Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2005.
Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love
Most people know of this classic children's story. Most people also cheapen Alice's journey through Wonderland by claiming the story is just one big acid trip. While it is fantastical and full of whimsy, the story of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is much more political and social commentary than it is an acid trip.
In sum, Alice, a little girl follows a rabbit down a rabbit hole. This leads her to a series of adventures that are hard to believe. For example, in one scene, Alice enters the rabbit's house and drinks a potion that causes her to grow so large, she sticks one hand out the chimney and a foot out the door. A cat with a Cheshire grin seems to float through the air because he can make parts of his body invisible at will. The story is dizzying and disorienting and makes almost no sense.
I enjoyed reading the book but I'll be the first to admit that fully appreciating this work is going to require that I do much more extensive research. A brief survey of the literature on this work points to Carroll indulging in a style called English nonsense verse that became fairly popular in his time. Carroll holds some scathing opinions about the English school system based on this tale and that is about as far as I've gotten with my research.
The edition that I read appeared to only contain the first part of the story (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) so I need to find the second half and read it (Through the Looking Glass) and continue to read more about how scholars have made sense (as much as one can with the genre) of the writing to feel like I truly "get" Carroll. I'm not yet a frenetic fangirl, but I am intrigued and will keep exploring.
Recommended for: a reader who has time to dedicate to really learning about the political and social discourse happening in these stories.
Not recommended for: readers who want a story that makes sense or readers not accustomed to searching for clues in writing. Someone who hates poetry, for example, would probably hate this.
3 darts out of 5
Kwoka, B. (2009). Literature, History, and Culture in the time of Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/carroll/kwoka8.html
(I know I'm mixing citation styles here but I primarily use APA but started this blog in MLA and try to stay consistent. Forgive me?)