Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll

"Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
First published in 1865
Source: bought for my daughter who loves the Disney movie

When Alice follows a white rabbit with a pocket watch into a hole, she finds herself in Wonderland, a land where she frequently finds herself growing and shrinking and meets one of the strangest assortment of characters ever to grace the pages of literature, including the Cheshire Cat, a hookah-smoking caterpillar, The Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts.
Not long after she arrives in Wonderland, Alice begins to think that she may no longer be who she thinks she is, what with the changing sizes, her memory lapses, and all of the strange things she's seeing.  But she never really does lose herself, always retaining her common sense and feeling of fairness.

Of course the book is full of nonsense, which is much of what makes it so appealing to children.  But it's full of the kinds of humor that equally amusing for adults.  In one chapter, Alice and a group of animals have had to swim and are looking for something to dry themselves.  A mouse ("a person of some authority") began to tell the group the "dryest" thing he knows, which turns out to be a story of early English political history.  The Duchess is constantly trying to make a moral of everything.  Great long passages are plays on how the English language can be misunderstood and misused.
""Then you should say what you mean," the March Hare went on.
"I do," Alice hastily replied: "at least - at least I mean what I say - that's the same thing you know."
"Not the same thing a bit!" said the Hatter. "Why, you might just as well say that 'I see what I eat' is the same thing as 'I eat what I see!"
"You might just as well say," added the March Hare, "that 'I like what I get' is the same thing as 'I get what I like!""
"Alice's Adventures In Wonderland" was originally a story told by Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) told to ten-year-old Alice Lidell and her sisters on a boat ride in 1862.  Alice asked Dodgson to write the story down which he finally did three years later, complete with his own drawings.  When the book was published, however, it included the drawing of John Tenniel.


I generally include what I didn't like or didn't think worked in a book when I do a review but I must admit that I can't think of a single thing I didn't enjoy in this story.  I was enchanted by Carroll's clever writing and amusing characters and absolutely adored Tenniel's drawings.  If you have not read this book, it can be had for free in several places on the internet.  But if you have children, I highly recommend picking up a copy to read to them; it will be a book they will want to read again and again.  No wonder my daughter loves this story so much!  I can't wait to read "Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There," Carroll's follow up to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."

9 comments:

  1. I have seen the Disney movie many times, but have never read this book! I must rectify this! It's funny, but I just finished a book called The Third Policeman, and a lot of it reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, because it was just so nonsensical and strange.

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  2. This is really such a great book. Thanks for the reminder - I should go back to it!

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  3. This was one of four books that my dad read to me in rotation when I was young, and I read it about 10 years ago to my kids. It is a wonderful book, and the illustrations are superb. It is as much a part of my childhood as anything and I'm pleased to hear that it holds up even when strong doses of nostalgia are not part of the equation.

    I love the "dryest" thing joke :)

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  4. You know I had every intention of reading this when the new movie came out and never got around to it. And I think I have several copies of it! Shame on me. But glad to here you enjoyed it, makes me more optimitic about reading it maybe next year!

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  5. I've been meaning to read this one for the past year or so...I even have it on both my iPhone and my nook. Maybe next year (I say that alot.)

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  6. I still have the copy I bought when I was a kid, and I still haven't read it! Sounds like I've missed out on some fun reading.

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  7. I have had a copy of this book for so long...I honestly really need to just read my own books for at least 5 years to get through them all!!! this one sounds great!

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  8. I think this is a wonderful book and I am really looking forward to reading it with my daughter when she is old enough.

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  9. I have this one on audio and am looking forward to diving in once my current classics project classic is through. I'm looking forward to it!

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