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For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1960, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is highly sought after by families and scholars alike—for it was Gardner who first decoded the wordplay and the many mathematical riddles that lie embedded in Carroll's two classic stories: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking ...
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For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1960, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is highly sought after by families and scholars alike—for it was Gardner who first decoded the wordplay and the many mathematical riddles that lie embedded in Carroll's two classic stories: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
Forty years after this groundbreaking publication, Norton is proud to publish the Definitive Edition of The Annotated Alice, a work that combines the notes of Gardner's 1960 edition with his 1990 update, More Annotated Alice, as well as additional new discoveries and updates drawn from Gardner's encyclopedic knowledge of the texts. Illustrated with John Tenniel's classic and beloved art—along with many recently discovered Tenniel pencil sketches—The Annotated Alice is Gardner's most beautiful and enduring tribute to Carroll's masterpieces yet. The redoubtable Gardner has been called by Douglas Hofstadter "one of the great intellects produced in this country in this century." With The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, we have this remarkable scholar's crowning achievement.
Alice1 was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
So she was considering, in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.
There was nothing so very remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so very much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but, when the Rabbit actually took a watch out of its waistcoat-pocket, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before seen a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and, burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.
In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.
Therabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well.
Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. First, she tried to look down and make out what she was coming to, but it was too dark to see anything: then she looked at the sides of the well, and noticed that they were filled with cupboards and book-shelves: here and there she saw maps and pictures hung upon pegs. She took down a jar from one of the shelves as she passed: it was labeled "ORANGE MARMALADE," but to her great disappointment it was empty: she did not like to drop the jar, for fear of killing somebody underneath, so managed to put it into one of the cupboards as she fell past it.2
"Well!" thought Alice to herself. "After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling downstairs! How brave they'll all think me at home! Why, I wouldn't say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!" (Which was very likely true.)3
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I've fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see: that would be four thousand miles down, I think—" (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the school-room, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) "—yes, that's about the right distance—but then I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice grand words to say.)
Presently she began again. "I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth!4 How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downwards! The antipathies, I think—" (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn't sound at all the right word) "—but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma'am, is this New Zealand? Or Australia?" (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke—fancy, curtseying as you're falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) "And what an ignorant little girl she'll think me for asking! No, it'll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere."
Down, down, down. There was nothing else to do, so Alice soon began talking again. "Dinah'll miss me very much to-night, I should think!" (Dinah was the cat.)5 "I hope they'll remember her saucer of milk at tea-time. Dinah, my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know. But do cats eat bats, I wonder?" And here Alice began to get rather sleepy, and went on saying to herself, in a dreamy sort of way, "Do cats eat bats? Do cats eat bats?" and sometimes "Do bats eat cats?" for, you see, as she couldn't answer either question, it didn't much matter which way she put it. She felt that she was dozing off, and had just begun to dream that she was walking hand in hand with Dinah, and was saying to her, very earnestly, "Now, Dinah, tell me the truth: did you ever eat a bat?" when suddenly, thump! thump! down she came upon a heap of sticks and dry leaves, and the fall was over.
Alice was not a bit hurt, and she jumped up on to her feet in a moment: she looked up, but it was all dark overhead: before her was another long passage, and the White Rabbit was still in sight, hurrying down it. There was not a moment to be lost: away went Alice like the wind, and was just in time to hear it say, as it turned a corner, "Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it's getting!" She was close behind it when she turned the corner, but the Rabbit was no longer to be seen: she found herself in a long, low hall, which was lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof.
There were doors all round the hall, but they were all locked; and when Alice had been all the way down one side and up the other, trying every door, she walked sadly down the middle, wondering how she was ever to get out again.
