About the Author
Richard Kelly is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of TennesseeKnoxville.
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 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 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 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.
"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.) 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 schoolroom, 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! How funny it'll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! 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 spoke - fancy 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 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.
Table of Contents
Reading Group Guide
ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS
by Lewis Carroll
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 streamthe three little maidens and Iand 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 meaninglessnessas the Lobster-Quadrille would urgeand a compulsion to interpret, or decode meaning in even the most trivial incidentas 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 dohe 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.
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- "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.
- 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?
- 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?
- What is the significance of the mushroom that Alice eats during her adventures?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
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)
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. Today's commuter.
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I've never read the book before last week and must say that disney must have had something against Lewis Carroll because they butchered this amazing book by making that cartoon. This book has an amazing amount of detail that will keep you imagining about each chapter for hours. I would recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and a wild imagination. Instant Classic on my shelf
I really enjoyed this book. It was very strange, but it kept me interested. My favorite character throughout this whole book was the Caterpillar. I liked how even after changing into a beautiful butterfly, he still remains the same snarky personality. I also enjoyed the descriptive language, and the real-ness that the author brought to Alice.
This is a book I can see reading to my children someday (that is, if I ever have any). I'm 19 and I never knew that "Alice in Wonderland" was a book before it was a Disney "Classic". My sister and I were wondering around Barnes and Noble and she stumbled onto this book. She purchased it and attempted to read it but she's only 12 and therefor couldn't really understand some of the wordings (It's written in an old style). I was bored one rainy day and picked it up. I couldn't put it down until I'd finished the whole thing. It's a lovely book and it really does remind me of being a child. I giggled a lot throughout. Overall, good read.
I decided to read this book after seeing the Tim Burton movie. It had been years since I had seen the Disney cartoon Alice and Wonderland and I remember seeing a Disney version of Alice Through the Looking Glass. In order to remind myself of what I hd seen I decided to read the book and get the original story since I never read it before. I was not overly impressed by the story but enthralled with the imagination and creativity of the world that Alice "falls" into. However I now have more respect for the classic and I definitely think it is something everyone should have in their library as a reminder of what real creativity and imagination was like without being gruesome and gory.
So many times during my day to day life, I find occasions to quote this fabulous book. It's philosophical nonsense seems to make very much sense in my life. Many times I find myself thinking like Alice and giving myself very good advice, such as, "if you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later."
I own the physical copy of this book and I have to say it was wonderful. The book was a little fast for me; I found it hard to follow at some points. One second Alice was talking to the hookah-smoking caterpillar, the next she's God only knows where. At times, I found myself hating Alice for her foolishness. I mean, seriously, who follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole? The plot over all was all right, it's the significant detailc the story's told in that makes this story a literary classic.
I loved the cover of this book, the old fashioned style. It stood out over all the other copies of Alice in Wonderland. And of course it is a great classic story. I am very happy with my purchase. This book is a keeper.
This is one of the deepest works of literature I have ever perused. Deep, taking the meaning here of perplexing and complicated, yet thoroughly enthralling. Both works take on the same general shape (fantastical worlds of surrealism) but with completely unconnected plots. However, this point lacks relevance--as does most of the plot line (if one can find it.) What relevance and meaning there is to be found comes from what one decides to glean from it. The conclusion I arrived at was this enigma of a tale is worth a read, if for no other reason than to challenge one's own thought processes and interpretative capacities. Put simply, Alice/Looking Glass is an infinite enigma of pure imagination.
I was very happy with this book. As a child through adulthood, I had heard and seen the "Alice in Wonderland" story numerous times. However, reading this book gave me a different perspective on Alice's story. I had always thought Alice in Wonderland was one story that told of Alice's adventures in Wonderland. After reading this book, I learned that wasn't true. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was written years before Through the Looking-Glass and they are actually 2 separate stories. I thoroughly enjoyed traveling with Alice through her Adventures and I also learned quite about a Lewis Carroll in the introduction of this book. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass is a must-have for a classic readers library.
I just startd to read it and saw they called chapter 1 chaptee 1!!!!!! i thought it was so cute i still think it a great book though. From, A book worm (again)
Plenty of scanning errors, but they're mostly minor. Most 's have been turned into ^s for some inexplicable reason. Still, sadly, a better scan than most, and has both Alice books.
After seeing the images in the recent 3D movie, I wanted to read this book, again. The forward and appendix provided explanation of Lewis Carroll's life which helped me understand the context of the book better and clarified some of the recent controversy about his relationships with children. Additionally, there was a translation of Jabborwocky which was great.
