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Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

Author: Lewis Carroll
Originally Published: 1865
Edition I Read Published: 1992
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Source: Purchased

The Story

Alice's Adventures in WonderlandFrom the Chapters website:

Bored on a hot afternoon, Alice follows a White Rabbit down a rabbit-hole – without giving a thought about how she might get out. And so she tumbles into Wonderland: where animals answer back, a baby turns into a pig, time stands still at a disorderly tea party, croquet is played with hedgehogs and flamingos, and the Mock Turtle and Gryphon dance the Lobster Quadrille. In a land in which nothing is as it seems and cakes, potions and mushrooms can make her shrink to ten inches or grow to the size of a house, will Alice be able to find her way home again?

The Response

This is one of my childhood favourites. On Friday night when John was studying for exam, I wanted to spend the evening with something I loved. So I decided that a reread of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was in order.

There is definitely controversy surrounding this book – both the claims that the book is about drugs, and about Carroll’s unhealthy relationship with the girl Alice is based on. Rereading this, I can understand why people would think that it’s about drug usage, but I don’t personally see it. To me, it really looked a lot more like childish fantasy than drugs.

As far as the whole paedophilic theories… well, it does add a huge dark overtones to the book. So while at times it seemed just as wonderful and lovely and mad as I remembered it, at other points it was a little disturbing. What seems like a lovely story that Carroll wrote the story for his boss’s daughter, knowing that he may have been attracted to and aroused by this ten year old girl… erm. Gross.

It sometimes bothers me that I love Lewis Carroll’s writing so much. The madness of his writing suits the story well and really helps to evoke the feeling that is Wonderland. But then I remind myself that this is based on a girl he may or may not have had been all paedophilish about. Ick.

I’ve had to rewrite this review a couple of times just because of this. This is still one of my favourite books, and I’ve tried very hard to write the rest of the review based solely on the work itself, and not based on the author. Here I am trying to be objective, which is what I would do for a contemporary author, so I really needed to extend that habit towards an author of the classics too.

I hadn’t read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in so long that although I didn’t forget specific events, I had definitely gotten parts of various movies and other media mixed up in my mind. And since I only read the first book this time around, I’m not sure if some of the things I’m remembering have happened in the second book, or just movies. Definitely means that I’m going to have to read Through the Looking-Glass soon.

The characters are written and developed really well – Alice is so innocent and child-like, and has the perfect curiosity and wonder needed for a jaunt through Wonderland. The people/animals/whatever that Alice meets are all a lot of fun too – there certainly aren’t any boring characters. Whether it’s the Mock Turtle, the Queen of Hearts, or the White Rabbit, they are all so interesting and add so much amusement and charm to the story.

Carroll keeps driving through the story and paced it well, even as we are just going on a ramble through the woods with Alice. There’s always so much to see in this book, that it keeps the reader’s attention piqued the whole time and keeps them reading.

I think, rereading this as an adult, it was easy to see that it still really stands up to be read by different age groups – it’s not just enjoyable for children. The humour, the wit, it definitely works well for older readers as well, and in some cases may be more humourous for adults.

So there’s me being objective about a book that I love whose author gives me the heebee-jeebees.

The Bottom Line

I still really love this book, even though sometimes my ickiness towards the theory the author was a paedophile gets in the way of truly enjoying this book. That said though, I’m so looking forward to revisiting Through the Looking-Glass as well.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 7:17 am April 28, 2014.
Category: Children's
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  • Jenn vanOosten

    Do you know, I’ve never actually read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland! I should put it on my list, and keep my eyes open for a copy at a thrift store so that it’s on my shelf when the mood strikes. :)