The force of social satire and fantasy in the original text of Alice in Wonderland is as relevant today as when the book was first published in 1865. In this edition, Ralph Steadman's drawings remain faithful to the book's satirical tone while revealing his own passion for irony.
This version of Carroll's classic tale is a startling departure from the traditional Victorian or Disney approaches. In his introduction, Steadman describes how a fresh illustrative perspective created an original, modern vision. The story acquires new life with his audacious and dynamic illustrations.
The 47 pen-and-ink illustrations are the same as in the critically acclaimed 1968 British edition. Reformatted and meticulously restored, they convey the energy, imagination and power of Steadman's pen and introduce the wit and wisdom of Alice to a new generation of readers.
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|Publisher:||Left of Brain Onboarding Pty Ltd|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.12(d)|
|Age Range:||7 - 12 Years|
About the Author
Judith John (Glossary) is a writer and editor specializing in literature and history. She has worked as an editor on major educational projects, including English A: Literature for the Pearson International Baccalaureate series. Judith's major research interests include Romantic and Gothic literature, and Renaissance drama.
Date of Birth:January 27, 1832
Date of Death:January 14, 1898
Place of Birth:Daresbury, Cheshire, England
Place of Death:Guildford, Surrey, England
Education:Richmond School, Christ Church College, Oxford University, B.A., 1854; M.A., 1857
Read an Excerpt
DOWN THE RABBIT-HOLE.
ALICE 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.
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnelfor 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 bookshelves: 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 labelled "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.
"Well!" thought Alice to herself, "after such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down stairs! 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.)
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 distancebut 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! 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 curtsy as she spokefancy curtsying 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.) "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 very 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 around 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!
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. How she longed to get out of that dark hall, and wander 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.
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 stories 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 flavor of cherry-tart, custard, pineapple, 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."
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. 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! 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! 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 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.
Table of Contents
Down the rabbit hole The pool of tears Advice from a caterpillar A mad tea party The terrible queen The mock turtle's story Alice's evidence.
It is difficult to explain in words what the pictures are trying to say, and therefore my explanations are not precisely what I had in mind because they add shades of meaning which are not there. The reader can only interpret them in his own way, bringing his own observations to bear on the image he is looking at, so that he may agree or disagree with what I have tried to convey. When I set out to draw an idea, part of that idea is not yet formed and only takes shape and reveals itself as the drawing progresses. Consequently, the drawing acquires a life of its own and virtually takes over the direction it will follow or so it seems.
I have made a few notes about some of the pictures. The rest are self explanatory or purely illustrations.
THE WHITE RABBIT. Worried by time, hurrying and scurrying. Sane within a routine, slightly insane but more engaging when the routine is upset.
THE DODO in this picture reminded me of an Archbishop and being as "dead as a dodo" it fitted perfectly. The other animals remind me of people I know, rather as Lewis Carroll apparently created them around friends and associates. The reader can place his own interpretation on them. It was never my intention to set everything in concrete.
I rather hate dogs. They seem to have soaked up all the worst in human nature. They are more human and even more stupid. In place of Tenniel's pug dog which perhaps was the fashionable dog when he drew the pictures, the poodle seems the most apt substitute. The dog is the perfect feed for the man who wants his ego pumped. He can take for granted the dog's blind loyalty and obedience. The dog fouls the pavement and the man fouls the rest of the world.
THE YOUNG INTELLECTUAL. Smoking hash, pedantic, who thinks he has something to say and sheds his opinions as easily as his skins.
THE FATHER WILLIAM set to me is the arrogance of youth versus the certainty of an old man's memories.
- The young man reinforces his arrogance by using the old man's experience as a crutch.
- Whilst throwing past standards out of the window the young man may often come back in through the door if he finds his
- yardstick less than three feet.
- An old man can become intense talking about right and wrong, and a youth can become bored as a result.
- The old man showing he hasn't lost his touch but the young man finds it is all a big joke.
