Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Short: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Goodreads Summary: Source of legend and lyric, reference and conjecture, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is for most children pure pleasure in prose. While adults try to decipher Lewis Carroll's putative use of complex mathematical codes in the text, or debate his alleged use of opium, young readers simply dive with Alice through the rabbit hole, pursuing "The dream-child moving through a land / Of wonders wild and new." There they encounter the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, and the Mad Hatter, among a multitude of other characters--extinct, fantastical, and commonplace creatures. Alice journeys through this Wonderland, trying to fathom the meaning of her strange experiences. But they turn out to be "curiouser and curiouser," seemingly without moral or sense.

For more than 130 years, children have reveled in the delightfully non-moralistic, non-educational virtues of this classic. In fact, at every turn, Alice's new companions scoff at her traditional education. The Mock Turtle, for example, remarks that he took the "regular course" in school: Reeling, Writhing, and branches of Arithmetic-Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. Carroll believed John Tenniel's illustrations were as important as his text. Naturally, Carroll's instincts were good; the masterful drawings are inextricably tied to the well-loved story.
I love Alice in Wonderland. I've watched and read more adaptions than I could possibly ever account, some of them [especially Splintered by A.G. Howard and Syfy's Alice] more than once. However, I've only ever read the original when I was a kid. I'm not even entirely sure it was an exact rendering, it might have just been a watered down version...and yet, as soon as I read the first page of this tale I was enchanted and smiling. Everything was remarkably familiar when it came to plot, what surprised me [AKA I didn't remember] was the way in which it was told. Which, truth be told, is probably the most enchanting aspect of the story.

The characters are mad, but you already knew that, didn't you? I love Carroll's childlike whimsy, made so apparent through the telling and the characters you encounter. I love the setting. Its hard NOT to fall in love with Wonderland though. 

For those looking to whet their appetite with a classic, for those who aren't fond of the way most of them are written and are wanting to dip their toe into the classic pool...this is the story for you. In my edition it was just over ninety pages, complete with adorable [and they were in fact they original!] illustrations and a charming story. I absolutely loved reading about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland and cannot wait to start in on Through the Looking Glass.

Five stars!

*Note: The version that I'm using, since its for class, is a special Norton edition that is riddled with extra essays along with Carroll's stories. The picture is for the edition I'm using, the summary comes from a different edition as the Norton summary doesn't explain much of anything. Also, this is only a review of the one story of Carroll's, I'll review "Through the Looking-Glass" next likely since we are reading it separately.

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