Monday, September 13, 2010
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
On with the challenge! The 3rd of the C's.
I was really pleased when I saw that Lewis Carroll's classic was on the list. I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland multiple times and never failed to be enchanted by the little girl's adventures in that strange and wondrous place or the breadth of Carroll's incredible imagination.
It's all nonsense, and you know that from the time a bored Alice sees a large white rabbit remove a pocket watch from his waistcoat and consult it before taking off in great haste down a rabbit hole, that you are in for a wild ride.
There is a dreamlike quality to many of the things that happen as Alice wanders through Wonderland trying to make sense of it all. It is explained as a dream when Alice wakes up alongside the river with her big sister, to whom she relates the tale of her 'dream'.
Many of the attempts to bring this to screen tend to ignore the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, which is a great shame, because I find that their chapters contain some of the best imagery in the entire book, they also have some of the best nonsensical verse, although I felt Carroll reached new highs on that score in the sequel Through the Looking Glass.
The book, although written for children, has something to be enjoyed by adults and children alike, and stands up to repeated rereadings. It's stood the test of time very well, I find it's best enjoyed reading a version that contains John Tenniel's original drawings. These flesh out the sparse descriptions that Carroll gives, and have been the basis for any other visuals that have been produced based on the book, including Disney's animated version and the recent Tim Burton sequel.
For reading on a similar theme there's the sequel Through the Looking Glass, where Alice returns to Wonderland. Terry Pratchett seems to be able to make the most nonsensical concepts sound plausible in his Discworld series and Douglas Adams HItchhiker's Guide books contain some of the most inspired lunacy since Carroll passed away.