Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

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Overview

First published in 1865, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was an immediate success, as was its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. Carroll's sense of the absurd and his amazing gift for games of logic and language have secured for the Alice books an enduring spot in the hearts of both adults and children.

Alice begins her adventures when she follows the frantically delayed White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a variety of ...

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Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Classic Starts Series)

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Overview

First published in 1865, Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was an immediate success, as was its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. Carroll's sense of the absurd and his amazing gift for games of logic and language have secured for the Alice books an enduring spot in the hearts of both adults and children.

Alice begins her adventures when she follows the frantically delayed White Rabbit down a hole into the magical world of Wonderland, where she meets a variety of wonderful creatures, including Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts-who, with the help of her enchanted deck of playing cards, tricks Alice into playing a bizarre game of croquet. Alice continues her adventures in Through the Looking-Glass, which is loosely based on a game of chess and includes Carroll's famous poem "Jabberwocky."

Throughout her fantastic journeys, Alice retains her reason, humor, and sense of justice. She has become one of the great characters of imaginative literature, as immortal as Don Quixote, Huckleberry Finn, Captain Ahab, Sherlock Holmes, and Dorothy Gale of Kansas.

Tan Lin is a writer, artist, and critic. He is the author of two books of poetry, Lotion Bullwhip Giraffe and IDM.

