Bookworm Gushing on Lewis Carroll

Hi, everyone. Haven’t done this in a while (blogging or gushing), but Alice in Wonderland has been a recent theme in my life:  I was involved in a Wonderland-themed fundraising gala that took over my life this week. The husband is reading the book on his brand-new smartphone, as the book is a freebie.  One of my facebook games I’m ashamed to be addicted to had a Mad Hatter theme this past week.   I’ve always loved Alice in Wonderland. I almost did that as a theme to my wedding (topsy turvy cakes… when done well, can be flat out amazing looking).  As far as movies go, I enjoy the animated version and I liked the Tim Burton movie after getting used to the concept. (I saw it at home; I would have hated it in 3D.)

Why is Alice so timeless? Why is it so beloved? I realize this is just my gushing session and everyone, from my preschoolers to the goth kids, love Wonderland a great deal.

  • Bucking the system.  Carroll wrote Alice in the Victorian age. Everything about the Victorian Era is prim and proper.  It’s not exactly a kid-friendly place. Carroll created a world where everything proper is on its head. Even references that 21st century folks don’t get (the rhymes and poetry especially) is a satire of the culture at the time.
    • Seriously, if you haven’t read the book, you should at least look up the poems. Especially the parody, “You are Old, Father William.” If you compare the original and the satire, the original is so stilted and blah. The satire is so child-like and hilarious. Bottom line: the Victorians needed to loosen up.
  • How many memorable characters are in this book? How could we possibly forget the tardy White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, the devious Queen of Hearts and her card soldiers, the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, and my personal favorite, the Cheshire Cat? In fact, correct me if I’m wrong, but Alice in Wonderland may be the most represented in Disney World.
  • The dialogue is hilariously ridiculous. Carroll also includes asides that make me smile. My favorite aside: “Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so surprised that for the moment she quite forgot to speak good English).
    • Husband: “I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed this hard reading a book!”
  • This book is really a series of mini-adventures.  It’s a style that a lot of books I adore follow (Phantom Tollbooth being a prime example). You don’t necessarily have to follow the entire story, it’s just a journey and snapshots of the crazy people she meets there.
  • Why my preschoolers love the story of Alice: It’s utterly fun and absolute nonsense.
  • Why the teenagers love it: the hookah smoking Caterpillar. It’s all psychedelic, man. (I think the vibrancy of the Disney movie AND the book is way ahead of its time.)
  • Why adults continue to turn to it when they need a party theme: the vibrancy of the story makes it a colorful and memorable theme; the nonsense of the story makes it fun;  plus, the idea of Wonderland brings us back to an innocence where we would drink something just because it isn’t labeled poison.

Not going to do a lot, but here’s some “Class stuff”: I can’t put a label on the book, but my class will have this in there. I may use it as a read-aloud if I need a time-filler.  While I can’t specifically remember when I first read the book,  I bought it at an airport bookstore when I was in high school. (So, I was a bit older when I actually read it, but I grew up loving the movie.) I think if younger readers want to tackle it, they can. They may have to be patient with the language and the jokes, but it’s okay. If they’re familiar with the cartoon (since Burton’s movie is a bit of a re-imagining) I think they’d be able to imagine the book a little better.  It may be one of those books that is written from a child’s perspective but adults appreciate it more. (I’ve heard that said about Phantom Tollbooth, so it wouldn’t surprise me if its inspiration is the same.)
When you are in the mood for stuff and nonsense, a satirical book that reminds you that we’re ALL mad here, Alice is a good book to go to.  I’m going to give it an A for the book that still has devout followers almost  a century and a half later.

Ed. note: Said Wonderland-themed gala was last night, and I’m tired. I am certain I left out reasons to love on Alice. If you have a reason you love Alice, a favorite line or character, be it from the book or movie, let’s hear it!  I’ve had “Painting the roses red” stuck in my head most of the night & some of today… I need some other scenes!

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Filed under Adventure, Fantasy, Just gushing!

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