Sunday, February 9, 2014
Wondering about Wonderland
I've probably seen the Disney Alice in Wonderland about a hundred times starting when I was too young to be aware of it (but I remember that when I was a small child I'd listen to my heartbeat in my ears at night when it was very quiet and be afraid that it was the sound of the cards marching to catch me and cut off my head). In spite of having Alice in my life for all of my life, I'd never read the books before now. When I was out shopping for Christmas presents a couple of months ago I found a pretty little edition of the books for a good price so I decided that it was about time to expand my understanding of wonderland.
What a mistake that was - it's all stuff and nonsense. You can't understand it, you can only go along for the ride.
It is, however, a very pleasant little ride. I think I liked Adventures in Wonderland better than Through the Looking Glass, but both were charming. Carroll's interpretations of storybook characters are frequently adorable and only sometimes tedious. The poetry is usually very funny. What isn't funny is either dull or downright terrifying (that Jabberwock illustration is haunting).
I sort of wish I felt more about these books now that I've read them. They are very silly, and I tend to like silly things, but this reading left me just a bit cold. Part of this is almost certainly the exposure to the Disney version, which cherry-picks the best parts of the story and leaves out anything that doesn't fit into a story. I guess I was expecting more story and less silly, and I'm a little sad that the silliness is most of the substance of the work.
There are some fantastic puns, though, and I can almost always get behind a good pun.
Read happy, and look out for Jabberwocks,
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Barnes and Noble. New York, New York. 2012.
Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking-Glass. Barnes and Noble. New York, New York. 2012.