Features Sir John Tenniel's immortal drawings.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most celebrated children's books of all time. Since its publication in 1865 most editions of the beloved tale have featured the work of a single artist. Chronicle Books is proud to present this Classic Illustrated Edition with a unique vision: Lewis Carroll's original story of little Alice's tumble down a rabbit hole is brought to life by a wondrous collection of vintage illustrations gathered from the late 19th & early 20th century editions of the book. This oversize edition of the complete text of Carroll's classic contains examples of illustrations from 29 artists.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble Classics offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:
  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Zwerger's (The Wizard of Oz) captivating cover image of the Mad Tea-Party for this edition of Carroll's 1865 tale conveys the psychological tension of the interior artwork: Alice, at the head of an elongated table with a pristine white linen cloth, stares at the pocket watch that the March Hare is about to lower into his cup of tea. The Hare, bug-eyed, gazes out at readers while the Mad Hatter to his right, wearing a hat box, fixates on a black upturned chapeau (in lieu of a place setting), and the Dormouse between them sleeps. Across the table, an empty red mug is placed in front of a vacant green chair, and a teacup and saucer trimmed in red seems to be set for the reader. The painting conveys the way in which Zwerger brilliantly manages both to invite readers into the story and to keep them at a distance. From the heroine's first appearance, as she falls down a well while chasing the White Rabbit, with a glimpse of orderly bookshelves at the upper left corner, Zwerger demonstrates the many layers to Alice's journey: a cutaway view reveals that the bulk of the other "shelves" are the result of rats and insects tunneling underground. The supporting cast conveys the artist's nearly sardonic perspective. The contrary caterpillar, with six of its eight arms crossed, would be at home in New York's East Village: instead of a hookah it smokes a cigarette and sips red wine, yet--unlike Sir John Tenniel's sedated counterpart--this caterpillar is lucid, defiantly staring out at an Alice (and readers) absent from the scene. Zwerger's penetrating interpretation reinvents Carroll's situations and characters and demands a rereading of the text. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
wonderland revisited Spanish illustrator Angel Dominguez fills an unabridged edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland with 75 watercolors, most of them closely packed with lush oversized flowers, strange creatures and winding vines reminiscent of Art Nouveau-often against bizarrely serene pastoral backgrounds. Exotic birds and animals, such as peacocks and zebras, wander through the picture frame. While the illustrations bring out the text's absurdity, pretty-in-pink Alice provides a counterpoint not of normalcy but of sentimentality.
Publishers Weekly
'Tis the season for journeying down rabbit holes. In addition to Sabuda's and Seibold's pop-up editions (see Children's Forecasts, Sept. 22). Ralph Steadman portrays the curious girl in spirited illustrations that bring new life to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. Steadman's imaginative pen-and-ink drawings, which first appeared in a 1968 British edition, have here been restored, reformatted and updated. The White Rabbit's anxiety at his tardiness seems insurmountable in an opening portrait; the bottle labeled "Drink Me" unmistakably resembles a classic Coca-Cola bottle; and the artist depicts Alice outgrowing the White Rabbit's house as a wordless spread of the girl in a dark interior, with only a window as the source of light. His artwork deftly blends contemporary ideas with timeless psychological portrayals. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Originally released in 1865, this book is a timeless classic. This edition, illustrated by Ralph Steadman, which first came out in 1968 but has been out of print for a long time making it somewhat of a rarity, has been carefully restored. Carroll's ironic tale, with the familiar cast of characters (Alice, the White Rabbit, the Dodo, the White Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, the Hatter, the Queen and King, the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon). takes on a bizarre life of its own with Steadman's black and white illustrations. Children who have been accustomed to the Disney version of this classic will be curious, confused yet amazed by what they read and see in this book (perhaps some adults as well). Steadman also created the hand carved wood cuts that make the title and chapter numbers. The illustrator started his career as a children's book illustrator and cartoonist in 1956 and since then has had his distinctive drawings in print internationally. Recommended. 2003, Firefly Books, Ages 8 up.
— Cindy L. Carolan
Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Carroll's classic comes to life again in this lushly produced edition. Spanish artist Dominguez, using the original John Tenniel illustrations as starting point and inspiration, expands them exponentially into full pages bursting with color and life. Alice becomes a little older, a little more modern, the Mad Hatter a touch more surreal. The Dodo turns into a Gilbert and Sullivan admiral. The Caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat remain their old familiar selves, for they are hard to improve upon. Overall, it's a lovely book, sure to make a reader want to pick it up for the first or tenth time.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Since it was first published in 1865, Alice and her fall down the rabbit hole has entertained readers with her unusual adventures with a variety of strange characters. Through a fantastic plot and brilliant use of nonsense, Carroll has created a book that can be read on many levels. The illustrations are contemporary because the illustrator noted that today's competition was not previous editions, but television, movies and video games.
Children's Literature - Laura Hummel
Once again the topsy-turvy world of Alice as she tumbles through the rabbit hole and into events which become "curioser and curioser" comes to life. As Alice's size increases enough to fill an entire house or diminishes to just a few inches, she encounters the humorous and whimsical characters such as the erratic Mad Hatter, the grinning Cheshire Cat, the sage Caterpillar, and the crazy Queen of Hearts. Each chapter is delightful and amusing. The game of croquet takes on a new challenge when played with hedgehog balls that get up and move about and flamingo mallets, which are difficult to manage. And just who did steal the tarts? The ending is the same! As a matter of fact, the text is just as Carrol published it originally in 1865. Oxenbury has brought it into the present century with her wonderful illustrations and watercolor paintings. Upon reading the fantasy to a nine-year-old, I am convinced that this classic begs to be shared! Through the insight of a young person, one can delight in the nonsensical characters, prose and poetry.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Charles Dodgson wrote this story at the request of Alice Liddell, and for close to 150 years, it has been a favorite of young readers. Lisbeth Zwerger brings her award-winning artistic skill to the story and offers a very different look for a new generation. Her palette is brighter, the art has more of a layered look than in her previous works, and she offers more frontal views. The whimsy is there and the White Rabbit, Queen, Cheshire Cat and others will be quickly recognized. The illustrations range from full pages to spot art liberally sprinkled throughout the twelve chapters. The story can be read on one level as a magical adventure in which Alice faces a host of very strange things and variety of bizarre characters. It fills a child's need for fantasy and escape. The actual social commentary and satire will elude most contemporary readers, but it in no way diminishes the joy of reading this classic story.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8 Many fine artists have illustrated Alice in Wonderland , notably Arthur Rackham (Heinemann, 1907; o.p.), Ralph Steadman (Potter, 1973; o.p.), and Barry Moser (University of California Pr, 1982). Like the others, Browne utilizes Carroll's full text, including the ``Golden Afternoon'' poem and an author's note about the Hatter's Riddle. As a tribute to Tenniel's artistry, most of the best illustrators echo his unforgettable drawings. Although some of Browne's illustrations borrow Tenniel's composition, for example the frog doorman and the fish messenger, Browne's hyper-realistic style and quirky details make them his own. He ably avoids the Disneyesque trap that many full-color illustrators fall into. His Alice, more ordinary and child-like, meets all of the customary bizzare creatures, including Browne's signature gorilla. Readers will enjoy discovering the odd details that Browne includes, such as the fish mustache on the marble bust or the club-shaped beauty mark and the pig-earred hat on the Duchess. Reillustrating a classic like Alice in Wonderland is a challenge. Many have tried, but only a few can match Lewis Carroll's brilliance. Anthony Browne is one of them. Karen K. Radtke, Milwaukee Public Library
School Library Journal
K-Gr 6-In a note, Foreman explains that he has based his artwork for this classic on photographs taken by Carroll of the "real Alice" (Alice Liddell), some of which are reproduced in this book. The illustrator points out how, with her "mischievous little face," she "seems as much a child of the 1960s or the twenty-first century as the 1860s." With her short gray-black hair, turned-up nose, and simple striped dress, his Alice makes an almost comfortingly drab counterbalance to the otherwise colorful characters and bright backdrops that fill the tale. Ranging from small vignettes to the occasional two-page painting, the watercolors shimmer with seaside shades of blue, green, and yellow. The pictures are packed with movement, whimsy, and humor, and are perfectly placed to match the pace of the action. Scenes depicting the time before and after Alice's descent into the rabbit hole are done in brown and white, neatly delineating the beginning and end of her adventure. This version makes a solid choice for those libraries looking to spiff up their Alice collections with a splash of color.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From Barnes & Noble
All of Alice's adventures playfully pop up in this gleeful retelling of the world-famous classic. Flip through page after page of detailed cutouts, from Alice's spiral fall, to color-changing roses, to a deck of hanging cards. 8 1/2" x 11 3/4". Color illus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780448058047
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/1946
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll (the pseudonym of the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) was a mathematics lecturer at Oxford University, but he is better known to the world as the author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865) and "Through the Looking-glass" (1871), as well as "The Hunting of the Snark "(1876).

