A Christmas Carol in nineteenth-century America, 1844-1870

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Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol retains a profound presence in Transatlantic seasonal celebrations and the popular image of the festive period. While the book’s reception in the United Kingdom has been well studied, its early progress through nineteenth-century American popular culture has received much less attention and existing accounts of its rise to popularity are contradictory. This article, therefore, is an attempt to trace the ways that American readers and audiences responded to this defining Transatlantic text in the decades between its first publication and Dickens’s death in 1870. After exploring its immediate reception in the wake of its first publication in America, I examine the changing status of A Christmas Carol in relation to both Dickens’s American reading tour of 1867–8 and the aftermath of his death – finding the book, throughout those decades, to be a crucial arbiter of both the popular idea of Christmas and the reputation of Dickens and his work more broadly.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-229
Number of pages25
JournalComparative American Studies
Issue number3-4
Early online date27 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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