Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Louis Carroll

In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps the most popular heroine in English literature.
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In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps the most popular heroine in English literature. Countless scholars have tried to define the charm of the Alice books–with those wonderfully eccentric characters the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum, and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter et al.–by proclaiming that they really comprise a satire on language, a political allegory, a parody of Victorian children’s literature, even a reflection of contemporary ecclesiastical history. Perhaps, as Dodgson might have said, Alice is no more than a dream, a fairy tale about the trials and tribulations of growing up–or down, or all turned round–as seen through the expert eyes of a child.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was published in 1865, three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat, on 4 July 1862 (this popular date of the "golden afternoon" might be a confusion or even another Alice-tale, for that particular day was cool, cloudy and rainy), up the Isis with the three young daughters of Henry Liddell (the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church): Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849) ("Prima" in the book's prefatory verse); Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852) ("Secunda" in the prefatory verse); Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853) ("Tertia" in the prefatory verse).

The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. During the trip the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest.

To add the finishing touches he researched natural history for the animals presented in the book, and then had the book examined by other children—particularly the children of George MacDonald. He added his own illustrations but approached John Tenniel to illustrate the book for publication, telling him that the story had been well liked by children.


Customer Reviews

  • Lucia Stuff, 7/21/2014:

    I can’t blame readers—especially from the generation I’m a part of—who claim Lewis Carroll is smoking pot or whatever while writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Time and again it’s been dismissed as a childish literary nonsense, a bunch of imagery that has the same appeal as a cheap, colorful ice lolly when it comes to kid’s tastes. While I’m more on the team of readers who think the story’s mostly symbolism, I don’t go so far as to analyze every single bit of picture as an immensely significant political symbol or anything. Admittedly, though, I did try to spot shades of Carroll’s being a mathematician and how a church became an inspiration for the book.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this book along with its successor, Through the Looking Glass. The chess and playing cards analogies are well-executed, and the anthropomorphic characters, while seemingly two-dimensional and cardboard-like, are actually interesting in some way. And if we’re going to talk about morals, you don’t have to squint to see them—they’re right under your nose, plain and simple.

    The art is extremely commendable. I have a penchant for gothic-styled illustrations and whatnots, and this is probably the epitome of said style, at least in a book this short. Now, I only read this book in a few hours slumped in a comfy couch in Powerbooks, but I really wish I could buy it (it costs a bomb, I tell you, but if I’ve had enough bucks back then I probably would’ve bought it). I only discovered the artist when a friend linked a video of “the making” of the book’s illustrations, from drafts and initial sketches to the finished product. Really amazing. However, Alice as portrayed in the text is innocent and curious—a regular child. The art may be misleading, but if you’re a fan or a collector of the Alice books, this is definitely for you.

    I love how the spirit of this book is still largely alive nowadays, spawning several spin-offs, modern flicks (the latest of which is Tim Burton’s take on it, where Alice comes back to wonderland/underland as a nineteen-year-old girl) and several other books (i.e. the amazing Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor).

  • Adam Mosbey, 7/21/2014:

    We all know what happened to poor Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole? Or do we? This is definitely not Disney's Alice in Wonderland or Tim Burton's wickedly awesome version of the tale. This is it... the real deal.

    I've been meaning to read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for a few years now (you'd think I would've read it as a child, but nope, back then I was into Stephen King haha) and I chose this edition in particular because I fell in love with Camille Rose Garcia's illustrations. With it's fun-shaped narratives and two-page, colorful layouts scattered throughout. Originally I thought it was a shorter version of the novel, but to my joy and delight, it was the full story, so this is definitely one that I'm showcasing in my bookshelf at the moment.

    As for the story, well, it's complete nonsense of course, but that's the great thing about it. There are talking cats who disappear all but their grin. There are sneezing babies that turn into pigs. There are mock turtles, dodobirds, gryphons and hookah-smoking caterpillars. There is painting the roses red, a queen who won't think twice before yelling "off with his/her head", there are dormouse's with sleeping disorders who hang with nutty hatters and crazy hares. Oh, and did I mention Alice's problem with height... yea, the poor girl.

    Jibberish I tell you. But that's the fun of it. I would call it an organized mess. There really is no rhyme or reason to it, and that's exactly what makes it such a delight to read. Very imaginative, colorful and amusing - and I personally could not help feeling "curiouser and curiouser". I read it rather quickly too, as it's not very long.

    All in all, this was a very peculiar read, one that I can say is fun, whimsical and a classic that should be read at least once in your life.

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