Biography

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, was a man of diverse interests -- in mathematics, logic, photgraphy, art, theater, religion, medicine, and science. He was happiest in the company of children for whom he created puzzles, clever games, and charming letters.

As all Carroll admirers know, his book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), became an immediate success and has since been translated into more than eighty languages. The equally popular sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, was published in 1872.

The Alice books are but one example of his wide ranging authorship. The Hunting of the Snark, a classic nonsense epic (1876) and Euclid and His Modern Rivals, a rare example of humorous work concerning mathematics, still entice and intrigue today's students. Sylvie and Bruno, published toward the end of his life contains startling ideas including an 1889 description of weightlessness.

The humor, sparkling wit and genius of this Victorian Englishman have lasted for more than a century. His books are among the most quoted works in the English language, and his influence (with that of his illustrator, Sir John Tenniel) can be seen everywhere, from the world of advertising to that of atomic physics.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 27, 1832
    2. Place of Birth:
      Daresbury, Cheshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 14, 1898
    2. Place of Death:
      Guildford, Surrey, England

Read an Excerpt

From Tan Lin's Introduction to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There pursue what lies beyond and down rabbit holes and on reverse sides of mirrors. But mainly their subject is what comes after, and in this sense the books are allegories about what a child can know and come to know. This quest, as in many great works of literature, unwinds against a larger backdrop: what can and what cannot be known at a particular historical moment, a moment that in Lewis Carroll's case preceded both Freud's speculations on the unconscious and Heisenberg's formulation of the uncertainty principle. Yet because the books were written by a teacher of mathematics who was also a reverend, they are also concerned with what can and cannot be taught to a child who has an infinite faith in the goodness and good sense of the world. But Alice's quest for knowledge, her desire to become something (a grown-up) she is not, is inverted. The books are not conventional quest romances in which Alice matures, overcomes obstacles, and eventually gains wisdom. For when Alice arrives in Wonderland, she is already the most reasonable creature there. She is wiser than any lesson books are able to teach her to be. More important, she is eminently more reasonable than her own feelings will allow her to express. What comes after for Alice? Near the end of Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen tells Alice, "Something's going to happen!"

Quests for mastery are continually frustrated in the Alice books. In comparison with the ever—sane Alice, it is the various Wonderland creatures who appear to be ridiculous, coiners of abstract word games. Yet Carroll also frustrates, with equal precision, Alice's more reasonable human desires. Why, after all, cannot Alice know why the Mad Hatter is mad? Or why will Alice never get to 20 in her multiplication tables? In Carroll, the logic of mathematical proofs runs counter to the logic of reasonable human desire—and neither logic is easily mastered. To his radical epistemological doubt, Carroll added a healthy dose of skepticism for the conventional children's story—a story that in his day came packaged with a moral aim and treated the child as an innocent or tabula rasa upon which the morals and knowledge of the adult could be tidily imprinted.

