‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes – and ships – and sealing-wax –
Of cabbages – and kings –
And why the sea is boiling hot –
And whether pigs have wings.’
Alice. The smiling Cheshire cat. The White Rabbit. The Queen of Hearts. The Jabberwocky. It seems like I grew up with these characters, and yet I had never sat down and read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass in their entirety, as they were written by Lewis Carroll.
So, it was about time to remedy that.
There’s not really a need to review Alice in Wonderland. It’s the epitome of a classic novel and is already extremely well loved (and rightly so). But I did want to share a few thoughts and favorite passages.
Many authors cite Lewis Carroll as a source of inspiration, and there’s no question as to why. The imagination, wit, and adventure in his work is extraordinary. I love how completely quirky everything in Wonderland is. You can sort of feel your imagination growing as you read it. (As if you ate a little cake that said ‘eat me.’) Suddenly everything seems possible. That’s special.
I also want to note how much I adore the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. They are perfect and fantastic, and I’m glad they’re still the standard illustrations for most editions. I do not take kindly to the illustrations being changed in children’s literature to keep them more “modern.” For example, the new illustrations in the Ramona books are generic and horrid. (Ramona looks like this. And sometimes like this. Not like that.)
My book club is reading both works for our March selection, and I’m hoping to have time to read the notes in my copy of The Annotated Alice before the discussion.
“Oh, it’s too bad!” she cried. “I never saw such a house for getting in the way! Never!”
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
“The Knight looked surprised at the question. “What does it matter where my body happens to be?” he said. “My mind goes on working all the same. In fact, the more head-downwards I am, the more I keep inventing new things.”