How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is one of the best-known children's books by Dr. Seuss. It is written in rhymed verse, with illustrations by the author. The book has been adapted to other media, also discussed below.
Table of contents
How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss completed How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 1957. The 'mid-1950s were a fruitful period for Seuss, during which he wrote many of the stories for which he is most admired today, including The Cat in the Hat, If I Ran the Circus, and On Beyond Zebra.
The Grinch, a bitter creature with a heart "two sizes too small," lives on a snowy mountaintop above Whoville with his faithful dog Max. Envious of the Whos' happiness, he makes plans to descend on the town and, by means of serial burglary, deprive them of their Christmas presents and decorations and thus prevent Christmas from coming. However, he learns in the end that despite his success in stealing all the Christmas presents and decorations from the Whos, Christmas comes just the same. He then realizes that Christmas is more than just gifts and presents. His heart grows three sizes larger, he returns all the presents and trimmings, and is warmly welcomed into the community of the Whos.
The book is one of the purest examples of Dr. Seuss's style. The ink-drawn illustrations make use of only black, red, and pink (the latter being the color of the Grinch's eyes), and the versification is strict and never skips a syllable. The purity of the verse is increased by the fact that Seuss avoided introducing made-up words intended to fit the meter (for example, "Jill-ikka-Jast" or "Sala-ma-goox", both from Scrambled Eggs Super).
Adaptations and translations
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! was adapted to television in 1966 as an animated TV special, directed by Seuss's friend and former army colleague Chuck Jones, who did much of the animation himself. The show starred Boris Karloff as narrator and Grinch, and (unusually for adaptations) included the actual text of the book in spoken form. Jones modified the appearance of the Grinch somewhat to fit the medium, rendering him in green and with a more elongated, frog-like face. Jones remarked in an interview that he had made the Grinch look like himself, so he could use his own facial expressions as a model for the Grinch's.
The songs, which helped fill out the story to the length of a television program, had music written by Albert Hague, with lyrics by Dr. Seuss. The best remembered of them, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" was sung by Thurl Ravenscroft.
Dr. Seuss also lengthened the text with two interpolated verse passages. The longer one describes the Who children (in the Grinch's imagination) noisily playing with their Christmas toys . Seuss also added a few lines to the dénouement, which in the original is laconic. These lines were read by Boris Karloff like the others.
The TV special has been highly praised by audiences and film and animation fans alike. It has seen innumerable rebroadcasts in the years since its debut, with annual showings continuing to the present day. The cartoon is typically found on the Internet Movie Database's list of the top 250 films, and is considered one of Chuck Jones' greatest cartoons made after his departure from Warner Bros.
The Grinch later appeared in a few more specials, and although they weren't as popular as his original Christmas outing, they're well-liked among the viewers. The Grinch returned to animation in the 1977 special Halloween is Grinch Night, in which he sets off to scare everyone in Whoville due to being bothered by a chain reaction of annoying sounds caused by the wind. There, he was voiced by Hans Conried. Later, in 1982, he starred in The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, where he attempts to ruin things for fellow Seuss star The Cat in the Hat. Most recently, he was a recurring character on the 1996 kids' show The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss, where he was voiced by Anthony Asbury.
After Dr. Seuss's death, the book was also made into a 2000 live-action film. Due to all the additions made to the storyline so that it could be brought up to feature-length, it was considerably less faithful to the original book. It creates a new back story to explain why the Grinch acts as he does. The film was directed by Ron Howard, produced by Brian Grazer, and starred Jim Carrey as the title role of the Grinch. This version is often called simply The Grinch; though the title actually seen in the film is How the Grinch Stole Christmas!; the word "Grinch" is written in much larger letters than the rest of the title.
Perhaps because of its demanding meter, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! has been seldom effectively translated, and it is hardly known outside of the English-speaking world. Nonetheless, a Latin translation was prepared by Jennifer Morrish Tunberg with the help of Terence O. Tunberg, entitled Quomodo invidiosulus nomine Grinchus Christi natelem abrogaverit (literally: "How the little envious one named Grinch stole Christ's birthday"). Rather than the rhythmic rhymed text of the original, the Tunbergs produced a prose translation in a somewhat rhythmic Latin. Instead of Dr. Seuss' repetitions of words, the Tunbergs generally come up with multiple synonyms, for instance, the "NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!" becomes "STREPITUS, CREPITUS, STRIDOR, FRAGORQUE!" The work has been highly praised by classicists.
- "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
- "Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!"
- "Fortasse," inquit "Laetitia diei festi ex ipsis muneribus non proficiscitur..."
- "Fortasse," inquit Grinchus, "Laetitia diei festi non est res empticia, non est res quaestuosa!"
"Grinch" as slang
Dr. Seuss's work is sufficiently well known that the word "Grinch" became used as a slang term, designating a cruel, uncaring person, particularly with greedy tendencies. In 1994, during the Republican Party's "Contract With America", political cartoonists frequently applied the term to Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, calling him the "Gin-Grinch Who Stole Christmas"
- Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). How the Grinch Stole Christmas! New York: Random House, 1957, ISBN 0394800796
- Dr. Seuss. Quomodo Invidiosulus Nomine Grinchus Christi Natalem Abrogaverit: How the Grinch Stole Christmas in Latin. Translated by Jennifer Morrish Tunberg with the assistance of Terence O. Tunberg. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1997, ISBN 0865164193
- 1966 TV adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at the Internet Movie Database
- Chuck Jones and the preparation of the television version
- Report on the television version by National Public Radio
- 2000 film adaptation of How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the Internet Movie Database
The lyrics to the Grinch Song, "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch".