The Father of Nonsense
I’ve written about Lewis Carroll aka Charles Dodgson before, but this post is a mere celebration of his two books: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there”.
As a child I was always fascinated by the story of Alice in Wonderland and the possibility of entering such a dreamworld.
Everyone is familiar with Alice and her Wonderland: young and small, big and grownup either by bedtime story, Disney animation or if you only recently watched Tim Burton’s version. Everyone knows the beloved characters: the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, The Red Queen and her stolen tarts “Off with his head!”, the Mad Hatter and March Hare at their bizarre Tea-party.
I’ve always assumed it was just one big tale, but realized that Alice in fact went on two separate journeys: the first following the White Rabbit through the rabbit-hole and the second, climbing through the looking glass. But it is only on her second journey where we meet or hear about The Jabberwocky, The Garden of Live Flowers and Tweedledee and Tweedledum. I love the way Lewis uses unusual sports: croquet and chess in his stories. Through the looking glass’s structure is in fact based on a chess problem created by Lewis.
Alice i s one of the most beloved characters of English writing. A bright and inquisitive child, one boring summer afternoon she follows a white rabbit down a rabbit-hole. At the bottom she finds herself in a bizarre world full of strange creatures, and attends a very odd tea party and croquet match. This immensely witty and unique story mixes satire and puzzles, comedy and anxiety, to provide an astute depiction of the experience of childhood.
First published: 1865 & 1871
And perhaps I should also mention that her character was based on a real girl called Alice Liddell.
My favourite quote is this:
‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice. ‘You must be,’ said the Cat. ‘Or you wouldn’t have come here.’
So there you have it. Lewis Carroll’s creations are only for those mad enough to venture into his dreamworld.