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Thread: Spiritual Dates.

  1. #1
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    Spiritual Dates.

    Hello,
    I manage to read A Christmas Carol every year and at each reading I find myself stalling at the chronology of the visiting Spirits. I take issue with myself in that perhaps I am not reading the text properly and, further, that I am a pedant! I refer of course to the well-known section of Stave 3, and I quote: '...expect the first (Spirit) tomorrow, when the bell tolls one.' 'Expect the second on the next night at the same hour. The third upon the next night when the last stroke of twelve has ceased to vibrate.'
    Now, there can be no general misunderstanding in regard to the timing of the First Spirit's visit, because it is known that this will be on Christmas Morning; indeed we are informed that the Ghost of Jacob Marley is imparting this news to Scrooge on Christmas Eve. It is with Spirits two and three that I am troubled. Marley continues to inform Scrooge that the second visit will be on the next night, (which must be the 26th) at the same hour and the third visit will be upon the next night, which I perceive to be the 27th.
    Following the visitations (Stave 5) we all know that Scrooge is now a reformed character and further, we receive the first confirmation that it is Christmas Day from the boy in the street below Scrooge's window.
    Now, you see why I am troubled. Is this a known Dickens' error? or am I not understanding his text.
    This is my first posting. If this thread has been discussed before, I apologize.
    Kindest regards.
    GCWC

  2. #2
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Hello and welcome. I also read A Christmas Carol every year around this time. I wonder how many others observe this tradition.

    As for the discrepancy in the times, I have three suggestions:

    1. Dickens pulled a "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle" and was just too into what he was writing to fuss about such details. In short, he messed up, and the itinerary of spirits belongs in the same drawer as Dr. Watson's wayward war wound (and even first name).

    2. From the appearance of Jacob Marley onward, Scrooge has entered the ghost story equivalent of "fairy time," which is capricious and unreliable. The spell breaks with his reformation the next morning (Human Standard Time).

    3. It was all a dream. This would follow the Victorian literary habit of creating ghosts, then uncreating them.

    Of the three solutions, I prefer the second but suspect the first. If it was the third, I'd prefer not to know.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 11-21-2014 at 09:48 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  3. #3
    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    I haven't read the story, but I have seen movie and play versions of it. What I thought happened was that when Scrooge reformed time went backwards to that Christmas morning. He got another chance.

  4. #4
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    I haven't read the story, but I have seen movie and play versions of it. What I thought happened was that when Scrooge reformed time went backwards to that Christmas morning. He got another chance.
    Oh I like that. It's sort of a Christian version of fairy time--the opposite of what happened to Rip Van Winkle.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

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