Published: December 13, 2016
NEW YORK CITY – Every holiday season, the Morgan Library & Museum displays Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of A Christmas Carol in Pierpont Morgan’s historic library. Dickens wrote his iconic tale in a six-week flurry of activity beginning in October 1843 and ending in time for Christmas publication. He had the manuscript bound in red morocco as a gift for his solicitor, Thomas Mitton. The manuscript then passed through several owners before Pierpont Morgan acquired it in the 1890s.
This year the manuscript will be open to the powerfully dramatic ending of Stave I and on view through January 8. As Scrooge looks out of his bedroom window at the end of his terrifying encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley, he is aware of “incoherent sounds of lamentation and regret.”
Scrooge, “desperate in his curiosity,” witnesses a macabre scene – one of the most chilling in the entire ghost story – as Marley’s ghost drifts “out upon the bleak, dark night,” and the air is “filled with phantoms.” Scrooge personally recognizes some of the ghosts that he observes; they all “wore chains like Marley’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.” By implicating individuals and governments alike, Dickens amplifies his condemnation of those who failed to ameliorate human wretchedness when they had an opportunity to do so, and have now “lost the power for ever.” Dickens brings the curtain down on the first chapter of his book with a harrowing vision of purgatorial suffering.
The Morgan Library & Museum is at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street. For information, www.themorgan.org or 212-685-0008.
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