Saturday, March 28, 2009

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll

I have one particular person to thank for my reading of this classic, even though when I said I was going to read this many of you delightfully said that I simply must in your comments, and that person is a fellow book mad blogger of the name Simon... Simon Stuck-in-a-Book. Had he not done his post on the wonderful images taken from various imprints of the book then it wouldn’t have become such a need to read it so soon. That and the fact I managed to find such a wonderful old copy (I have pictured the Vintage one because I think out of all the modern covers it’s the best) in a second hand store within days of his post made it all feel like the reading fates were trying to tell me something.

Now believe it or not not only have I never read these two tales of Alice before, I have also never seen the Disney version. I know it appears I had a very bereft childhood, I didn’t actually I just wasn’t really a very Disney kid and I read lots but not children’s classics oddly as my mother is an English and Classic teacher. I do remember reading a lot of Greek Myths as a child though. Anyway, I digress.

For those of you who like myself have somehow missed the treats that are Lewis Carroll’s stories of Alice I will try and sum up what happens, though if you have read the book then I am sure you will appreciate that it is quite some feat to some it up easily because frankly both stories are quite crazy. As I think is Alice. Her first Adventures in Wonderland start when out with her sister she sees a white rabbit running and talking to itself. Bizarrely not thinking anything much the matter with that it takes him pulling out a pocket watch for her to take interest and follow him down a hole which ends up in the bizarre and brilliant Wonderland. Through The Looking Glass sees her return to Wonderland… through a looking glass, I didn’t need to explain that so much, where she becomes a pawn in a very bizarre and entertaining game of chess across endless lands.

Now though I had never read the books before I found myself knowing the characters and some of the crazy plot lines and can only think that randomly throughout my life somehow I have taken these all in by osmosis. I don’t think that I can say I originally knew how unusual the book would be will plots, characters and settings changing in a sentence or even in mid sentence. Despite it being slightly confusing you understand that its because Wonderland is a place of no rules where things don’t make sense and I was totally drawn in and can see why so many children (and adults) have enjoyed it so much.

Amongst all of the nonsensical there are lessons being taught and games being played by the author. He plays with words and meanings. “Don’t all authors do this?” I hear you cry, no actually they don’t. He looks at language and plays with it turns it on its head and makes it even more bizarre and interesting all at once for example how many ways ‘I beg your pardon’ as an expression can be taken. I did feel there was a darker side to the book, the Cheshire Cat for example in my mind is frankly up to no good and shouldn’t be trusted an inch. That for me really was what made the book, I loved the characters some were rude, some were delightful but all of them were wholly believable, be the a wailing unhappy Mock Turtle, a rude Queen, a Mad Hatter, or the terrible twosome Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum I wanted to join in with Alice on her adventures.

Oh just for Simon’s benefit here are some lovely pictures from my version of the novel, sorry they arent amazing quality…


Overall if you haven’t read this book then you should I cant see anyone not falling in love with it though I would say it will be most enjoyed by those who like escapism, can completely suspend their believes and have a high imagination. If you have all those as a reader then I defy you to dislike it. It’s also getting the movie make over and as we all know that means next year everyone will be reading it and re-reading it so do it before the trend sets in. I only hope they don’t give it a new horrible movie tie-in cover, but then the idea of that happening is far more unlikely than any of Alice’s Adventures.

6 comments:

claire said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. I remember reading it for the first time, it definitely was the first truly strange book I've read, and it made such an impression on such a young mind. You make me want to reread, as I'm curious to see if I would still be as freaked out and as scared and as affected as I was. Yes, I admit it didn't really give me nightmares so much as daymares! But I loved it, them, both books.

Sandy Nawrot said...

For your sharp wit and wicked sense of humor, I am awarding you the Zombie Chicken Award. Please come over and collect it!

StuckInABook said...

Hurrah! So glad you liked Alice et al - and thanks for posting the pictures. I HAVE to re-read this now (you're right, I hadn't thought about the swarms of people reading it when the film comes out - I must get ahead of the crowd!)

My *only* problem with the novel (which is one AA Milne commented on, actually) is Carroll's making it all a dream at the end. Tsk. Obviously it wasn't a dream...

Savidge Reads said...

Claire, I agree it is very strange, I actually saw a review that claimed this was Narnia on drugs whihc is an interesting opinion.

Sandy - thank you so much I shall pop over now!

Simon T - Of course it wasnt a dream... I dont know what Carroll was thinking of tut!

farmlanebooks said...

I haven't read this, or seen the film. I'm feeling very left out now! I'll have to keep an eye out for a copy.

C. B. James said...

Two of my favorites. I've read the first with my students every year for the past five years. I love it every time.

My students are a bit more divided in opinion though.