tv NBC Nightly News With Lester Holt NBC November 27, 2016 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
thanksgiving has passed as has the christmas parade there for the holidays are here. one of the most endearing stories is a christmas carol by charles dickens. first published in 1843 take the actualit christmas carol being a ghost story of christmas. i recently read dickens was not the first author to celebrate the christmas season in the literature but he superimposed his humanitarian vision of the holiday on the public. in our backyard literally is a dickens scholar. doctor eliot elliott angle of and see state. doctor there angle has talked on dickens for decades and tonight he shares his insight. we begin with this question why
christmas carol. >> i would love to say he was filled with christmas spirit. that was part of it. good to be honest he needed the money. this is a constantly reframe in dickinson's life. he was a generous man he gave away more money than most of us willr was raised in the shadow of the debtor's prison he has his father could never make a living it didn't matter how much money dickens ever had he was convinced tomorrow he would be back at that debtor's prison with his family. he felt that learning more and more money was the only way to protect him from the biggest shock of his life which it was when his father was escorted to
>> money was important to him for security. how hot -- all to see what he saw his father escorted into present. >> eleven years old. are really bad age. young enough to be traumatized old enough for this to cinch and intellectually that this is the man who supposed to take care of me and here we are. everyone else lived in the debtor's prison. didn't live there because he was the one child they. to go out and earn a living to get them out of prison. the only way y 1830s was to pay off your debt. but if you're in prison you can't go out and work. so generally they pick the child they thought they had the best of hope earning a living. he got a terrible job but they aren't enough job to get his family out of debtor's prison. >> how old was he when you are the christmas carol. >> he was 32. i don't know about you but i
was not his first great work. -- it was the sixth. he was 25 when he had his first international best seller. he followed that up with all the twists the next year. he followed that up with nicholas nickleby the next year. old curiosity shop next year. barbie the next year. here he is just a little over 305 international blocks. but then his to write a christmas carol it was called martin chelsea. it was a died. >> what was it about. >> actually it was a delight for novel. it had go first after who wrote. you know much about he needed the money. he didn't get the full book he
installment and thought this is dreadful. into the quit buying it. here is dickens with lots of children. a wife who like to find things and so christmas carol came to him because he had to make up the money. >> out of necessity. >> out of necessity but also their had been a symposium that dickens was invited to the question was what to the poor want for christmas. dickens went to they had no idea about. dickens having been raised in poverty understood the poor. these are just below our politicians and it dickens. what the poor probably wanted for christmas was a story written by him from the point of view of the poor family. the graduates. and so it was the symposium that wasn't going the way you wanted that gave him the idea.
something for the poor for christmas and the other parties he wanted to do something with for the dickens household christmas which was make a lot of money which he never did. christmas carol wildly popular financially disastrous. >> will get back in a moment. i'm curious how that happens in publishing even at the time. but here is this 32-year-old and he is writing he is also writing about someone much older and he is looking through the lens of an aged man that he won't see for years to correct. >> how did this mind work to create this. >> this first novel the main character was an old man. there's no way he could have
things. i say he was born into it. he had a genius for character. for empathy. understanding people who are absolutely opposite. there is a term for it. the poet john keats called it negative capability. it means as an artist you empty your cell of who you are and so you are a negative and you feel yourself with other characters that you have that you never really understood. as a man he was limited but as a genius and an artist he had an unlimited capacity for understanding everybody. screwed tiny tim. they are all there. >> so this genius who gets into these characters. what is it in his genius that those of us who have not studied
christmas carol because we enjoy it from a literary or emotional standpoint at least once a year. what is it that we are missing. >> here is what you're missing. there is no question that william shakespeare is the greatest writer in the english language. dickens even can't touch him. but there is one aspect of writing that critics agree dickens is even better than shakespeare. it is sense dickens is the funniest writer in the english language.
we're talking charles dickens tonight as we are on the record with doctor elliott ingle of nc state. before the break we heard it dickens described as funnier than shakespeare. >> christmas carol is hardly a barrel of laughs because he was they are very funny things in it. the rest of dickens is a comics break. particularly the first half of dickens before he became older and a bit depressed. he is so funny. i had my students read nicholas nickleby. that is what you're missing -- missing if you just do christmas carol . you may have asked me and to pretend you set elliott what novel would you recommend people listening this dickens of that
thank you david for asking that. the answer is gone b &-ampersand-and sign. it is an obscure novel. he wrote it and i think it's one of his greatest. the best thing about reading it will be sitting in the public and you think this person must be a genius. i wouldn't retail of two cities in my life depended on it. dombey you can get it from any library. >> what is the theme. >> the theme is about an awful father whose entire life was devoted to turning over his filthy rich business to his son little paul dombey and one of the great scenes dickens have ever written wise he kills off
old. look at tiny tim. he gets to kill him and bring him back. very clever. this one only person left in the family says daughter florence who he is not entirely. and it is the story like christmas carol of a hard hearted man discovering that his daughter is the best thing that ever happened to him including very supportive christmas carol. >> you talked about earlier the christmas carols letter financial success. why how does that happen. >> it made a fortune. i feel he could have made all the money in the world when we wrote it he was so caught up in the christmas spirit and the poor that he decided he wanted
london england have every beautiful book on their bookshelf. so for the only time in his life he was not a good businessman he told the publishers to print a fantastic book but sell it at a very low price for all poor people could have it and we neglected to realize was the price he asked to sell it for was less than the price the cost to produce. so you have this wonderful case of where a man like dickens who counted every these books to be sold. he didn't lose money on it but he virtually broke even. that would have been okay but within a month of christmas carols popularity awful authors darted to bring out christmas carols of their own. they stole it and called it christmas and a christmas debra they started and they started to publish it. dickens was outraged and took