Alice embodies an idea Freud would later develop at length: What Alice the child already knows, the adult has yet to learn. Or to be more precise, what Alice has not yet forgotten, the adult has yet to remember as something that is by nature unforgettable. In other words, in Alice childhood fantasy meets the reality of adulthood, which to the child looks as unreal and unreasonable as a Cheshire Cat's grin or a Queen who yells "Off with her head!" But even as she calls adult reality unreal, Alice, as the most reasonable creature in her unreasonable dreams, doesn't quite yet realize that the adult's sense of reality has already taken up residence in her. The principal dream of most children—the dream within the dream, as it were—is the dream of not dreaming any longer, the dream of growing up. For the adult, the outlook is reversed. The adult's quest is an inverted one: to find those desires again, in more reasonable forms—and this involves forgetting the original childhood desires (to become an adult) in order to remember them as an adult. The psychoanalyst Adam Phillips notes: "Freud is not really saying that we are really children, but that the sensual intensities of childhood cannot be abolished, that our ideals are transformed versions of childhood pleasures. Looking forward . . . is a paradoxical form of looking back. The future is where one retrieves the pleasures, the bodily pleasures of the past."1 The Alice books manage to show both these quests—that of the child to look forward, and of the adult to look back—simultaneously, as mirror logics of each other.

Like both Freud and the surrealists, Carroll implicitly understood that a child's emotions and desires appear omnipotent and boundless to the child—and thus make the adult's forgetting of them difficult if not illogical. Growing up poses psychological and logical absurdities. The quandary of a logically grounded knowledge constituted out of an illogical universe pervades both books. The questions that Alice asks are not answered by the animals in Wonderland nor by anyone after she wakens. It is likely that her questions don't have answers or that there are no right questions to ask. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass remain the most prophetic of the nineteenth century's anti-narratives, inverted quest romances, circular mathematical treatises on the illogical logic of forgetting one's desires. They display a logic that the child must master in order to grow up. As the White Queen remarks of the Red Queen: "She's in that state of mind . . . that she wants to deny something—only she doesn't know what to deny!"

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Helen Oxenbury

Barnes & Noble.com: When you were a child, did you always know you'd be an artist of some sort when you grew up? How did you get your start illustrating kids' books?

Helen Oxenbury: No, I didn't think I would be an artist, but my father was an architect, so drawing in one way or another was very familiar to me. I drew all the time -- but I didn't really think anything of it. It was just something I thought everybody did. What I wanted to be was a dancer. I learned ballet from the age of three and absolutely loved it. And later on, I wanted to be a tennis player. I made it to Junior Wimbledon, but when you go somewhere like that, you realize when you haven't got it -- that you're not good enough. I wasn't -- so that was the end of that. Then when I left secondary school, my father encouraged me to go to art school. I loved every minute of the course I took in art. And I suppose it was at that moment that I thought I would carry on and try for a career in art. But not in illustration at that point. I specialized in theater design. And I worked in the theater for a few years and in television, and it was only after I had married John [Burningham], who was an illustrator and had already produced about two books, that I got the idea. I saw what was involved and how it was done and when we married and started a family, I really wanted to carry on working, so I tried to illustrate children's books -- because I could do it at home. I didn't have to leave the babies. And that's how I started illustrating.

B&N.com: What made you want to take on Alice in Wonderland as a project?

HO: My mother read Alice to me when I was a little girl, and I'm not sure that I particularly understood it all, but I just caught her enthusiasm for it. She loved it. And then I went back to it as an adult and saw all the things that she had loved in it. I, too, loved it on another level. But how this Alice came about was that a television company wanted to make an animated film about it, and they asked a few people to submit illustrations; I think mine were the most suitable. So I did a lot of work and a lot of research on Alice, and that's when I found my ideal Alice. And the project was all sort of going ahead...and then the team left. So I thought, I've done so much work on this, this must be the moment that I go ahead and try and do it on my own. So I took my work to my publisher, and he said, "yes, fine, go ahead."

B&N.com: Was it difficult to illustrate Alice in Wonderland?

HO: Yes. There were several times when I wanted to give it up or to shelve it and go back to it in six months. But my publisher was very encouraging, and they said, "Oh come on, Helen, you can do it...get on with it -- do it." So I did. And that's how it came about.

B&N.com: How long did it take you to illustrate Alice in Wonderland?

