Tuesday 17 October 2017

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through The Looking-Glass - Lewis Carroll

This selection of Carroll's works includes Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, both containing the famous illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. No greater books for children have ever been written. The simple language, dreamlike atmosphere, and fantastical characters are as appealing to young readers today as ever they were.

Meanwhile, however, these apparently simple stories have become recognised as adult masterpieces, and extraordinary experiments, years ahead of their time, in Modernism and Surrealism. Through wordplay, parody and logical and philosophical puzzles, Carroll engenders a variety of sub-texts, teasing, ominous or melancholy. For all the surface playfulness there is meaning everywhere. The author reveals himself in glimpses.

What did I think?

Alice in Wonderland is one of my favourite books from my youth; it is both timeless and ageless and well worth a read every now and again to escape into Wonderland.  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an exceptional story full of wackiness and crazy characters.  I'm not as keen on the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass; it's good but it's not great and I'll explain why I think that in a moment.

`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice

Everyone knows the story of Alice in Wonderland and I'm always fascinated by Alice's trust in eating and drinking strange things that make her grow or shrink.  Although Alice meets strange characters, likewise the strange characters don't know who or what Alice is, as evidenced by the caterpillar smoking his hookah and blowing smoke rings whilst asking Alice: 'Whooooo are youuuuu?'  I don't want to know what he's smoking!  There is so much to love in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as we tiptoe through Alice's dream with her: the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the Red Queen, the Cheshire Cat - all our favourites are here.

`it’s always tea-time'

This is where I struggle with Through the Looking-Glass as my favourite characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland only have cameo roles, those who do make a reappearance that is.  I still think it's quite ingenious as it's based around a game of chess with the characters forming the chess pieces, but it doesn't capture my interest as much as its prequel.  Perhaps if I was a chess fan I would enjoy it more, but it's always been a game that bores me which is why Looking-Glass tries and fails to hold my attention for more than one or two chapters at a time.

`and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’

If you're going to read Alice, you really must choose a book with the original Tenniel illustrations.  They capture the essence of Wonderland so perfectly and readers have known and loved theses illustrations since Alice in Wonderland was first published in 1865.

`but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.’

For it's age, this is a story that will never get old and you're never too old to read it.

`Off with their heads!’

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

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