Friday, 25 November 2016

Book #65

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll


On an ordinary summer's afternoon, Alice tumbles down a hole and an extraordinary adventure begins. In a strange world with even stranger characters, she meets a rabbit with a pocket watch, joins a Mad Hatter's Tea Party, and plays croquet with the Queen. Lost in this fantasy land, Alice finds herself growing more and more curious by the minute.

Everyone knows this story, so I won't insult anyone's intelligence by trying to explain it all to you. Undoubtedly, the characters of the Disney film will be imprinted in your memory, making it entirely impossible to imagine the characters of Wonderland looking any different to how they were drawn for that. Unlike many book to film nightmares I've experienced, this phenomenon only created a sense of nostalgia, rather than frustration, when coursing my way through the pages.

Children's literature is a difficult feat. I've written before my thoughts on young readers' minds, and their capacity to hold, enjoy, and interpret so much more than many authors think them capable of. It's a real shame to place in front of them a novel that deals only with trivialised and dumbed down accounts of life. It's even worse to give them a story which only holds loud, patronising, and obvious moral messages in an attempt to make them a good person.

Carroll understood this. In Alice, he gives us a complex and confusing world which children will have to wrap their minds around. He gives us illogical nonsense within its pages, which will fill the readers with complete awe and (no pun intended) wonder. The colourful characters, their ridiculous reasoning, and the pace of Alice's adventures, have no doubt kept kids gripped for years.

Despite its renown for being a children's classic, there are many important sections to analyse here for adults. Admittedly, there's no real need to, as the story is wonderful on its own, but it's great to understand Carroll's hints towards growing up, politics, the law, and the monarchy. He gives us a clean exacted prose littered with word play and language twists, which, although entirely uninteresting to children, will cause the wordy adults amongst us to giggle with joy.

Yeah, he liked a bit of the old opium, as evidenced by the caterpillar smoking hookah on a magic mushroom, but thinking DRUGS whenever Wonderland is mentioned means discounting its merits. Carroll has created a story which transcends time, and has remained in our minds since the 19th century. Drugs, though.

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