On my continuing quest to better understand the literary greats, I decided the time had come to travel to 19th century England for an interview with the reticent Reverend Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll. Under that pseudonym, the Reverend was responsible for creating two of the more famous works in children’s literature, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. When I used my absolutely-not-made-up communication device to set up an interview, the shy Dodgson told me he would prefer it if I interviewed “Carroll.” It was with this understanding that I headed to the park to meet him for tea.
Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me, Reverend Dodgson.
‘Reverend’ you declare? I say, ‘irreverend’ is more like! (At this, he poured a full glass of water on his own head and crossed his eyes.)
Oh. That’s right. I mean, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me…Mr. Carroll?
My pleasure. Though at present I find myself wishing that your hair was made of cotton toweling, the better to dry myself. What a marvelous notion, I shall write a story about a woman made of towels!
That answers my next question. Where do you get your ideas? It seems like they just appear to you from thin air!
Oh no, no, no, no, no, no. My best ideas are given to me by a squirrel who lives outside my window. His name is Klaus and he wears a vest and fine timepiece!
Like the white rabbit from Alice?
THIS IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CREATURE.
Okay, fair enough. Why do you think your stories appeal to adults as much as they appeal to children?
Because they are honest, and everyone finds honesty refreshing, as it is in such short supply. (Having realized he’s said something ‘sane,’ Carroll quickly picked up a jar of jam and painted his face with it.) Look at me! Jam cheeks! I’m a yummy dolly!
Do you miss being a child?
I did dream of being a chimney sweep, scuttling up and down the insides of great big buildings and tickling their insides, oh my yes what fun! But on the whole it is frightening to be a child—what with the tuberculosis and the pigeons. Pigeons are terrible bullies.
I’m asking that wrong—did you enjoy being a child?
I was never a child! I was first a twinkle in the stars, and then a lap of a wave against a rock, and then I was the mushroom on which a caterpillar sat!
So you’re saying you’ve had a caterpillar behind on your face.
You said ‘behind.’ (He starts guffawing uncontrollably.)
Yeah, this line of questioning isn’t getting us anywhere—can I speak to Reverend Dodgson for a moment?
He isn’t in. He’s punting in Oxford. It’s a beautiful sunny day and he is thinking about sermons on morality! (He pulls his hat down over his eyes.)
Look, okay, I get it—you’re this repressed weirdo who can only express his distinctive and preferred identity by adopting a persona. That’s fine. But it doesn’t make for a readable interview.
(Peering out from under his hat) You look like a Jabberwocky when you are angry.
Forget it. I’m leaving. I didn’t travel through time and space to be compared to a nonsense creation.
Wait! Don’t go! I’m sorry I’m so hard to bear
But the shocking truth of it is, I don’t really care!
I do what I will, and what I will’s done
and what I will most is for us to have fun!
Okay, you know what, that was actually pretty spirited and entertaining. I’ll stay.
Thank you. I wrote it just for you. There is nothing I enjoy more than penning spontaneous tales for the delight of a young audience.
Aw, that’s sweet. Too bad I’m actually 30 years old.
Heavens, no! Can this be true? You look no older than seven. I can picture you as you were, gurgling angrily in your bassinet.
Ha ha—oh, you charmer. Anyway, your poem just now: it was closer to Dr. Seuss than Lewis Carroll—
Who is Dr. Seuss? One of those London charlatans? I do not trust the machinations of those cavalier high-street con artists! They’ll sell you a horse’s hoof and tell you it’s the horn of a unicorn!
He is…not from London. I could tell you where he’s from, but then, you know—
You’d have to turn me into a dancing lizard, I know, I know.
Who should Rebecca interview next?