Hello, Hal & Everyone!
>I wonder how MT thought of Dickens as a novelist? I don't have a copy
>of Alan's book handy
Have made a long-arm for Volume I of _MTL:AR_. The entry for Dickens is 6 1/2 pages long and begins with the statement: "Clemens' attitudes toward Dickens resemble the pattern noticeable in his opinions about Scott and Cooper: early admiration, even emulation, followed by increasing disenchantment until finally, in his late years, Clemens completely disavows any interest in, or influence by, the great English novelist's works." (186)
The bibliographical entry for _A Christmas Carol_ consists solely of a notation that "Clemens closed a letter of 17 December 1870 to Mrs. Fairbanks with the quotation (in quotation marks), 'God bless us, every one' (MTMF, p. 144)." (188)
>sure wish the new edition of MT'sL would appear, are you listening
Seconded! In fact, I have an extra-large Christmas stocking at the ready, to be hung by the chimney with care at a moment's notice.
>I wonder...when or if MT ever really wrote much about Christmas, or
>used it much as a setting?
Off the top of my head, I think of MT's use of the speaking tube in the Hartford house, as described in the "Letter from Santa Claus" to Susy; and in a 5 December 1887 letter to Andrew Chatto of Chatto & Windus, MT wrote, "I wish you to thank Mr. Christmas for me..."--which of course delighted my husband, even if we _were_ taking the passage out of context.
Needless to say, I will be following others' contributions to this thread with intense interest.
Best regards of the season,
Mary L. Christmas