In 2009, on this day the recently discovered manuscript of "A Christmas Carol" was housed at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan; for the first time members of the public could study the previously unpublished additions and subtractions made some time during 1843 by the author Charles Dickens.
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To Begin AgainFor over one hundred and fifty years, Dicken's novels have been if not enjoyed for their lengthy prose, then at least respected for their chilling insight into the poverty and moral bankcruptcy of the Victorian era. And yet the rewrite of "A Christmas Carol" reveals that at the very end of his life, Dickens, like his protagonist Scrooge experienced a religious awakening that enabled him to "begin again". Because the additions to the text reveal the thoughts of a Christian believer, rather than those of an angry and frustrated social reformer.
"I will make quite certain that the story ends on a note of hope, on a strong amen"For example page 37 describes a moment when Scrooge hears Bob Cratchit report that the sickly Tiny Tim (pictured) is "growing strong and hearty". Initially, Dickens had Scrooge demand: "Is that so, Spirit?" only to be disabused of that notion by the Ghost of Christmas Present. "The child will die" the spirit advises him. The published version is silent on whether Tiny Tim lives. But in the new manuscript, a line was curiously inserted on page 65 noting that "and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father".
The manuscrupt was discovered at 225 Madison Avenue, confirming that Dickens authored the rewrite during his final visit to New York where he died of tuberculosis from visiting the City's slums. His description of the atrocities of slavery in the contemperaneous novel Martin Chuzzlewit perhaps give some insight into his moment of revelation, perhaps providing a broader view of the nature of human suffering into a distinctly Christian context.