not only did dickens lose money on christmas carol he had to pay the court costs for the cases that he one and the people who did it had no way to pay him and he lost to the court. that is why christmas carol was a financial disaster for him. >> how old was dickens what he died. >> he would you would have been older except for this. he was 58. >> a very young man. to do what he did. shakespeare was 52. john keats here i'm sitting 68 years old thinking why haven't i done more with my life. look what keith did and that it was that 26. i remember when i turned 58 and thought this is the year that things died. they were all young. >> in a christmas carol dickens also shows his romantic heart and his lament as scrooge sees
beautiful. on taken what i read it. i get chills thinking about it now. when i read it of him seeing that and think zero damn. what did i do. >> he wrote that because he was currently married to his wife catherine and he that is young age he understood huge mistake. should have married mariah his girlfriend that he did not. he married catherine. >> to catherine know reference. >> now only because catherine had many good qualities but as dickens said when someone said isn't she beautiful she said yes catherine's beautiful old in the same way a cow is beautiful. anything that tell us you all you need to know about catherine. pleasant not quick. >> oh my. >> so no she didn't catch it. she figured it out later when he
she could divorce. nobody divorce back then but he left her and took up with the actors half his age. and yet he was willing to dump her and she made him miserable. the mistress. >> this guy was incredibly complex. >> he loved all mankind at husband -- as a husband he was up a pig. they had nine children and when he left mrs. dickens the first reason is his wife looks dumpy. and there is the nine children. they say charles dickens gave his wife nine children. he came home and said here dear this one's for you. in actuality poor mrs. dickens
her and places they went and so that's how she made her name. her name was adrian. the hate mail she got what she published a book called dickens and ellen. dickens always named his characters what they are. >> you bring up something interesting and that is the name of characters. >> scrooge marley cratchit. >> you can't say cratchit without picking up her crotch. -- crotch. and novel carl hard times there is a worst visible and they
child. he is not settle. that's subtle. >> what captured your fascination. >> being raised traditionally jewish christmas carol didn't mean a thing to me. i heard of it we saw the play but not being christian i read the deacons in high school and liked it but when i went to ucla for graduate school and i decided to go into best teacher at the school. i sat in the dickens class i sat in the dickens class love dickens. it wasn't dickens it is how the teacher taught it. >> you wanted to be a rabbi. >> i did. i can't imagine why now but i
i was all set to do it. my senior year of college there is something called the woodrow wilson fellowship. it was a national competition. if you want it they gave you a free ride to any graduate school you chose but you had to teach english. i want the woodrow wilson. i was shocked that i did. my parents wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer or rabbi. once i got the forced them to say okay you could be a college professor. it was five years of money they didn't have to pay and that's when i became english major. >> what do you see in the a student that you realize oh my there something special here. >> i will tell you what it is. that is when the first papers coming. it is the writing. there are many charming people but i have learned that charming young people can put it on and take it off. when i read a paper that
like a dickens novel and like dickens understands this adult far more than they ever should have because they're not old enough to i know this person has the gift of empathy and to meet it is that. being able to put yourself intellectually and emotionally in a different person. they are my greatest students. >> i want to revisit this about empathy particularly for christmas carol is concerned. it is a story as i mentioned earlier that whenever we see it. whenever we read it or hear excerpts and we pay attention to it we do feel the empathy he wanted to convey. and it had the power to change us. >> here is the secret to christmas carol.
it is the reader. scrooge is an imaginary character. they are converting us every time. and for dickens to be able to do that and you can read it every year and when they say and tiny tim does live. you think it gosh woodstock or rm i'm crying over that again. what a genius. is one of the rear people -- rear ppl could never meet on the street. not of his characters are real. here's the secret. his characters will live forever because they never lived in the first place. >> how many bob cratchit's have we known. at least elements of people have tried so hard. people say sometimes just work harder. will cratchit worked hard. he
but he worked like crazy. >> for christmas carol is actually the story of the 2016 election. that is the genius of dickens. that was the major thing of this entire election. people everyone had taken for granted who had spoken now they are bob cratchit. >> i hadn't thought of the election like that. >> but it is true. mail they weren't listening to the lower it across to work and work and work and never get ahead. >> cratchit didn't get angry. his wife got angry. >> you are so right. that is the difference. >> bob cratchit says no is a good man. >> against all odds. and we understand why he said it and
when somebody is holding you down. >> that is the religious aspect of christmas carol. that is the god rest you merry gentlemen and the last shall be first and christ is never mentioned but the whole new testament was throughout. amazingly dickens was not protestant he was unitarian. for 1840 to be a unitarian but in gui can read it get so much out of it. it is not dogmatically christian. it is bigger than christian. >> are thinks.
north carolina chinese lantern light is that's festival is back. we were sneak peek. >> this is the second annual north carolina chinese lantern festival fourteen containers were shipped from china and came into the port of wilmington and words that appear at the amphitheater. all of these lanterns are handmade and all are different except for the big dragon which is about three school buses long. very cool display. with me is a collins the cultural arts madam -- manager for the town of cary. what an incredible display you have out here. >> the vibrant colors the
the feeling of china. but also some other things to that you can experience. >> there are folks folks who came out here last year the think liz was telling me they were 502000 people came out last year. watching the combat this year. >> because you want to see new things. and we have kangaroos lyons tigers. i don't think we have any bears. but we have lots of great animals to display and new great chinese displays. che the displays are new. you will see something new. and if he didn't come last year everyone said you should have so there you have a chance to come out. >> we hope you have a very successful run again this year. >> come on out and see it. >> you can find the dates and times for the festival on our website. we thank you for joining us tonight. we hope you have had a great thanksgiving weekend and we will see you again next saturday