Normally on Fridays I bring you new authors and books, but today, as we’re in the Christmas week, I though I’ve bring you some classics.
First, Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol:
There are many links to versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’, and many movie versions. I leave you a couple of the free ones:
In Project Gutenberg (including audio downloads):
I dedicated a post to Charles Dickens a while back, so if you want more information and links, here it is:
Oscar Wilde is one of my all times favourites, as I think I’ve told you more than once. I love his plays, I think Dorian Gray is a marvellous novel and a complex psychological study of the main character and the society of the time (and I don’t think matters have changed dramatically for the better, since), I enjoy his poetry, I find his essays witty and sharp, but I’ve always, since I was a child, adored his fairy tales, that were my introduction to his work. So I could not help but bring you The Selfish Giant. You’ll find many versions shared on line. I chose this one because I particularly liked the illustrations. It seems it was first shared in a Reader’s Digest in the 1970s.
And without further ado:
The Selfish Giant:
Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to play in the Giant’s garden. It was a large, lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there stood beautifut flowers llke stars, and there were 12 peach trees which in the spring-time burst into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them.
“How happy we are here!” they cried to each other.
One day the Giant came back to his castle. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed for seven years. When he arrived home, he saw the children playing in the garden.
“What are you doing here?” he cried in a gruff voice. “My own garden is my own garden. Anyone can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself .”
So he built a high wall all round it and put up a sign: TRESPASSERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. He was a very selfish Giant.
The poor children had nowhere to play now. They tried to play on the road, but it was dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. “How happy we were there!” they said to each other.
Then spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. In the garden of the Selfish Giant, though, it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it, as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower raised its head from the grass, but when it saw the sign it felt so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again and went off to sleep.
The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. “Spring has forgotten this garden,” they cried, “so we will live here all year round!” The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then the invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He roared about the garden all day, and blew the chimney pots down. “This is a delightful spot,” he said. “We must ask the Hail on a visit.” So the Hail carne. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle until he broke most of the slates. Then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could, his breath like ice .
“I cannot understand why spring is so late in comming,” said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold, white garden. “I hope there will be a change in the weather.”
But spring never came, nor summer. Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant’s garden she gave nothing. “He is too selfish,” she said. So it was always winter there.
One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. lt sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought ¡t must be the King’s musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but so much time had passed since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that the sound seemed to him the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open window.
“I believe spring has come at last,” said the Giant, and he jumped out of bed and looked out.
He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall thechildren had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child.
And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children’s heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, but in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it stood a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still coyered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. “Climb up, little boy,” said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too, tiny. And the Giant’s heart melted as he looked out. “How selfish I have been!” he said. “Now I know why spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children’s playground forever and ever.”
He was very sorry for what he had done. He crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. When the children saw him, however, they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds camee and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant’s neck and kissed him. And the other children, seeing what was happening, came running back, and with them came the spring. “It is your garden now children,” said the Giant, and he took a great ax and knocked down the wall. And when’ people passed by on their way to market, they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.
All day long the children played, and in the evening they bade the Giant good-by. “But where is your little companion-the boy I put into the tree?” he asked.
“We don’t know,” answered the children “He has gone away.”
¿”You must tell him to be sure and come tomorrow,” said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and that they had never seen him before. The Giant felt very sad.
Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend. “How I would like to see him!” he used to say.
Years passed, and the Giant grew old and feeble. He could not play about anymore, so he sat in a huge armchair and watched the children at their games and admired his garden. “I have many beautiful flowers,” he said “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all.”
One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate winter now, for he knew that it was merely spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting. Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder and looked. He saw a marvelous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.
In joy, the Giant ran out into the garden and approached the child. When he came close, his face grew red with anger. “Who hath dared to wound thee?” he shouted. For on the palms of the child’s hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on his feet.
“Who hath dared to wound thee? ” cried the Giant again. “Tell me, so I may take my sword and slay him! ”
“Nay,” answered the child. “These are the wounds of Love.”
“Who art thou?” said the Giant. Then a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child. And the child smiled on the Giant and said to him, “You let me play once in your garden. Today you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise.”
Here I leave you the original link so you can check all the illustrations:
In case you want to know a bit more about Oscar Wilde, I wrote a post about him some time back:
Thanks so much for reading. I hope the holiday season is joyful for all of you, remember all those around you, and have a great time. Ah, I have a friend coming to stay with me next week, so I think I’ll give you a week’s break. Happy New Year and hope to see you after!