HO: It took a good two years to do. But all the research and working, thinking it was going to be an animated film, was about a year before that. So I'd say three years in all. It was difficult because Alice in Wonderland comes with so much baggage; the most wonderful people have illustrated it. And of course I was brought up with the Tenniel illustrations -- which I loved -- but I had to think of how to make it different from Tenniel's Alice in Wonderland. His version was quite sparsely illustrated, so I thought for today's children, because the language is a little bit difficult, they probably could be helped along the way with pictures. So I made my Alice in Wonderland quite densely illustrated. I also wanted to bring to the fore the peripheral characters like the little creatures, which Tenniel didn't do. And to make my illustrations a little warmer and a little more humorous than Tenniel's.

B&N.com: Throughout your career, you've worked on books geared toward a wide range of ages. Is there a type of book that is more difficult for you to illustrate?

HO: The board books, I suppose [I Can, I Hear, I See, I Touch]. It's quite difficult to pare down and simplify. It looks easy, but it isn't. Like an author with his writing, it's extremely difficult to take something down to the bare bones. It took quite a time to get a style going for those board books.

B&N.com: What kinds of things do you like to do when you're not working?

HO: Well, I still play tennis. I kept it up...but it's on a really pathetic level now. I also do yoga, and I love exploring antique shops and junk shops.

B&N.com: What advice do you have for kids who say they want to be illustrators?

HO: Well, I say, "Go ahead!" It is so much more difficult today than it was in my day. I mean, I wouldn't like to have to start now. It's so competitive, and there are so many children's books around. But don't not do it because of that, if you really want to.

B&N.com: Can you tell me some of your favorite kids' books?

HO: That's jolly difficult. I love the work of Edward Ardizzone and Dr. Seuss, who's an absolute genius. But no specific books are coming to me right now. I know, when I put the phone down, it will all come to me....

B&N.com: That's all right, we'll leave it at that. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Your Wonderland is simply wonderful, and it's been great getting to know you. (Jamie Levine)

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Reading Group Guide

ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS
by Lewis Carroll

 

INTRODUCTION

In his diary on July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll wrote, "Duckworth and I made an expedition up the river to Godstow with the three Liddells: we had tea on the bank there, and did not reach Christ Church again till quarter past eight, when we took them to my rooms to see my collection of micro photographs, and restored them to the Deanery just before nine." Although Carroll did not know at the time, this excursion proved to be the catalyst for the fairy tale which he initially called Alice's Adventures Underground.

In later years, Carroll, his friend Robinson Duckworth, and Alice Liddell all alluded to this day as the origin of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. In the opening poem to the story, Carroll wrote:

Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out —
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.

In its initial form, this tale told on July 4, 1862, was simply another entry in the oral story tradition that Carroll forged on the numerous expeditions on the "quiet stream." Years later, Carroll wrote, "many a day we had rowed together on that quiet stream—the three little maidens and I—and many a fairy tale had been extemporised for their benefit." He indicates there were numerous other tales that "lived and died like summer midges," but in this single instance "one of my little listeners petitioned that the tale might be written out for her," and thus began Alice's adventures.

Alice's adventures begin on a lazy summer day when a "White Rabbit with pink eyes" races by her. While it was unremarkable for a rabbit to run by her and it was not "very much out of the way" to hear the Rabbit talk, she hurried after the White Rabbit when it "actually took a watch out of its waistcoat pocket." Alice scrambled to her feet and followed it, without a thought, down a large rabbit-hole. Similarly, in Through the Looking-Glass, Alice impulsively goes through the glass over the mantel and into the Looking-Glass room. Later, in both stories, this initial impulsiveness becomes tempered through experience. Although Alice learns from her experiences, the stories were neither moralistic nor written for the purpose of teaching lessons. Instead, they were, and still are, two of the most highly imaginative fairy tales ever conceived.

Both Alice and Looking-Glass, while drawn from Carroll's extemporaneous stories, were later refined and infused with a wealth of allusions to both his own experiences and Alice's. In her travels through Wonderland and the chess-board world behind the Looking-Glass, Alice encounters a multitude of curiosities, many traceable to experiences in her own life. In chapter II of Alice, "The Pool of Tears," she encounters a Duck, a Dodo, a Lory, and an Eaglet. This entire episode in the pool alludes to a trip that Carroll referred to in his diary for June 17, 1862. On this day, during a trip, the traveling party was drenched in a downpour. The animals who appear in the "Pool" chapter represent the trip's participants: the Duck is Carroll's friend Robinson Duckworth, the Dodo is Carroll (a stutterer all his life, Carroll would often pronounce his real name Dodgson as "Do-Do-Dodgson"), and the Lory and the Eaglet are Alice's sisters, Lorina and Edith.

