all like, “Yeah fine take Christmas off but get your ass here bright and early the next day because all of my important papers and records and shit aren’t going to write themselves, man secretary.”

After working a long ass day because he was such a hardworking man, Scrooge plops his old ass into bed only to hear some chains jingling.  He looks up to find the ghost of his old partner, Jacob Marley.

“Boo, bitch!” cries Marley to wit Scrooge replies, “Goddamn it, Marley!  I’m overworked and old as fuck!  Are you trying to give me a heart attack with your spooky white translucent ghost ass?!”

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Just another hippy harassing a hard-working, self-made man.

“No, bitch!” Marley says.  “My ass got sent to Hell because we cheated so many people and  stole all their money and shit and now I’m here to warn you to be nicer and do some do gooder shit and give away all your money to lazy ass incompetent freeloaders who don’t do anything!”

And Scrooge says, “What?  Eff that in the A.  Trump won so I’m not going to do all that hippy shit!”

Marley jingled his chains and was like, “Booo!  Boo!  I’m a ghost and shit and I will leave you with a warning that three more ghosts will come to haunt you this evening!”

Then Scrooge rolled his eyes and said, “Damn it.  A hard working, successful man can’t get some sleep around here.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

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The Daily Scrooge – Part 6

“I wish,” Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes with his cuff: “but it’s too late now.”

“What is the matter?” asked the Spirit.

“Nothing,” said Scrooge. “Nothing. There was a boy singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night. I should like to have given him something: that’s all.”

As discussed in yesterday’s post, A Christmas Carol is all about one man’s ability to change.  The ongoing question – do we have that ability?  Has anyone ever suffered from X issue only to one day come around and leave X issue in the past?  Feel free to share!

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The Daily Scrooge – Part 5

But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

If Charles Dickens were alive today, he’d totally have a show on MSNBC.  Moral of most of his works?  Greed=Bad.  Charity=Good.  Here, we have Marley’s Ghost, an apparition of Scrooge’s former business partner, lamenting the mistakes he made in life, urging Scrooge to not repeat them.

Marley keeps repeating the word “business.”  “Mankind was my business.  The common welfare was my business…”  No, in actuality, Marley did not make any of these good deeds his business when he was alive, but he is trying to say that he should have made these actions his business.

A Christmas Carol is all about change, and urging people to change their erroneous ways before it is too late.  What do you think?  Can people change, or are they destined to stay the same?

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The Daily Scrooge – Part 4

How shall I ever understand this world? There is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty, and yet, there is nothing it condemns with such severity as the pursuit of wealth.

You have to admit, he’s got a point.  Life is undeniably difficult, if not impossible, as a person in abject poverty.  Ironically, people who keep that fact in mind and work hard and find ways to put as much financial distance as they can between themselves and poverty get villainized.

Dickens may have considered that with the character of Fezziwig, Scrooge’s original boss who got him into the money counting game.  Even though Fezziwig was wealthy, he always threw a big party on Christmas, and one can assume he always helped the less fortunate he encountered.

It is all a balancing act.  You’d hate to be poor.  People will hate you if you’re rich.  Either way, someone is going to hate something.

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The Daily Scrooge

Quotes from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, now till Christmas, because…well, honestly, no reason:

“Nephew!” returned the uncle, sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew.  “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge.  “Much good may it do you!  Much good it has ever done you!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew.  “Christmas among the rest.  But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round — apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.  And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded: becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he poked the fire, and extinguished the last frail spark for ever.

“Let me hear another sound from you,” said Scrooge, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation.  You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir,” he added, turning to his nephew.  “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament.”

What do you think?  Are there things in this world that don’t “put a scrap of gold or silver into your pocket, but do you good anyway?”  Or is anything that doesn’t bring you a profit a bunch of humbug?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – Public Domain Copy

Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas Bookshelf Battlers!  ‘Tis the season to be ready!  (You are not supposed to read the word “ready” as in “being prepared” but “reedy” as in, being a person who likes to read.  Nevermind).

It has been tough keeping up the old Bookshelf Battle blog (follow along on twitter @bookshelfbattle ) lately.  I’ve been writing up a storm on a book idea I have and unfortunately I have limited time, so the little time I do get I’d rather spending working on that than posting here, though I wish I could do both.

It’s been ages since I’ve done a book review.  That’s sad, since that’s what this blog is all about.  But one goal I have is to also promote the classics, especially those in the public domain that belong to the ages.

So without further ado, here is a link to Project Gutenberg’s version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – the story of hard working Ebenezer Scrooge, an evil one-percenter who made his gold shillings off the backs of the poor, and was happy to do so until three liberal bleeding heart ghosts guilted him into spreading his loot around.

OK, so maybe the story doesn’t work well with modern terminology, but enjoy anyway!

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/46

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