Thursday, April 8, 2010

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-glass, by Lewis Carroll

Had to take a break from the stack of books Dad unloaded, er, gave me. This is one of those books that I always meant to read when younger but never got a round to it, (or round tuit, if you know what those are).

I tried to read through the introduction by Tan Lin, but like the conversations in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I found myself spinning around and just getting more confused. It felt like Lin was simultaneously reiterating her main point and never getting there. If the introduction was supposed to be absurdly nonsensical to match the actual text, then there was success, only in a much more dull fashion. Can you tell I'm not a literary critic? FAGH!

The stories are what you want to read. Don't go into it with any preconceptions, including those you may have from watching Disney's movie version, which I noticed has hit stores again recently.

In Adventures, Alice follows a white rabbit down its hole in an attempt to escape the boredom of her older sister's lessons. All the laws of physics, gravity, ecology and anything else that pertain to the real world are turned upside-down, backwards and otherwise topsy turvy. In Looking-glass, Alice steps into the world of her living room mirror, and ends up in an absurd chase over a giant chessboard complete with queens, kings, knights, and pawns.

I think I like Looking-Glass better. I’m especially fond of the knight who keeps falling off of his horse. He has all sorts of stuff packed on the horse, he’s prepared for just about anything, and despite his inability to ride he never fails to pick himself up and try again. He’s very courteous and a perfect gentleman. Throughout both stories, little puns and verbal misunderstandings accentuate the visual absurdities. I think kids could enjoy the fantasy and the adults the verbal jousting. Good fun but probably best in small doses, like a chapter at a time.


  1. The poetry in these books are fun for kids to memorize. My favorite is "Twas brillig and the slithy toves / were gyre and gimble in the wabe."

  2. Oh I loved how Lin explains the text. I understand the Alice series a lot better now. Have you read the part about the Jabberwock? That is the part I will share with my students next week as we keep learning about Heroes. Carrol really understood the confusion that kids face in their worlds. For instance, kids take everything literally and seriously. When I thought mom was going to bury me in the back yard when I was "grounded" for the first time I cried all the way home and then pleaded for forgiveness when I got there. She wondered why and I told her I didn't want to be buried in the back yard, or grounded. Carroll really shows through the adults how bossy they seem to be towards kids, too. Confused? Yes, just like kids are when they are new to this world and experiencing things for the first time.


Have you read this book? What did you think of it?


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