Thursday, July 01, 2021

The "deliberate anachronism" of seeing Dickens as referring to Tolkien

In Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol", Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Present if Tiny Tim's life can be spared, and the Ghost responds first by quoting Scrooge's awful Swiftian statement about "decreasing the surplus population" and then with a question: "Will you decide what men shall live, what men shall die?" Since I had never read "A Christmas Carol" until this past week, I read this line with a "deliberate anachronism" (as Borges put it in "Pierre Menard") as a reference to Gandalf's remarks to Frodo in "The Fellowship of the Ring": "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?" (Andrew Shields, #111words, 1 July 2021)
John Leech illustration from 1843

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