Books Mystereadventure Reading Themes

Three Artistic Variations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by Arthur Rackham, Roberto Innocenti, and Zdenko Basic

Myra here.

It is Christmas Eve! And so what better way to celebrate than share with you three different illustrated versions of the classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – a must-read during this season.


These three books are illustrated by astoundingly-talented artists, and yes, we are spoiled for choices here in Singapore with our amazing libraries. So I didn’t just borrow one version, but three, with all books containing Dickens’ original text. I also thought that given the strangely mysterious events surrounding Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas Eve – this would also be a perfect fit for our current reading theme.

As I am sure most of you are already familiar with the text, let me just provide you with an overview of how different the art is across all the three books – and you can decide for yourself which style suits you best – there’s the fairytale/classic vibe of Arthur Rackham, the luminous and exquisitely-detailed paintings of Innocenti, and the decidedly-steampunk packaging of Zdenko Basic. We have featured all three at various times here at GatheringBooks – so they are all absolute favourites.

“Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“The office was closed in a twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his white comforter dangling below his waist (for he boasted no greatcoat), went down a slide on Cornhill, at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at blindman’s buff.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti

“Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; spoon and basin ready; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his dressing gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, ‘I know him! Marley’s Ghost!’ and fell again.

The same face: the very same. Marley in his pigtail, usual waistcoat, tights and boots; the tassels on the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His body was transparent; so that Scrooge, observing him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two buttons on his coat behind.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

 “The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley’s Ghost, some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“‘Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?’ asked Scrooge.

‘I am!’

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as if instead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance.

‘Who, and what are you?’ Scrooge demanded. ‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.'”

“There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such a rush immediately ensued that she, with laughing face and plundered dress, was borne towards it the centre of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on the defenceless porter!

“For the people who were shovelling away on the housetops were jovial and full of glee; calling out to one another from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious snowball – better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest – laughing heartily if it went right, and not less heartily if it went wrong.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“‘A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless us!’

Which all the family re-echoed. ‘

God bless us every one!’ said Tiny Tim, the last of all.”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently, approached. When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed its heat, its face, its form, and left nothing of it visible save one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been difficult to detach its figure from the night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was surrounded.


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!'”


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

“He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards, and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!”


Arthur Rackham


Roberto Innocenti


Zdenko Basic

A Very Merry Christmas Everyone!

2 comments on “Three Artistic Variations of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” by Arthur Rackham, Roberto Innocenti, and Zdenko Basic

  1. Pingback: [Our 2015 In Books – Part Two of Two] Reading Stats, Blogging Life, and Looking Ahead | Gathering Books

  2. Wow! I love the different illustrations in each of them! I’m most familiar withh the Innocenti (the one I have), but I enjoyed the others, too.


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