Suddenly she came upon a little three-legged table, all made of solid glass: there was nothing on it but a tiny golden key, and Alice's first idea was that this might belong to one of the doors of the hall; but, alas! either the locks were too large, or the key was too small, but at any rate it would not open any of them. However, on the second time round, she came upon a low curtain she had not noticed before, and behind it was a little door about fifteen inches high: she tried the little golden key in the lock, and to her great delight it fitted!6
Alice opened the door and found that it led into a small passage, not much larger than a rat-hole: she knelt down and looked along the passage into the loveliest garden you ever saw.7 How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander about among those beds of bright flowers and those cool fountains, but she could not even get her head through the doorway; "and even if my head would go through," thought poor Alice, "it would be of very little use without my shoulders. Oh, how I wish I could shut up like a telescope! I think I could, if I only knew how to begin." For, you see, so many out-of-the-way things had happened lately, that Alice had begun to think that very few things indeed were really impossible.
There seemed to be no use in waiting by the little door, so she went back to the table, half hoping she might find another key on it, or at any rate a book of rules for shutting people up like telescopes: this time she found a little bottle on it ("which certainly was not here before," said Alice), and tied round the neck of the bottle was a paper label, with the words "DRINK ME" beautifully printed on it in large letters.8
It was all very well to say "Drink me," but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. "No, I'll look first," she said, "and see whether it's marked `poison' or not"; for she had read several nice little stories9 about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that, if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked "poison," it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.
However, this bottle was not marked "poison," so Alice ventured to taste it, and, finding it very nice (it had, in fact, a sort of mixed flavour of cherry-tart, custard, pine-apple, roast turkey, toffy, and hot buttered toast), she very soon finished it off.
* * *
"What a curious feeling!" said Alice. "I must be shutting up like a telescope!"10
And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high, and her face brightened up at the thought that she was now the right size for going through the little door into that lovely garden. First, however, she waited for a few minutes to see if she was going to shrink any further: she felt a little nervous about this; "for it might end, you know," said Alice to herself, "in my going out altogether, like a candle.11 I wonder what I should be like then?" And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle looks like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing.
After a while, finding that nothing more happened, she decided on going into the garden at once; but, alas for poor Alice!12 when she got to the door, she found she had forgotten the little golden key, and when she went back to the table for it, she found she could not possibly reach it: she could see it quite plainly through the glass, and she tried her best to climb up one of the legs of the table, but it was too slippery; and when she had tired herself out with trying, the poor little thing sat down and cried.
"Come, there's no use in crying like that!" said Alice to herself rather sharply. "I advise you to leave off this minute!" She generally gave herself very good advice (though she very seldom followed it), and sometimes she scolded herself so severely as to bring tears into her eyes; and once she remembered trying to box her own ears for having cheated herself in a game of croquet she was playing against herself, for this curious child was very fond of pretending to be two people. "But it's no use now," thought poor Alice, "to pretend to be two people!13 Why, there's hardly enough of me left to make one respectable person."
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words "EAT ME" were beautifully marked in currants. "Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door: so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!"
She ate a little bit, and said anxiously to herself "Which way? Which way?", holding her hand on the top of her head to feel which way it was growing; and she was quite surprised to find that she remained the same size. To be sure, this is what generally happens when one eats cake; but Alice had got so much into the way of expecting nothing but out-of-the-way things to happen, that it seemed quite dull and stupid for life to go on in the common way.
So she set to work, and very soon finished off the cake.
1. Tenniel's pictures of Alice are not pictures of Alice Liddell, who had dark hair cut short with straight bangs across her forehead. Carroll sent Tenniel a photograph of Mary Hilton Badcock, another child-friend, recommending that he use her for a model, but whether Tenniel accepted this advice is a matter of dispute. That he did not is strongly suggested by these lines from a letter Carroll wrote some time after both Alice books had been published (the letter is quoted by Mrs. Lennon in her book on Carroll):
Mr. Tenniel is the only artist, who has drawn for me, who has resolutely refused to use a model, and declared he no more needed one than I should need a multiplication table to work a mathematical problem! I venture to think that he was mistaken and that for want of a model, he drew several pictures of "Alice" entirely out of proportion—head decidedly too large and feet decidedly too small.
