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#67 Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

In Lewis Carroll's classic children's novel, Alice Little falls down a rabbit hole and emerges in a strange world. Here, she will find AliceWonderlandherself chasing a white rabbit, rapidly shrinking and growing, listening to the advice of a hooka smoking caterpillar, attending a mad tea party, and finally participating in a croquet match hosted by the murderous Queen of Hearts.

Alice in Wonderland is a classic children's book that I did not read while I was still in the intended audience. Instead, my main memories of the story will always be associated with the beautifully animated Disney movie of the same name. I was inspired to pick up the audiobook after listening to a podcast hosted by The History Chicks. While listening to the audiobook (which was quite shorter than expected, only about four hours long), I couldn't help but wonder how I would have reacted to the novel had I read it as a child. I suspect I would have become impatient with the rambling, aimless nature of the story, something which occasionally tried my patience as an adult. At the same time, I m sure I would have been more accepting of the nonsensical tone of the novel. As someone used for trying to find patterns and meaning in text, I at first found myself wondering what certain aspects of the novel were really about. It wasn't until about halfway through that I let myself just embrace the pure craziness of Alice's story, and accept it for what it was, a bizarre adventure starring a confused girl.

One thing that I did find interesting about this book was the ending (which I don't really consider a spoiler given how old this book is. If you are more sensitive then I am, best to skip this paragraph). Here, Alice wakes up and realizes that her adventures were a dream. As someone who has often been frustrated at the far too logical and linear appearance of dreams in books and other forms of popular media, I couldn't help but be impressed at it's presentation here. Alice in Wonderland is probably (to me at least) one of the more accurate depiction of dreams I've encountered: rambling and illogical with a habit of jumping from one topic to the next.

Alice and Wonderland is one of the most influential children's novel in the western world, and it's impact can be seen all over pop culture. Speaking as a modern reader experiencing the book for the first time, I found it to be an enjoyable little read. I suspect that I will read the second Alice book, Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found there, in the future.

Rating: four stars
Length: 96 pages
Source: overdrive media console
Other books I've read by this author: this is my first

Next I will be reviewing Madam Xanadu vol 2: Exodus Noir by Matt Wagner and Among Others by Jo Walton

xposted to temporaryworlds, bookish, and goodreads


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 30th, 2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
I had really mixed feeling about this book, too. I mean, on the one hand, I think Carroll has an amazing talent for language but on the other hand, it was so hard to follow a lot of it. The humor was very dated, I thought and I think that in some ways, it doesn't really qualify as a "children's" book per say anymore. Mainly because I think kids would just get so lost but at the same time, it's so fanciful, it IS children's literature, and it's a child protagonist.

I don't know; I'm just so torn about if I actually liked this book or not.
Jul. 31st, 2012 05:32 am (UTC)
I've been reading the Alice books to my 4 yr old, and he quite likes them.

Honestly, they're a lot like the kinds of stories parents make up for their kids (only somewhat better)--like, "...and then the doggie met a frog! And they went for a ride on a train!" The lack of an overarching plot in the Alice books seems to suit the little guy just fine, given that he tends to fall asleep in the middle of a chapter, anyway, and no matter where I pick up the book, it doesn't really matter if he remembers the previous bit.

Sometimes it does just go on for too long for his taste, though, eg, the falling scene.
Jul. 31st, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
This is interesting, because I feel children have a better tolerance for nonsense than adults too. Perhaps that makes Alice more approachable for them at times.

Also, it has a classic children's novel plot: child finds themselves whisked away to a magical world, much like Narnia, Peter Pan, and even contemporary novels like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. So I still consider it to be children's literature, although not necessarily for every child.
Jul. 31st, 2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
I skip over the beheading bits. They would seriously disturb him.
Jul. 30th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
yes, this is the one book for which waking up and finding it was all a dream was not a cop-out but an actual justification of events.
Jul. 31st, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Normally, I'm not a fan of that ending but it worked really well here.
Jul. 30th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
Personally I enjoyed Through the Looking Glass more than Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland. Though I do really like both stories I found the ending of the second one quite intriguing and mind-boggling. Plus Through the Looking Glass seemed more like a quest than random wanderings as most of the story occurs on a chessboard. Lewis Carroll certainly has an imagination far beyond the rest of us! Brilliant stories!
Jul. 31st, 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
There were several years between them. Wonderland was written when Alice Liddell was a child. Looking Glass was written when she was nearly an adult. Dodgson was saying goodbye to the young girl who enjoyed such odd stories in Looking Glass.
Aug. 1st, 2012 01:27 am (UTC)
Oh wow! That's really interesting and a little sad.
Aug. 1st, 2012 01:30 am (UTC)
Yeah. I'm a repository of Liddell trivia, because she's one of the people I was named after. She's a third cousin twice removed, or something. Distant relative, but a relative nonetheless.
Aug. 1st, 2012 09:59 am (UTC)
That's awesome! Possessing all the knowledge that you do, what do you think of Alice in Wonderland films? Is there a particular one that you think really captures what Carroll was trying to convey?
Aug. 2nd, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
I actually haven't seen the Tim Burton one, which I'm told is good.

The one that comes closest, in my view, is this miniseries that aired in the '80s, with this very innocent kid playing Alice interacting with live actors in foam costumes. I remember I was terrified of the caterpillar, and the Red Queen made me cry. The miniseries included both stories, and I haven't been able to find a copy anywhere. Not that I've looked too hard; I'm afraid it won't live up to my young memory.

The Disney version always made me mad. It sanitized it to the point where it's unrecognizable.

I also like Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland, but only because it's so wrong on so many levels, and most certainly not what Dodgson intended. It's obviously not trying to faithfully recreate the story.
Aug. 2nd, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)
Really? Despite being a Tim Burton fan, I did not like his version all that much.

I like the idea of the one from the 80's combing both stories! That sounds awesome! And foam costumes are always the best!

Thanks for the insights!
Aug. 2nd, 2012 11:54 pm (UTC)
People rarely recommend the things I would actually like. I've learned to take recommendations with a grain of salt. So, I'm willing to believe it's as terrible as the previews looked. Though, the trippy, scary vibe does appear to have been captured.
Aug. 4th, 2012 02:34 pm (UTC)
I agree! Yeah, it's quite trippy...but there is something missing and I have not been able to figure out what!
Aug. 4th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
From what I'm told, Alice is no longer very Victorian, and the story isn't really about her. Also, while bizarre and menacing, the residents of Wonderland were rarely openly hostile, and when they were, she ran away, in the original story. Turning her into some Joan of Arc clone is odd.

Now, I'm basing my opinion on what other people have described to me, and what I saw in the previews. Maybe it wasn't as bad as all that. But still, the original story was an exploration by a girl who was frequently confused by a world with such different rules about how things worked. To have her taking up arms against that world seems to miss the point by a wide margin.
Jul. 31st, 2012 12:37 pm (UTC)
Oh really? That's intriguing! I'm looking forward to reading it now.
Aug. 10th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
No, what you've heard is correct from my perspective. Since Alice is returning to Wonderland in the film it focuses more on her regaining a sense of wonder and growing into a warrior than a girl's adventure in a satirical, confusing world. I really did not like Alice turning into a warrior or taking over her father's business at the end. Although I'm for women's rights and all.... when you mess with history in a movie I do not really like it. There is no way a Victorian girl would run into battle or be allowed to take over a business! And no, none of the animals are really hostile. They all want to team up with Alice to take down the Red Queen. It is an interesting film at times and the visuals are really well done. However I was undecided about whether or not I liked it for the longest time. I still have not really decided, but I find I have more issues with the film than things that I like.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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