- Author: Lewis Carroll ( 1832 – 1898) pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
- Ttile: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
- Cover: Alice and the Queen of Hearts by Sir John Tenniel (1890)
- Genre: nonsense literature
- Publisher: Penguin Classics
- Published: 1865
- Table of contents: 12 chapters, 102 pages
- Dedication: none
- Quotation: a poem by L. Carroll “A Golden Afternoon”
- Theme: logical reason vs confusing nonsense
- Setting: England and Wonderland
- Trivia: The character of Alice was inspired by Alice Liddell, the second daughter of the growing family who came to live in the Deanery, Christ Church, the college where Charles Dodgson was a fellow.
- Trivia: Carroll never resolve himself to move to the next stage of his life: he never took holy orders, never rose in the college hierarchy, never married. He was happy only in the company of children.
- Trivia: Alice Through the Looking Glass is now in production. This film by Tim Burton will be released in 2016! Burton’s version of Alice’s Advertures in Wonderland was filmed in 2010.
- This a book that is a ‘story within a story’ (frame story).
- Carroll introduces the main narrative with the (frame) poem “Golden Afternoon”.
- He tells the reader about the origins of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and his friendship with the Liddell children.
- In the poem Prima, Secunda and Tertia are references to the three Liddell children.
- This story begins with Alice’s unthinking, irrational, and heedless jumping down the rabbit-hole.
- Confusion begins almost immediately because Alice tries to use her knowledge in order to understand this new and terrifying world.
- Alice is confronted with the problem of shifting identity, as well as the cruelty of Wonderland.
- The creatures act as though their madness is normal and not at all unusual. It is the logical Alice who is the queer one.
- Alice is often in tears over something that the adult reader finds comical.
- She shrinks then ballons to an enormous size or spurts a ´giraffe´ long neck that scares everybody.
- Again she is uncertain who she is. As is the case with most children.
- Alice’s outgrows nonsense. In response to the Queen’s cry at the Knave’s trial: “sentence first — verdict afterward,” Alice responds: “Stuff and nonsense!
- At last, Alice takes control of her life and her growth toward maturity.
- When Alice wakes up from her nightmare, she realizes that reason can oppose nonsense. The chaos is over.
Character list: ( see list at the end of the review)
- This book has more characters than a Dickens novel!
- I had to make list as a guide while reading the book to remind me if the character was surly, contemptuous, friendly, mad or just stupid.
- His role in the story is to explain to Alice what Wonderland is…. a place where everything is illogical and nonsense.
- “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
- Appears in the story: in the kitchen with the Duchess – Alice finds the Cat on a tree limb – chapter 11 confrontation with Queen of Hearts.
- Characteristics: always grinning – speaks in nonsense question and answers – vanishes and reappears showing only his grin or only his head.
- Best character in the story: I found the Chesire Cat the best character in the story. He is the wise philosopher.
- He reminds me of the following quote: : Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. (Plato)
- The cat comes and he goes – he’s is and he isn’t – he’s there then he’s not.
- When the queen tries to behead the cat, he disappears, but his head remains and he asks, “can something that does not have a body be beheaded?” (ch 11) ( “off with his head”- allusion to Shakespeare’s Richard III (III, iv, 76)
- The cat outsmarts them all with his logic in this nonsense world of Wonderland!
The Chesire Cat grin: I had to do some googling to find something about the grinning cat in the book.
- Croft church has a sedilia – a seat for the clergy built into the wall – at one end of which is a carved stone face of a cat or lion.
- Could this have been the original Cheshire Cat? Seen from a pew it has a smile as wide as that famous cat’s.
- But if you stand up, the grin seems to disappear, just as it eventually does in “Alice in Wonderland”.
Voice of Lewis Carroll: After 149 years we can still relate to this….my favorite quote:
- I am amazed how much there is to discover in this book simple children’s book.
- The novel is composed of twelve brief chapters.
- Strong point: it can be read in an afternoon,
- Weak point: it took me hours to do some research about the author and the book in general. The list of characters is long!
- Weak point: parodies of popular Victorian songs or verse were lost on me. I had to depend on the notes to make any kind of connection..
- Weak point: If you don’t take the time to ‘study’ the book before you read it, you will miss so much! I can’t imagine a child could understand this story!
- Strong point: The pictures and illustrations are an integral part of the book. A visual pun (pg 28 ) is a very long mouse’s tail…tale!
- Strong point: I learned a new literary device. An antimetabole is the repetition of words in successive clauses, but in opposite order. Alice and the Mad Hatter have a strange conversation at the tea table using several examples ( ch 7, pg 61 ). “I see what I eat…I eat what I see”; “I like what I get…and get what I like.”
- I found The 13 Clocks a much lighter and more playful children’s book. This is probably a reflection of the author’s state of mind.
- Last thoughts: this was the most difficult children’s book I have yet to read. The issues seem childlike but actually it verges on an adult book!
- I plan to watch both film versions ( 1951, W. Disney) and ( Tim Burton, 2010).
- I want to enjoy them with the knowledge I have learned about this great classic.
- Alice - She believes that the world is orderly and stable.
- The White Rabbit – The frantic, harried, timid and at times aggressive.
- The Queen of Hearts – Queen is severe and domineering, screaming for her subjects to be beheaded.
- The King of Hearts – Coruler is ineffectual and generally unlikeable.
- The Cheshire Cat - Grinning cat who explains with logic Wonderland’s madness to Alice.
- Duchess - Duchess behaves rudely to Alice at first, but later so affectionately.
- The Caterpillar – Caterpillar sits on a mushroom, smokes a waterpipe and treats Alice with contempt.
- The Mad Hatter – Impolite hatter who lives in perpetual tea-time. He is happy to be different (looking at the world from outside in or inside out)
- The March Hare – The Mad Hatter’s tea-time companion.
- The Dormouse – The Dormouse sits at the tea table and drifts in and out of sleep.
- The Gryphon – A servant to the Queen who befriends Alice.
- The Mock Turtle – Turtle with the head of a calf. He is friendly but exceedingly sentimental and self-absorbed.
- Alice’s sister – Alice’s sister daydreams about Alice’s adventures as the story closes.
- The Knave of Hearts - An attendant to the King and Queen. He has been accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts.
- The Mouse – Mouse is initially frightened of Alice and her talk about her pet cat.
- The Dodo – Dodo tends to use big words, and others accuse him of not knowing their meanings.
- The Duck, the Lory, and the Eaglet – Creatures who participate in the Caucus race.
- The Cook - She is ill-tempered, throwing objects and refusing to give evidence at the trial.
- The Pigeon – Believes Alice is a serpent. The pigeon is sulky and angry and thinks Alice is after her eggs.
- Two, Five, and Seven – The playing-card gardeners are fearful and fumbling, especially in the presence of the Queen.
- Bill - A lizard (servant of the White Rabbit) is stupid and ineffectual.
- The Frog-Footman - Duchess’s footman is stupid and accustomed to the fact that nothing makes sense in Wonderland.