Don't get me wrong, this is actually one of my favorite stories. Thing is, there isn't much of an actual story, is there. It's a book about a girl who falls asleep and dreams she's fallen down a rabbit hole and into a strange world where she meets a bunch and AMAZINGLY created characters and gets into a couple sticky situations. That's all really, it's a fun, colorful story without a point. Because of the lack of plot, it's a very difficult story to form any emotional connection to. Lewis Carroll had an amazing mind, and Wonderland is a beautiful adventure through his world, but making Alice have next to no character growth forces us to remain at arms length from the magical world he created, almost denying us passage in. Alice hardly changes from when she falls asleep to when she wakes up. There is not really a disernable climax, and while she does find herself in plenty of peril, there has to be an effort made in order to see any danger she is in. The reason I do love this story, and the main reason I think it's worth reading, is because of the incredible range of characters. They're all so well-known and interesting. I love to read all of my favorite characters, especially the Hatter and the Cheshire-Cat. They all have such insane personalities, a sense of glorious freedom and fun, but coated with an obvious danger, and that makes them all the more appealing. Quite honestly, I'd switch places with Alice, just to play croquet with the Queen or converse with the Caterpillar, or dance with the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. I could easily spend years sitting with the Dormouse, the March Hare, and the Hatter, sipping tea and just giggling. Really, I think Wonderland is the place for me. Besides the fun characters and interesting situations, there isn't much to the story. It has a lack-luster plot and only the tiniest of messages that comes in near the end. It also teaches us quite an important lesson, but that one may be a little obvious. Deserving of the classic status, definitely, and one of my favorites, but not the best.
A little research told me that this story was made up during a 5 mile row boat trip, told to three girls, one of them named Alice. I thought this was pretty interesting. Alice in wonderland is great, very creative, and very imaginative. Alice falls into a world that is much like a dream, and it flows well from one incident to the next. Through the looking glass was harder to follow because it jumped into each event. Our dreams tend to put us from one place to the next with no journey. It is patterned like she's walking through a giant chess board. However, I do like that everything Alice does is backwards. Contrariwise to the mirror she walked through. Very creative. I would definitely share this book with a child. It may be confusing at times, but it is fun.
I am a 10 year old homeschooler and I absolutely loved this book!! I could not put it down!
This book is great; it is a great escape from life. I recommend it to anyone!!! :-)
"Alice in Wonderland," by Lewis Carrol is a truly amazing book, filled with imagination and creativity. While reading, the reader will find that the author truly has a wonderful gift of being able to transport anyone anywhere with his words. Alice's adventure in Wonderland is like no other, a tale which will surely capture the reader's heart!
These are the kinds of books that add to a child's already creative and imaginative nature. However, they are also for adults as well.
The wierdness and abstract perspective depicted in Lewis Carroll's engaging novel may seem like complete and utter insanity at first, but when you take the time to really read between the lines you find that...you were right!! Sometimes it's good for your mind and health to just stop worrying and enjoy a nice bout of good-humoured insanity once in a while. Even still, you may find some worthy life lessons to follow in this book of glorious nonsense, such as the symbolism of the dream rushes in Through the Looking Glass. All in all, an excellent read!
It is understanding how a much younger person would find this book boring without being able to relate to it at all. But I think that that is what makes this book golden, as it has been for years. Many people have seen the Disney version of 'Alice in Wonderland.' However I found it to be much more thrilling to read the original, therefore you should too.
Starting with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I thought it was a strange,but good book. The Mock Turtle, Queen of Hearts,The White Rabbit. They're all good characters! Through the looking Glass I liked better than the first. The idea of going through a mirror into another world I think is wonderful! The poems Jabberwocky,The Lion and the Unicorn and Tweedledee and Tweedledum were great! This book will expand a child's imagination.
Such begins the insane, beautiful poem 'Jabberwocky' in Through the Looking-Glass. Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are both splendid. I will choose to focus on Through the Looking Glass, however, as it has remained my favourite for several years. I believe it is a tale for all ages. Every time I read it, I gain some new little bit of insight. The imagination poured into the story will amaze you, as you hop through a mirror and into a world of living chess pieces and epic poetry told by weird little dancing men. In the end, I realized that it is very much like a crazy dream that you wake up wishing you could remember more of. Its really marvelous, so you must read it.
This may be a favorite for many, but I dislike it intensely. Imaginative and superbly written; absolutely, but also sinister and weird and irritating! Not for me!
I just finished Alice's Adventures in Wonderland this morning while waiting for my son to get out of Kindergarten. It was the 9th book I've finished. I almost feel like I'm cheating because, like the last book I read, I am very familiar with the story (who isn't?). As I expected it was a fun read and I can't help but think that Lewis Carrol would have been a blast to hang out with. There is nothing much else to say. I knew I'd enjoy it and I did.
I enjoyed the book. I can't wait to read it to my nephew and hopefully own children. However, I like some children's books better like: Wind in the Willows and the Chronicles of Narnia but that maybe b/c I grew up with those books and for some odd reason I did not read the whole version of Alice as a child. I liked the word play in the book the best and I will reread it a few times and I am sure I will pick up things I missed. However, you can tell Carroll was on opium when he was writing the book. Overall great book not my favorite child's book but so much better then a lot of books out there!