Good read for Christmas | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Good read for Christmas

27 November, 2022

Title: Naththal Geethayak
Author: Senarathna Weerasinghe
Publisher: Prabha Publishers, Veyangoda
Price: Rs 600

Senarathna Weerasinghe’s Naththal Geethayak is the authentic Sinhala translation of Charles Dickens’ popular novella ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Dickens wrote it as a ghost story with a moral fable. It has been in print since its original publication way back in 1849.

The very opening of the story on a bleak and cold Christmas arouses the reader’s curiosity. The protagonist of the story – Ebenezer Scrooge – closes his office for the day. On the Christmas morning, Scrooge meets Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to come.

At least the older generation is quite familiar with Dickens’ novels such as ‘The Pickwick Papers, Hard Times’ and ‘Oliver Twist.’ ‘A Christmas Story is one of his shortest and famous stories.

The novella is bubbling with his small nuances, scenes and dialogues coupled with his unique narrative style.

The protagonist Scrooge has enriched the English language as a term for a miserly, joyless wretch.


Through the novella, Dickens colourfully brings Victorian England alive. He did not write a simple ghost story, it had a moralising effect on the reader.

Through various episodes, he tells us the redemption of Scrooge and his subsequent transformation from a bitter, unloved misanthrope to a kind and charitable benefactor.

Scrooge is a symbolic presentation of the sentiments of Victorian England, particularly the treatment of the poor. The reader may find Scrooge’s attitudes shockingly callous, but Dickens was simply putting into his mouth words many people believed during that time.

Vivid description

A child can read the story for its own sake without worrying about the author’s moral message which was meant for mature readers. As a novelist, he had the talent of describing scenes vividly. His fictional characters come alive with emotions. As an author he observes human nature critically.

Having read the original many decades ago, I found Senarathna Weerasinghe’s lucid translation as a quick read. The novella is considered a real gem that anyone should read for its sheer beauty. If you have not read it so far, you have missed something important.

We find both good and bad people in society. However, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a grim reminder that no one is totally good or bad because we are capable of changing our bad ways and habits.

Most of the people get a second chance to correct ourselves but not everyone makes use of it. As we are heading for the Christmas season, Naththal Geethayak will be a great reminder that we are capable of correcting ourselves.

Apart from its literary value, ‘A Christmas Carol’ has introduced words such as ‘Scrooge’ and exclamations ‘Bah!’ and ‘Humbug!’ to the English language.

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