Search This Blog

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Anothe Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire. Melisa Klimszewski (Editor). Kathryn Huges (Foreword) . Hesperus Press Limited (2008)

This glorious anthology of stories were all first published as a Christmas Special in 1853 by Household Words magazine edited by Charles Dickens. It was a commercial venture, a Christmas edition of short stories by well known authors was a popular move. The stories are not thematically linked to the season, they are stories intended to please the audience of the day.
The Schoolboy's Story by Charles Dickens manages to have a clear voice in the unnamed narrator, a sentimental framing around an extraordinary examination of the brutal and tribal psychology of schoolboys  all working together much as bitter dark chocolate still gives the lift of a sweet.
The Old Lady's Story by Eliza Lynn Linton crams a full length Gothic romance novel into a short story without sacrificing any of the essentials, which is am amazing accomplishment.
Over the Way's Story by George A. Sala is a wonderful mash up of Beauty and the Beast with A Christmas Carol that pulls off that unlikely pairing with wit and flair.
The Angel's Story by Adelaide Anne Procter is rather odd poem about the death of a child. Reading it outside of its native context of high child mortality and strong popular religious observance makes it a little horrifying rather than comforting which was the intent.
The Squire's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell has a get set up, sharp reveal and superbly and credibly nasty lead character. Nothing extra and nothing left out, astonishing craft in writing a short story.  
Uncle George's Story by Edmund Saul Dixon and W.H. Wills is a slight piece that is competently written but feels very dated and a little lackluster.
The Colonel's Story by Samuel Sydney manages a decent plot in a short space without proving a memorable cast or anything else to pull in a reader.
The Scholar's Story by Elizabeth Gaskell and Reverend William Gaskell is a romantic ballad about jealousy, obsession and murder and a good fun read.
Nobody's Story by Charles Dickens is a bitter and bleak piece about the Unknown Citizen, there is nothing sentimental about it, the language is old fashioned , the anger is right up to date.
This wonderful anthology is a tribute to the editorial skills of Charles Dickens as much as anything. That a group of stories written for a very specific context shine as brightly now , for the most part, as then points out his eye for talent and how to gather it together.

No comments:

Post a Comment