Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Excerpt: Slowly, Gravely, Silently

Now Playing: Ramin Djawadi - Kingslayer (Game of Thrones OST)


Because it's a week of Christmas, I thought, hey, I'm a giant cliche of a girl. I can pick a giant cliche thing for my weekly showcase!

Here's the funny thing: I'm not the biggest fan of Dickens. In fact. . .I've never read that much from him, just know a lot about him. I've had professors who absolutely loved him and professors who absolutely hated him, but I've never been able to properly form a concrete opinion about the guy.

That said, this story, overdone as it has become, has always been one of my favorites. When the holidays come, I always prop it open near my mini Christmas tree and at least skim the first few pages.

I guess I'm enamored by it because it's surprisingly difficult to tell a good Christmas story. There's million out there that try and delve into the meaning of Christmas or try to capture the spirit of it, but I always feel like too many of them fall short. I don't know what can make one succeed and I don't know what makes this one so special. I just know that when I read those opening pages, it feels like Christmas.

I almost picked the beginning for the excerpt--it has probably the best opening lines I've ever come across. (Or well, one of the best). But I think this story always had such a big impact on me because of the last spirit. Even as a frightened child, this ghost was my favorite of the three, the one I looked forward to the most.

It probably has a lot to do with its silence. There's a lot of power in it.

The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. 
It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.  
He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor moved. 
"I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come," said Scrooge. 
The Spirit answered not, but pointed outward with its hand. 
"You are bout to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us," Scrooge pursued. "Is that so, Spirit." 
The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head. That was the only answer her received. 
Although well used to ghostly company by this time, Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trembled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment, as observing his condition, and giving him time to recover. 
But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him with a vague uncertain horror to know that behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes intently fixated upon him, while he, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. 
"Ghost of the Future," he exclaimed, "I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?" 
It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed straight before them. 
"Lead on," said Scrooge, "Lead on. The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit."
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Science and science fiction have done a kind of dance over the last century... The scientists make a finding. It inspires science fiction writers to write about it, and a host of young people read the science fiction and are excited, and inspired to become scientists...which they do, which then feeds again into another generation of science fiction and science..."
- Carl Sagan, in his message to future explorers of Mars.