When it was published in 1865, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was reviewed widely in newspapers and journals drawing near universal praise. Among the reviewing publications were The Times, the Spectator, and the Publisher's Circular. The Circular selected the story as "the most original and most charming" of the 200 books for children they were sent that year. When it was published in late 1871, Through the Looking-Glass reaped similar praise.

While Carroll continued to write children's stories, his distinguished place in literary history was firmly established with the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. By the time Carroll died in 1898, there were about 250,000 copies of these stories in print.

While the Alice books have charmed and excited children ever since their first publication, they have also stimulated a wide array of literary, philosophical, and psychological discussion from twentieth-century writers. As the editor of the Penguin Classics edition, Hugh Haughton, makes clear, at the heart of these children's books lie fascinating questions about meaning. Maneuvering throughout Carroll's puns, word plays, and unconventional prose, the adult reader of these books, often finds him or herself feeling two responses at once: a submission to the spontaneous play of nonsense, to utter meaninglessness—as the Lobster-Quadrille would urge—and a compulsion to interpret, or decode meaning in even the most trivial incident—as Queen Alice might do. For twentieth-century writers like James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and W. H. Auden who borrowed freely from Carroll, the Alice books have become models of experimental writing. For other intellectuals, reading Alice's Adventures and Through the Looking-Glass as Surrealist dream books, Freudian case studies, or political allegories, they have become texts brimming with profound insights.

 

ABOUT LEWIS CARROLL Of Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf said, "since childhood remained in him entire, he could do what no one else has ever been able to do—he could return to that world; he could re-create it, so that we too become children again." Edmund Wilson also recognized Carroll's ability to see from a child's perspective when he noted, "Lewis Carroll is in touch with the real mind of childhood." Wilson linked this understanding to a flair for drawing on "the more primitive elements of the mind of maturity." These characterizations describing the creator of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass exemplify the enigmatic Carroll. However, most casual readers may be unaware that Carroll was also a don at Christ Church, Oxford University where he spent most of his adult life as a Mathematics lecturer. In addition, Carroll was a logician, a renowned photographer, and a prolific letter writer and diarist.

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in 1832 in the parsonage of Daresbury in Cheshire, England, a small village about twenty miles from Liverpool. The third child and eldest son in a household of seven girls and four boys, Charles spent the first eleven years of his life on this secluded farm. The surroundings of the parsonage were reflected in the characters and images that grace both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. One can imagine a young Charles seeing the White Rabbit, the animals in the Caucus-Race, the Caterpillar and the mushroom, the Mouse, the garden of flowers and much more as he grew up amidst the barnyard and fields of the parsonage.

In 1850, Charles entered Christ Church, Oxford where he would spend the rest of his life as a student, fellow, and lecturer; and where he developed into an accomplished photographer, and met Alice Liddell, the heroine of his great stories. During his lifetime, Charles Dodgson published nearly 300 works on an array of topics. These works included not only children's stories but also books and pamphlets on mathematics, logic, and philosophical debates at Oxford. In addition, he wrote parodies such as "Hints for Etiquette, or Dining Out Made Easy" and constructed games, puzzles, riddles, and acrostics. Among his works are: Euclid and His Modern Rivals, Formulae of Plane Trigonometry, Guide to the Mathematical Student in Reading, and Game of Logic (a method of teaching the principles of logic to children). Allusions to these writings and interests were scattered throughout the Alice books. Both stories, though clearly written to amuse young children, were also replete with puns and allusions to Victorian society, making them 'mature' enough to pique the interest of adults. Interestingly, Dodgson contrived his pen name as a slight puzzle in itself. The pseudonym Lewis Carroll, was created by Latinizing his two given names, Charles Lutwidge, to Carolus Ludovicus, reversing them and translating them back into English.

Besides the array of intellectual pursuits, Charles Dodgson's interests also extended to gadgets, most importantly the photographic camera. Dodgson was introduced to photography by his Uncle Skeffington Lutwidge. In the 1850s and 1860s, prior to the actual development of film, this art form required patience and devotion. Among the persons of his era whom Dodgson persuaded to sit for portraits were the poet Alfred Tennyson, Sir John Millais, Prince Leopold (the youngest son of Queen Victoria), Lord Salisbury (who became Oxford Chancellor in 1870), the Crown Prince of Denmark, John Ruskin, and the actress Ellen Terry. Besides such luminaries, Dodgson also photographed young children he met during his years at Oxford, including Alice Liddell.

