Welcome to the Christmas season at SteynOnline. If you're short of gift ideas, we have some bargains galore among this year's Steynamite specials - and, in honor of our twentieth birthday, twenty per cent off everything at the Steyn Store. We will also have a full panoply of seasonal programming in the days ahead, starting with today's Song of the Week.
As we mentioned yesterday, Mark is a little under the weather this weekend, so, in lieu of his usual exertions, we thought we'd revisit some Christmas classics from the archives. As we've emphasized since we launched The Mark Steyn Club, our regular content will always be free to everyone around the world, but we are admitting Club members to a few extra features, such as our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time. So far we've presented nightly serializations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Orwell, Jane Austen, H G Wells, P G Wodehouse, Joseph Conrad, Anthony Hope, Rudyard Kipling, Scott Fitzgerald and many more. You can find them all here.
But it's the holiday season and so it seems appropriate to revisit a book that, as Mark discusses in his introduction, played a large part in the contemporary view of Christmas. Indeed, it helped re-configure the English Yuletide from the old rural "twelve days of Christmas" into the more focused family celebrations we know today. As Dickens' tale begins, we meet a man who would become one of the best known characters in literature - Ebenezer Scrooge:
Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas...
"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.
"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"
If you're familiar with movies or musicals of this tale but not the original, we hope you'll enjoy Steyn's distinctive take on a classic. To hear A Christmas Carol, prefaced by his own introduction to the story, please click here and log-in.
And don't forget some of our other Yuletide Tales for Our Time:
Little Women at Christmas
by Louisa May Alcott
The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Mark will be back later today with a seasonal Song of the Week - and back tomorrow evening with Part Two of A Christmas Carol.