In "Alice on the Stage," an article cited in the first note on the prefatory poem, Carroll gave the following description of his heroine's personality:
What wert thou, dream-Alice, in thy foster- father's eyes? How shall he picture thee? Loving, first, loving and gentle: loving as a dog (forgive the prosaic simile, but I know no earthly love so pure and perfect), and gentle as a fawn: then courteous—courteous to all, high or low, grand or grotesque, King or Caterpillar, even as though she were herself a King's daughter, and her clothing of wrought gold: then trustful, ready to accept the wildest impossibilities with all that utter trust that only dreamers know; and lastly, curious—wildly curious, and with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood, when all is new and fair, and when Sin and Sorrow are but names—empty words signifying nothing!
I agree with correspondent Richard Hammerud that it was Carroll's intention to begin his fantasy with the word "Alice."
The symbol at the lower right corner, which you see on all of Tenniel's drawings, is a monogram of his initials, J. T.
2. Carroll was aware, of course, that in a normal state of free fall Alice could neither drop the jar (it would remain suspended in front of her) nor replace it on a shelf (her speed would be too great). It is interesting to note that in his novel Sylvie and Bruno, Chapter 8, Carroll describes the difficulty of having tea inside a falling house, as well as in a house being pulled downward at an even faster acceleration; anticipating in some respects the famous "thought experiment" in which Einstein used an imaginary falling elevator to explain certain aspects of relativity theory.
3. William Empson has pointed out (in the section on Lewis Carroll in his Some Versions of Pastoral) that this is the first death joke in the Alice books. There are many more to come.
4. In Carroll's day there was considerable popular speculation about what would happen if one fell through a hole that went straight through the center of the earth. Plutarch had asked the question and many famous thinkers, including Francis Bacon and Voltaire, had argued about it. Galileo (Dialogo dei Massimi Sistemi, Giornata Seconda, Florence edition of 1842, Vol. 1, pages 251-52), gave the correct answer: the object would fall with increasing speed but decreasing acceleration until it reached the center of the earth, at which spot its acceleration would be zero. Thereafter it would slow down in speed, with increasing deceleration, until it reached the opening at the other end. Then it would fall back again. By ignoring air resistance and the coriolis force resulting from the earth's rotation (unless the hole ran from pole to pole), the object would oscillate back and forth forever. Air resistance of course would eventually bring it to rest at the earth's center. The interested reader should consult "A Hole through the Earth," by the French astronomer Camille Flammarion, in The Strand Magazine, Vol. 38 (1909), page 348, if only to look at the lurid illustrations.
Carroll's interest in the matter is indicated by the fact that in Chapter 7 of his Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, there is described (in addition to a Möbius strip, a projective plane, and other whimsical scientific and mathematical devices) a remarkable method of running trains with gravity as the sole power source. The track runs through a perfectly straight tunnel from one town to another. Since the middle of the tunnel is necessarily nearer the earth's center than its ends, the train runs downhill to the center, acquiring enough momentum to carry it up the other half of the tunnel. Curiously, such a train would make the trip (ignoring air resistance and friction of the wheels) in exactly the same time that it would take an object to fall through the center of the earth—a little more than forty-two minutes. This time is constant regardless of the tunnel's length.
The fall into the earth as a device for entering a wonderland has been used by many other writers of children's fantasy, notably by L. Frank Baum in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, and Ruth Plumly Thompson in The Royal Book of Oz. Baum also used the tube through the earth as an effective plot gimmick in Tik-Tok of Oz.
5. The Liddell sisters were fond of the family's two tabby cats, Dinah and Villikens, named after a popular song, "Villikens and His Dinah." Dinah and her two kittens, Kitty and Snowdrop, reappear in the first chapter of the second Alice book, and later, in Alice's dream, as the Red and White Queens.
6. A gold key that unlocked mysterious doors was a common object in Victorian fantasy. Here is the second stanza of Andrew Lang's "Ballade of the Bookworm":
One gift the fairies gave me (three
They commonly bestowed of yore):
The love of books, the golden key
That opens the enchanted door.