However, it is through Charles Dodgson's extensive letters and diaries that a great deal of his life, motivations, and inspiration are revealed. Starting on January 1, 1861, Dodgson began maintaining a register of all the letters he sent and received. Although the register has never been found, the final number that he recorded was 98,721. In a letter to a friend of his, Mary Brown, he estimated he wrote 2,000 letters each year. There are letters to friends, family, his publisher and illustrator, and to endearing young fans. The minutiae of daily life also crept into his correspondence. After the death of his brother-in-law, just days prior to his own, he wrote his nephew, Stuart Collingwood requesting a simple funeral and burial upon his own death. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson died at age 66 on January 14, 1898.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Traditionally, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are both considered stories intended for children. If you were asked to support the contention that these are actually stories for adults, how would you defend this?
     
  2. Alice Liddell, the model for Carroll's fairy tale heroine, was a young child when these stories were first told. Although a child in the story, Alice often exhibits mature characteristics; and the adult characters often exhibit childish behavior. Do you consider these books to be an adult's view of childhood, or a child's view of adulthood?
     
  3. Alice rarely speaks nonsense and rarely enjoys it when it is spoken to her. In fact, her speech and manners are as proper as those of any Jane Austen heroine. How is Alice's perception of the world changed when confronted with the world and characters of nonsense?
     
  4. The Cheshire Cat suggests that everything Alice experiences in Wonderland is a dream or the result of madness. Prefiguring Freud's theories, Carroll, in a diary entry, defined "insanity as an inability to distinguish which is the waking and which the sleeping life." Besides the obvious absurdities in imagery what other aspects of these books mimic a dream state?
     
  5. "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves." This play on the proverb, "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves," is a good example of Carroll's word play. Often these word plays end up with a nonsensical locution; but at other times, as is the case here, they create a completely different, often subversive, meaning. Discuss other examples of Carroll's word play.
     
  6. Throughout her adventures, Alice grapples with her identity. While this is a common feature of most children's books, Alice's questioning often inadvertently invokes the ideas of western philosophers from Plato to Bishop Berkeley. What philosophical issues about identity does Alice raise?
     
  7. Throughout both Alice and Looking-Glass, Alice usually exhibits a passivity to the incomprehensible events around her. However, at critical times, she learns to assume control of her circumstances. When does this occur and what actions does she take?
     
  8. What is the significance of the mushroom that Alice eats during her adventures?
     
  9. Let's assume that in Lewis Carroll's original telling of these stories, he viewed himself as a teacher/mentor to Alice Liddell. How do the ways in which the fictional Alice adapts to her shifting and unusual circumstances translate into meaningful lessons for a child of Alice Liddell's age?
     
  10. If the Caterpillar from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland were to give advice to Tweedledee and Tweedledum from Through the Looking-Glass on how to solve their differences without having "a bit of a fight," what might the Caterpillar advise?
     
  11. Since their publication, many readers have found material in Carroll's book unsuitable for children. Which parts of the Alice books, if any, do you think are unfit, or even harmful, to children today?
     
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2001

    Alice in Wonderland

    I have a copy of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass which was given to me on my seventh birthday. I found it fascinating. My grandmother gave me a copy along with a harmonica. The harmonica was lost long ago, the book remains and has always had a place in my heart. I was too young to read the entire book, so my father started reading this book to me. Perhaps still having this book has given me a connection to the past. I laugh when I reminisce about my father (who is now 70) singing ¿Beautiful Soup,¿ most beautifully I must add. He also recited ¿Jabberwocky¿ and I can still hear his voice as he read the tale of the Walrus: ¿The time has come,¿ the Walrus said, ¿To talk of many things: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax of cabbages and kings and why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings.¿ The Mad Tea Party is also very memorable. There is all kinds of nonsense talk children will love to try to figure out, and as adults still might be trying to figure out! They will love the riddles and beautiful illustrations. The mouse, the chess pieces and the Cheshire cat talk most intelligently about various concerns in Wonderland. Just as everything in a child¿s world is sometimes alive to them, so Alice¿s world is filled with things that are alive and most interesting to children. Alice never seems to run out of adventures. The Looking Glass House is amusing to me as it has a cute black kitten who is quite mischievous. I quote: ¿Oh, you wicked, wicked little thing!¿ cried Alice catching up the kitten and giving it a little kiss to make it understand that it was in disgrace. ¿Really, Dinah ought to have taught you better manners! ¿¿. Kitty sat very demurely on her knee, pretending to watch the progress of the winding, and now and then putting out one paw and gently touching the ball, as if it would be glad to help if it might. John Tenniel¿s illustrations make the book and together he and Lewis Carroll created a magical world for children to explore. I hope you will read this book to your children, read them many books about many things. They will always thank you for it. Thank you Dad, I love you! You have given me so many things, and I thank you for my love of reading. I dedicate this review to my dad who will always live eternally with me as long as I have this book tucked safely away.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 19, 2010