THE DUCHESS is an ex-starlet who married the aristocrat. A high-class tart gone to seed. Her tiny mind has developed a home-spun philosophy within a cultured environment in an effort to keep up appearances.
THE COOK found fame in the kitchen and enjoys her prima donna tendencies.
THE CHESHIRE CAT makes an ideal TV Announcer whose smile remains as the rest of the programme fades out.
The growth of the tea party tree turns logic upside down. It begins in a puzzle at its top and grows down to its roots.
THE HATTER represents the unpleasant sides of human nature. The unreasoned argument screams at you. The bully, the glib quiz game compère who rattles off endless reels of unanswerable riddles and asks you to come back next week and make a bloody fool of yourself again.
THE MARCH HARE is always standing close by. The "egger-on" urging the banality to plumb even greater depths. He always seems to be around to push someone into a fight.
THE DORMOUSE is always the dormouse. Harmless and nice. The man anyone in the office can take a rise out of. If you tread on his face he will smile right back at you.
THE BRITISH WORKMAN. Bickering about who splashed who and standing in the stuff all the time anyway.
THE MONARCH having evolved or developed into a shapeless mass of hangers-on, the State, H.M. Forces, the Church, the establishment walking on one pair of very well-worn legs. The King and Queen born into it and enveloped in it and lost in it, obliged to go through the motions automatically but surprising even themselves by their own outbursts.
The Duchess again The old con trying to glean from Alice some of the objectivity and honesty she lost years ago.
The croquet game when internal confusion disrupts the xvhole structure. Practically showing its knickers, the heaving mass struggles vainly to maintain its dignity and avoid humiliation.
THE GRYPHON to me is the commissionaire of a modern office block. His epaulettes are his wings. He is slow thinking, sometimes ignorant. If you walk into the building in a humble manner, he exercises his authority to the full and crushes you, but if you walk in looking important he will lick your boots. The only man in the building he can order about is the caretaker, so he is the mock turtle who may have more intelligence but is satisfied with his lot, or at least has accepted it graciously. They may also be quite good friends. The dance would express their nicer sides when they are.
THE LOBSTER wearing the old school tie joins exclusive clubs and reckons he is pretty sharp until a real shark comes along.
My only regret is that I didn't write the story.
Ralph Steadman - London - 1967
Yes, I did! I did write the story, in my other life. It was all so familiar when I picked it up and read it for the first time in 1967. For the first time, as I
thought, but don't you ever get that strange sensation that what you are reading or watching is something you already know? Something that is in your mind already? Bells of recognition ring as you welcome an old friend. All good ideas are like that. You already know them. The familiarity is part of the enjoyment. The words someone has taken the trouble to write down merely reveal the contents of your own mind. The picture someone has struggled to create is something you have already seen, otherwise how would you ever recognise its content?
You have already experienced the sum of its parts. You have lived them, or maybe you have dreamed them. They are the vocabulary of a vast collective consciousness which it is your everyday choice to delve into or ignore at will. What we choose to emphasise forms the structure of our lives, and what an artist chooses to depict forms the basis of his work but of course not the sum total, for in an artist's world two and two make five. And what an artist says three times is true! Familiarity breeds acceptance. The greater the artist, the greater number of reference points are offered for the rest of us to recognise. The more we recognise, the better we feel. We experience a greater satisfaction because we have contributed to the whole. The spectator has fulfilled his role to a greater or lesser degree depending on his or her receptive faculties.
As far as my pictures are concerned in their role as extensions of Lewis Carroll's stories, they stand up for me as well today as they did when I first made them nearly two decades ago. It would be interesting if the reader could identify (no prizes, of course) the new pictures I have drawn for this edition. I have tried to remain true to originals, and I defy anyone to detect the difference. Lewis Carroll has unravelled some of the complicated conundrums that bedevil our daily lives and our dream-worlds. My pictures are one man's response between the lines.
What can be said in pictures cannot necessarily be said in words, and vice versa. "Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."
"I know what you're thinking about, but it isn't so, nohow."
Ralph Steadman - Maidstone Bird Sanctuary - September 1986