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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition (Annotated Alice)

4.49  ·  Rating Details ·  5,898 Ratings  ·  461 Reviews
For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1959, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is beloved by both families and scholars—for it was Gardner who first decoded many of the mathematical riddles and wordplay that lay ingeniously ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published November 17th 1999 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1959)
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Splintered by A.G. HowardThe Looking Glass Wars by Frank BeddorAlice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis CarrollSeeing Redd by Frank BeddorThrough the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Curiouser and Curiouser
7th out of 137 books — 215 voters
The Annotated Alice by Lewis CarrollThe Annotated Brothers Grimm by Jacob GrimmThe Annotated Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienThe Annotated Hans Christian Andersen by Hans Christian AndersenThe Waste Land by T.S. Eliot
Annotations & The Annotated
1st out of 81 books — 21 voters

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The IT Engineer's Lad

What is it inside this internet, I asked the young lad,
The computer expert replied,
Why Ma'am, it's web servers and routers,
And connections between computers,
That cannot ever be fried.

What lies on those servers then, I asked the young lad,
The boy gazing up now replied,
Oh Ma'am, blogs and e-mail, at night porn and streams,
Zombies and splatter and car chasing dreams,
What wonders out there can be spied?

Is your work very unbearable, I asked the young lad,
Most times, Ma'am, it is,
Jul 08, 2009 Bruce rated it it was amazing
This edition has an interesting and informative introduction in which Martin Gardner refers to “the Bible and all other great works of fantasy,” which amused me. The annotations to the text are often quite interesting if somewhat intrusive; I found it best to read all of them for a chapter before beginning to read the chapter itself, having them then in my knowledge base without having to be interrupted from the flow of the story. I enjoying all the punning. I had not realized that the songs wer ...more
Apr 06, 2007 Lynne rated it liked it
I recently saw a review where someone had read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, felt completely confused, and was basically told by all commenters that "Carroll was on Opium," as an explanation for the weirdness of the writing. I suggest that original poster, instead, pick up a copy of The Annotated Alice. Both Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass were essentially written for one person, Alice Liddell. Most of the references in the books that are completely odd are in- ...more
Dec 03, 2007 Daniel rated it really liked it
All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretence
Our wanders to guide.

Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale of breath too weak
To stir the tiniest feather!
Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?

Imperious Prima flashes forth
Her edict "to begin it":
In gentler tones Secunda hopes
"There will be nonsense in it!"
While Tertia interrupts the ta
Jul 11, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
I don't think I would have half the appreciation I now do for Lewis Carroll if it weren't for the annotations accompanying this edition of the text. Besides the grunt work of explaining Victorian terms and concepts now outdated (look up bathing machines for the example I found most strange), the annotations shed on light on the emotional dimension to the books, which seems like an absurd idea at first glance given that they're nonsense tales. But Lewis Carroll adored Alice Liddell -- innocently ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Mar 04, 2010 Audra (Unabridged Chick) rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This beautiful hardbound edition of both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is made heavenly by the inclusion of luxurious annotations, original illustrations by John Tenniel, and a long-lost chapter. Editor Gardner reprints acres of trivia provided by scholars and fans in the annotations, which range from definitions or contextual clues to (like suggested answers to the famous riddle "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?"). At times, the annotations seem a little indulgent (there ...more
Maggie Salisbury
Jan 17, 2016 Maggie Salisbury rated it it was amazing
Really wonderful. Illumines many Victorian commonplaces that aren't so commonplace today, and provides source material for Carroll's allusions. I felt as though I was taking a class with dozens of Carroll scholars whose opinions, insights, and guesses the editor, Martin Gardner, uses as annotations when original source material does not exist (and even when it does). The result is a feast of information and insightful literary criticism for the diehard Alice fan and a great reference for anyone ...more
Apr 20, 2014 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
What a delightfully odd story. I had never read either of the Alice stories before, though I am very familiar with both Disney adaptations. I went into it thinking they would be more symbolic than they ended up being, though it may just be that I need to give them another read through to really get at it and a better understanding of Carroll's time. (Though I gave the annotations some attention at first, I found they interrupted the flow of the stories, so after time I barely bothered with them. ...more
Terence Carlisle
The ultimate Alice. Brimming with fascinating side notes that help explicate some of the murkier jokes and shine a blazing spotlight on Carroll's full cleverness and wit. Adorned with beautiful reproductions of the classic Tenniel drawings. Heaven.

What an original Lewis Carroll was! There’s no one like him – his voice is unmistakable. The wit, the cleverness, the intellect and the sheer playfulness of the writing guarantees a good time is had by adults as well as children.

One thing that is compl
Jan 06, 2016 Marquise rated it really liked it
Alice was amongst the first tales I read, and even from the start I've had a complicated relationship with it. At first, it was too weird to me, everyone was so crazy and spoke so inintelligibly, and I couldn't for the little life of me understand what the accursed point of this bizarre book was supposed to be. Thankfully, I was young enough to consider myself satisfied with the pretty and colourful illustrations and call it a good read.

