Many people have heard of the Ghost of Christmas Past from Charles Dickens’s novel, The Christmas Carol – but this was not the only spooky tale Dickens told. At this fifth lecture in the Institute of Advanced Study’s Evidence of Spirits series, Simon James will investigate ghostly hauntings throughout Dickens’s original stories and novels, and as they have been reincarnated on screen. The lecture starts on Tuesday 8th December, at 18.15, in Elvet Riverside 140. Everyone welcome.
For Charles Dickens, it is imperative for a person to be able to remember their past selves, in particular their childhood self. While it is important not to live in the past, previous versions of the self have to be recognised in order to be a moral and a well-adjusted person.
Ghosts in Dickens frequently serve as a reminder of past or alternate lives. The eponymous Signalman is haunted by a spectre of railway accidents; in The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain, Redlaw surrenders his memories of past wrongs, but finds himself unable to sympathise with the sufferings of others. Most famously, the ghosts of A Christmas Carol place Scrooge in a better relationship with other people in his past, present and future.
This lecture will also briefly consider the spectral afterlives of Dickens’s work in TV and film adaptations.
This series of lectures forms part of the Institute of Advanced Study’s year on the theme of ‘evidence.’ Future lectures will look at topics ranging ghosts in medieval Europe to John Keats’s shadows. Full listings can be found at the Institute of Advanced Study. The first lecture from the series, on ghosts in William Wordsworth’s poetry, is available to listen to now.