Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Book Review
Come Down the Rabbit Hole and See What Alice Sees
This is a tale that begins on a bank, next to a sister, the sister of the heroine of our tale, Alice. More wondrous still is that this book has no ending, not really. It is still being read, interpreted by actors, performed on stage, written about (as here), and even the makers of movies are, to this date, still quite fascinated by this well known tale of Alice and the white rabbit who speaks to itself, wears a waistcoat, and attempts to stay on time, though never really seems to accomplish this.
The essence of the story is of a smart, curious young girl who enters -and then falls further down a rabbit hole. Only this rabbit hole has doors, furniture, and all sorts of curious oddities that a rabbit hole generally ought not have. (But who can say, really, unless one has already been down at least half a dozen other rabbit holes!) Maybe Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane could advise us.
The illustrations for the version I'd read, by Thomas DeCoster, are, alas, underwhelming. They are mundane and even a bit amateurish. They are simply nothing like the original edition of Alice in Wonderland, which was illustrated by the author, Lewis Carroll, along with other illustrations by John Tenniel.
The tale is highly fanciful to the point of being quaint -as where Alice's neck grows hyperbolically long -so much so that her head ascends far into the air, making young Alice question her feet: "Who will put on your shoes and stockings for you now, dears?" (p. 15)
The story makes a nice metaphor for "losing oneself," for no longer identifying with one's surroundings -and even one's own mind, though it's doubful that Lewis Carroll intended this notion, per se. This loss of cognizance is seen where Alice thinks she might be someone else -her friend Mabel, perhaps. Further, she is not only silly in such notions, but even defeatist when she staes "If I'm Mabel, I'll stay down here [in the rabbit hole]." (p. 18)
Reading the tale, whether for the first time or as a second or fiftieth reading is refreshing as we learn that it it not merely the famous bottle of liquid that reads "Drink me" that changes Alice's size, but also a hand-held fan. This is but one of many easily forgotten oddities that spark such great curiosity and wonderment in readers of all ages, keeping Alice in Wonderland a constant favorite through the years. Also mentioned in this timeless tale are bathing machines, the English Coast, and William the Conqueror; all are colorful hallmarks of British history and British identity.
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (the pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) is a wondrous, fanciful, story of delirious images. It is not only memorable in the public consciousness, but also presents a plurality of images and ideas, idioms and phrases which the average person will find absolutely delightful. When you read Alice in Wonderland, you'll want to do so again and again. As well, one can be thankful that there is a sequel, really an anomolie for the time, called Through the Looking Glass. Enjoy.
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