In his notes for an Oxford edition of the Alice books, Roger Green links this gold key to the magic key to Heaven in George MacDonald's famous fantasy tale "The Golden Key." The story first appeared in an 1867 book, Dealings with Fairies, two years after the publication of Alice in Wonderland, but Carroll and MacDonald were good friends and it is possible, Green writes, that Carroll saw the story in manuscript. MacDonald also wrote a poem titled "The Golden Key" that was published early enough (1861) for Carroll to have read it. The story is reprinted in Michael Hearn's splendid anthology The Victorian Fairy Tale Book (Pantheon, 1988).
7. T. S. Eliot revealed to the critic Louis L. Martz that he was thinking of this episode when he wrote the following lines for "Burnt Norton," the first poem in his Four Quartets:
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future.
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden.
The little door to a secret garden also appears in Eliot's The Family Reunion. It was for him a metaphor for events that might have been, had one opened certain doors.
8. The Victorian medicine bottle had neither a screw top nor a label on the side. It was corked, with a paper label tied to the neck.
9. The "nice little stories," Charles Lovett reminds me, were not so nice. They were the traditional fairy tales, filled with episodes of horror and usually containing a pious moral. By doing away with morals, the Alice books opened up a new genre of fiction for children.
10. This is the first of twelve occasions in the book on which Alice alters in size. Richard Ellmann has suggested that Carroll may have been unconsciously symbolizing the great disparity between the small Alice whom he loved but could not marry and the large Alice she would soon become. See "On Alice's Changes in Size in Wonderland," by Selwyn Goodacre, in Jabberwocky (Winter 1977), for many discrepancies in Tenniel's pictures with respect to Alice's size.
11. Note Tweedledum's use of the same candle-flame metaphor in the fourth chapter of the second Alice book.
12. "alas for poor Alice!": Did Carroll intend a pun on "alas"? It is hard to be sure, but there is no question about the intent in Finnegans Wake (Viking revised edition, 1959, page 528) when James Joyee writes: "Alicious, twinstreams twinestraines, through alluring glass or alas in jumboland?" And again (page 270): "Though Wonderlawn's lost us for ever. Alis, alas, she broke the glass! Liddell lokker through the leafery, ours is mistery of pain."
For the hundreds of references to Dodgson and the Alice books in Finnegans Wake, see Ann McGarrity Buki's excellent paper "Lewis Carroll in Finnegans Wake," in Lewis Carroll: A Celebration (Clarkson N. Potter, 1982), edited by Edward Guiliano, and J. S. Atherton's earlier paper "Lewis Carroll and Finnegans Wake," in English Studies (February 1952). Most of the allusions are not in dispute, though what is one to make of such oddities as the identical initial letters of the names Alice Pleasance Liddell and Anna Livia Plurabelle? Is it a coincidence, like the correspondences in the names of Carroll and Alice (noticed by reader Dennis Green) with respect to word lengths, and the positions of vowels, consonants, and double letters in the last names?
More letterplay: Consider the initial consonants of "Dear Lewis Carroll." Backwards they are the initials of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
Of more serious interest is the fact that Alice had a son named Caryl Liddell Hargreaves. Another coincidence? Alice's one major romance, before she married Reginald Hargreaves, was with England's Prince Leopold. They met when he was a Christ Church undergraduate. Queen Victoria considered unthinkable his marrying anyone other than a princess, and Mrs. Liddell agreed. Alice wore a gift from the prince on her wedding gown, and she named her second son Leopold. A few weeks later, Prince Leopold, married to a princess, named a daughter Alice. It is hard to believe that when Alice called her third son Caryl she did not have her old mathematician friend in mind, but according to Anne Clark, in her marvelous book The Real Alice (Stein & Day, 1982), Alice always insisted that the name came from a novel. The novel's identity is unknown.
13. There is no evidence, Denis Crutch and R. B. Shaberman maintain in their booklet Under the Quizzing Glass (Magpie Press, 1972), that Alice Liddell liked to pretend she was two people. However, in keeping with their contention that Carroll injected much of himself into his fictional Alice, they remind us that Carroll was always careful to keep separate Charles Dodgson, the Oxford mathematician, and Lewis Carroll, writer of children's books and lover of little girls.
Posted July 23, 2009
No text was provided for this review.