    All Time Classic

    Without a doubt a Classic in it own. My daughter loves it and she is !7yrs old. It will entertain ages 0-99..Great investment to add to a home library.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2005

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

    This book Alice in Wonderland is a very good book. I think that it is a very good book because it is really interesting. It is a really interesting book because it's about this girl who dreams of the craziest things. In my opinion the author which is Lewis Caroll has a very creative and interesting mind. It's amazing how a person could come up with such an idea. If you were an adult that reads the book for the first time, you would think that this girl Alice is on drugs to dream of such things. If you dont think that Alice is on drugs then youll probably think that the author who wrote this book is on drugs. I know that there are a lot of books based on this title, but to me this book is the most original and best one. The book has been around for a while and still selling. The reason why is because it is such a great book. So just dont take my word for it, do some research if you dont believe me. I would defenitely recommend this book to anyone who likes fiction stories of any kind. I bet that this book would really get the attention of kids. So I also recommend this book to childeren. Childeren are not the only people i recommend it to but adults as well. Childeren and adults of all ages who love fiction are guaranteed by my experience and knowlege to really love this book as well as i do. I rate this book four out of five stars. The reason I rate this book four out of five instead of five out of five is because it could have been a little better if the authour would just have made the story a little shorter that way children wont get board. Because as we all know there are more children that will read this book than adults.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2008

    Trippy

    ok so as being a fifteen year old grew up loving alice in wonderland. Apparently this book is an acid trip relating to the song White rabbit by Jefferson aiplane says my mom. but the song and movie are great so when i get the chance im picking up this book immediateley.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2006

    terrific, witty, everything makes sense

    okay, so i realize that Alice in Wonderland seems like a book for little kids and not someone that's 11 or 12 (I read it last year), but I have still wanted to read it since I learned that it was a book and not just a disney movie. But I was so wrong, it's not even funny. Alice in Wonderland is for any age of person- boy or girl- and is about a girl that has crazy adventures in wonderland. And everything, even if it seems weird- think about it- makes sense. Have you thought about it? Even if the mad hatter and the march hair are terrible and rude, they're also very funny and hares in march are said to be crazy as hatters used to be (just all the time- not just in March)everything is like that. i would reccommend this to anyone and everyone ages 0-????? i think it's healthy for people to read something like thisat least once a month.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2013

    Awesome

    I think this isna really good
    It almost gives out the whole entire movie

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 12, 2005

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

    I am a teenager who has recently finsished reading the book 'Alices Adventure's In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass'. I was really satisfied with this book after reading it. I would have to say that this book is a middle school level. I really enjoyed this book because i know for a fact that the author of this book has got to have a real creative mind to come up with this really great material. I mean for a person to come up with a story which involves a girl having this crazy, interesting dream that keeps the reader hooked on thinking about what is going to happend next and how a little girl could dream of such things is just really amazing in my opinion. In my eyes this book deserves five stars hands down. It's a classic book that keeps all people of all ages loving it. I would reccomend this book to anybody who enjoys fiction type stories or books. I am almost certain that if you are a fiction story fanatic, you will surely enjoy this book. Kids especially will love this book because they all love fiction storys. Storys that are inpossible in the real world. I look forward to reading more of this authors books because i really loved the last book that i read which was Alices Adventures In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and author by Lewis Caroll which is a real inspirational and creative person in my mind. I have a feeling that her other books are all probably fiction storys, that dont compare to this book in anyway because its an all time classic that mostly everybody has either read or seen the movie. So to all you fiction lovers out there take a little time to read this book and im sure youll love it and be a satisfied reader once you finish the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2004

    Timeless Classic

    I acquired this book over 20 years ago and read it cover to cover over and over again. I can still remember staying up late to memorize the poetry. I am getting this for my 10 year old neice whom reminds me of me in an all to familiar way. I hope that she treasures this book as much as still treasure mine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2000

    Brilliant! A Twisted way to Capture the imagination

    It's Lewis Caroll Again! But this time He has taken the many adventures of Alice And has put them into the eyes of our Children. Only this time miss Alice finds herself being aproched with difficult questions and life situations and finds out that there is more to the world than just tea parties!

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