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BOOK REVIEW - LEWIS CARROLL - ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND / THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (1928) Penguin Books and others.   

 

One of the best loved of all children’s books, - actually two short novellas, but nowadays commonly marketed in one volume. Alice,  (believed to be Alice Liddel, who knew Lewis in her childhood) falls asleep and dreams of a mysterious adventure in a land where logic and reason are turned upside down. Animals talk and wear clothes. Playing Cards literally form up in armies. Nursery rhyme characters come to life. A Cheshire cat can become invisible, leaving only its smile behind. Alice tries to maintain reason and common sense in a world that has none.  Even her own body behaves mysteriously. Having taken a strange food and drink to get into the portal door between her World and Wonderland, Alice now grows into a giant, or shrinks to a minute size at the most inconvenient of times.  This gets her put on trial for her life by the Queen Of Hearts, a woman who will not tolerate any nonsense, and executes people on the slightest excuse.  Alice has already upset the Queen during a game of Croquet in which flamingos are used for bats and hedgehogs for balls.  The story is a basis for many poems and strange tales, especially the Jabberwocky poem that has strange distorted spelling, but nevertheless tells a dark edged story of a knight fighting an evil dragon. More absurd is the Walrus and The Carpenter, a tale related in verse by the fat Twins, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. It tells of a Walrus and Carpenter teaming up to trick the oysters into coming to a party, unaware that they, the oysters, are the main course at the evening meal.  Alice also meets The Mad Hatter who keeps a tea party going on almost all year round to celebrate the days that are not his birthday.  There is wonderful invention at work here, Humour and some genuine terror too.  Alice Returns to Wonderland in the sequel, literally going through the Looking Glass to find herself used as a pawn in a living game of chess that uses the whole of Wonderland as its board.  Fantastic characters, and situations, in a book, or pair of books, that few could ever tire of reading and re-reading. http://www.sabian.org/alice.htm

 

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