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Magical Selections

Text by: Traci G. Lee

The winter season conjures images of snowfall and warm fireplaces. What better way to spend the chilly winter months than with a novel or two, as you sip hot cocoa and cider and imagine worlds beyond your own? The purpose of literature is to take us places — it is a magical medium that seems especially fitting during winter, a time period that feels magical on its own. Allow us at Polite Society Magazine to help bring you some of the magic — both literally and figuratively! — this season…

A Christmas Carol

This Charles Dickens novella is possibly one of the most popular yuletide stories and has been retold through various mediums, including opera and film. The story opens on Christmas Eve and focuses on Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy businessman who lacks compassion and heart. Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him he must change his ways or else he'll lead a miserable afterlife. That night, Scrooge is visited by three Christmas ghosts (Past, Present and Yet to Come) who transport him to show him what his life (and death) will be like if he continues living with such a sour disposition. In many ways, A Christmas Carol is a cautionary tale told during a time when we are reminded we should lead our lives with kindness and love.


The Gift of the Magi

Another story with morals, The Gift of the Magi is about selflessness. The short story is about a young couple with little money, so for Christmas, Della Young decides to cut and sell her long hair in order to buy a pocket watch chain for her husband, Jim; meanwhile, Jim has sold his pocket watch in order to buy a set of combs for Della. Though each gift is now useless, in the end, the presents represent true love — one of the best gifts during the holiday season.


Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Susanna Clarke's novel has been classified as both fantasy and history, and at its core, it's a story of magic. Set in the 1800s in England, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell imagines a country in which magic truly existed, complete with fairies and prophecies. The world Clarke creates is as complex and unique as J.K. Rowling's own Harry Potter series and will take readers by the hand through an England they never realized could exist. "There is a great deal of magic in books nowadays," Mr. Norrell says, and indeed, there truly is.


Grimms' Fairy Tales

It might be surprising to learn that Grimms' Fairy Tales served as the inspiration for many beloved children's stories. Although they're called "fairy tales," these German stories are far from what Walt Disney might consider magical. From Cinderella to Snow White to Rapunzel, these fairy tales present the same characters and stories as their modified American counterparts but are much darker. Each tale deals with fantastical elements that are fascinating to read about from an adult's perspective — especially if you've grown up only knowing the Disney versions of these stories!