A Magical Adventure in a Bizarre World

Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

I was scanning the Internet looking for some pictures that I could put up on this commentary (if only because commentaries with pictures seem to get more likes than those without, and I do hope people like my commentaries, or at least make them think) when I came across this.



All I can say is that she must really love Alice in Wonderland if she is going to get them tattooed onto her body. I could go off onto a digression regarding tattoos, and while I do like tattoo art, to me they are a little bit too permanent, which means that I would rather keep myself tattoo free, and I am generally put off by women who have large tattoos on them (especially the ones that are appearing across chests). Anyway, I am going to resist the temptation to write any further about tattoos namely because I want to write about Alice in Wonderland.

These days, and I know I am included in this, when we think about Alice in Wonderland we tend to think about this:




I would be the first to admit that I loved Tim Burton's film, and in fact I own a copy of it myself, but it really isn't Alice in Wonderland, but rather a vastly different story that combines the two books and has a more Hollywood style plot to it (namely kill the Jabberwock and defeat the evil Queen of Hearts). This, however, is not the classic story written in the mid nineteenth century. The original story is basically nonsense, and I am sure Lewis Carrol admits that himself (which, mind you, is not his real name, but I cannot remember it off the top of my head at the moment – Charles Dodgson – thankyou Wikipedia).

I haven't read too many commentaries about this book, but one that I have read does come to mind and that is about the absurdity of modern mathematics. This argument was that since Dodgson was a Mathematician working at Oxford he was seeing the advancement and changes in mathematics first hand and was worried at where it was headed so he wrote this book as a warning against it. Personally, after reading the book myself, I think that argument is rubbish.

What I see in Alice in Wonderland is what one could say is the very first children's book. Dodgson loved children (in a rather disturbing way that is, but the less said about that the better) and thus he wrote a book that was basically targeted at them. It is simply a story of a young girl (modelled on one of his 'friends', Alice Liddel, the daughter of the Liddel who created the much used Liddel and Scott Greek Lexicon) who goes on a strange adventure in a bizarre world.

Mind you, it all turns out to be a dream, but it was a rather strange dream anyway. You will note that the main protagonists are all cards, and the structure of the royal court is that the spades are gardeners, the clubs are soldiers, the diamonds are courtesans, and the hearts are members of the royal household. It is interesting that it is a matriarchal society, but then since we are in the middle of the Victorian age, and that England was ruled by a Queen, then having this reflected in the strange world of Alice is not surprising.

Alice in Wonderland did end up setting the scene for many of the children's books that came afterwards – the fairy tale worlds, the gorgeous pictures, and the rather simplified storytelling. Children had been made the focus of stories before hand, such as in Charles Dickens, but I would not consider his works to be considered children's books (though 'Tales of Shakespeare', which does predate this, does write the stories of Shakespeare in a way that children can appreciate them – so maybe that was the first children's book. Charles Dickens seems to lament the state of England for the poor city dwelling boy, where as Caroll takes the child on a magical journey through a wondrous land where she can observe but not get caught up, and when danger does strike, she suddenly wakes up with a bolt.

The development continued with Mark Twain and his stories about a couple of boys on the Mississippi: I would generally consider those books to be children's books as well, though I suspect that they will be aimed more at the older boys that the general children that this book has appealed to. I have also noted that, namely by looking at many of the pictures on the internet, that Disney had quickly swiped the rights to this story, though I suspect that since it is now in the public domain, that anybody can fiddle with it.



Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/620851137