April 29, 2013

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

I've never read any of the Alice In Wonderland books before.  I saw the movie, a long long time ago, and so it was faint in my memory.  Of which I'm glad, because this was almost like experiencing Alice anew and with the two stories in one book (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass) I got a whole bunch of wordplay, nonsense and riddles.

Alice, bored while sitting with her sister, notices a strange white rabbit and follows him through a hole where she soon finds herself surrounded by strange creatures and even stranger habits.  As she explores this world, everything is topsy turvy and Alice is the sole source of reason (and at times even she is just a little bit off).  Everyone has a riddle and a poem and Alice enjoys her explorations, even if she doesn't understand everything that is happening.  In Through the Looking Glass, Alice visits just as strange of a world as she steps through her mirror and into a giant Chess game where her only wish is to become a Queen.

Alice is an interesting little girl.  She takes everything that happens to her pretty easy and I can see why the introduction by Tan Lin in this edition says that she is becoming an adult without realizing it and that is why she is a source of reason.  It makes sense given her reactions and personality.  Everyone she meets has something to say, even if it isn't understandable and they are all quite zany.  I enjoyed the Cheshire Cat the most and he has some of the more quotable lines in the book.  But I did not enjoy the Mock Turtle, I found him dull and was glad when that particular part of the story ended.  But the majority of the character were endearing and unforgettable.

This is a pretty wild trip and it can go off on several tangents.  But the use of language is interesting and I like how the riddles are sometimes puns and that word choices are often misinterpreted on purpose.  It was very similar to "The Phantom Tollbooth" in its use of words sometimes, which is also a book I enjoy very much.  And you're constantly on the move with Alice, so excepting the scene with the Mock Turtle, you don't get bored in these books.  And really, I do think they should be read together, so I'm glad my edition combined the two.  I wasn't quite ready to stop reading about Alice's adventures after "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" so I read them both in one sitting.  I know this is a book geared towards kids, but I think adults can get a lot out of it too, and it may even be too tough for younger children or middle school aged children.  Although they can take it at face value for the fun characters.

I definitely see why this book is so popular and will have several of the verses stuck in my head for days.  But that's not a bad thing, and it puts a smile on my face.  A very nice classic book and with some editions (mine included) some beautiful illustrations are included just to further immerse you in Alice's world.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass
Copyright 1865 & 1871
286 pages

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