I reread it years later, and it was still weird as ever. Al
Nicky Penttila
Jun 25, 2014 Nicky Penttila rated it it was amazing
I've read "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" at least a dozen times, and noticed something new and intriguing each time, which is why it earns 5-stars. The annotations in this edition add even more.

Fantastic wordplay, satirical takes on then-famous poems, and illustrations that do double- and triple-duty add layers to a "kid-sized" story of adventure.

I love how the sentences challenge our assumptions of how language works, what metaphor, grammar, and style can do. Alice's rea
Emma Decker
Oct 31, 2013 Emma Decker rated it liked it
SPOILER ALERT Little Alice who is so bored of her older sister reading to her, finds a small rabbit hole and goes down to find the most wonderful and strange world she had ever seen. Along her journey she meets the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and not to forget the Cheshire Cat. Soon Alice discovers that wonderland is quite queer, and is soon changing size, chasing a White Rabbit, and trying to keep her head. What I love about this book is the strange characters and the personal ...more
Cecily Erker
Dec 05, 2009 Cecily Erker rated it it was amazing
I have an earlier edition of this book, but I'm still gonna review it. This book is basically Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, along with everything you could ever possibly want to know about its symbols, interpretations, historical context and underlying psychodynamics (like how the rabbit hole is apparently a vagina). A disturbing but plausible conspiracy theory introduced is that Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) may have mentally been a pedophile, but never committed any ...more
Jan 19, 2016 Nathan rated it really liked it
A *very* annotated version of the 2 Alice stories. Martin Gardner even states in the introduction that some of these notes are nearly full essays unto themselves. Many points he makes I believe were unconscious decisions on the part of Carroll, if not entirely coincidental. Still, a fascinating look at the connections between Lewis Carroll, his illustrator John Tenniel, and the real Alice, Alice Pleasance Liddell.

For those who love Alice in Wonderland (in any form) and who want to learn a few mo
Sam Whitehouse
Mar 06, 2014 Sam Whitehouse rated it it was amazing
I had to read this for University in order to write a short paper. Whilst i hate Alice in Wonderland as a book in itself, this companion/encyclopedia/critical aid was invaluable in understanding some of the crazy stuff that goes on in Carroll's book. I would never read this for pleasure, but as an academic resource it is very helpful.
Ruth Sophia
Feb 01, 2016 Ruth Sophia rated it really liked it
The Annotated Alice contains three works by Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, and The Wasp in a Wig. I will look at each of these in turn.

Tales, Not My Favorite; Scholarship, Top Notch

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

As I just saw Disney's movie based off the book for the first time a couple weeks ago, it was very fresh in my memory. I must say, I was rather impressed by the movie's accurate portrayal of the book, for the most part (t
Sara Conklin
Dec 06, 2015 Sara Conklin rated it it was amazing
Everything an Alice lover/Carrollian could want. The context and research gone into this edition is truly astounding
Dec 06, 2015 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
Here's my essay about Alice from The Chicago Tribune:

Anniversaries between people afford natural occasions for revisitations and reassessments, as do anniversaries between people and things. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, which was published in 1865, making this, 2015, the year of its sesquicentennial.

The book has never been out of print and each year brings new editions of—and books about—Alice
Oct 14, 2015 Grace rated it liked it
Shelves: language
I accessed this book through my local public library. I found the annotations easy to follow for the most part but I felt there could have been some more of them to satisfy my curiosity. It did help me see the story in a new light and it was nice to see notes on specific phrases that aren't in fashion any more. However, certain aspects of the story are heavily annotated and other parts not at all. This could be because so much has been written about Alice and Carroll over the years. It could sta ...more
Nov 08, 2014 Gail rated it really liked it
Well, that was fun!

I started reading Alice in Wonderland a few times as a child, but always stopped, because I didn't really like it - I got frustrated at all the things that didn't make sense (I know, it's not supposed to make sense, but as a child, I liked books that clarified the world, rather than obscure it!). But it's always been on my mind that I should read it all the way through as an adult, because whenever people talk about it, it sounds fun, and like it involves the kind of playing
Evanston Public  Library
Fans of the girl down the rabbit hole have much to celebrate this year. In addition to a new Tim Burton movie version of Through the Lookingglass, three glorious new editions of the original books are hitting the shelves in time for holiday giving.

The Annotated Alice has set the bar for Alice criticism since its debut in 1959. Martin Gardner's succinct explanations of the mathematical riddles,Victorian literary allusions and Oxford gossip hidden in this most perplexing of children's stories sud
This book is fantastic if you want to know the real meaning behind the nonsense in 'Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.'

April 26, 2009
I'm leading my book club discussion in May on Alice and I'm using this as my Bible.

May 12, 2009
I love all the tidbits and info this book contains...the explanation of the nonsense and all of the inside jokes.
Aug 25, 2007 Amy rated it it was amazing
This is the book that made me a reader. I remember hiding under the covers with a lamp so I could stay up a little later and keep reading. I got in a lot of trouble over this book. I also killed my vision. Fran recently brought me an annotated copy of this book from Oxford (England), where Carroll wrote the book. It is amazing!
Mar 30, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
If you like the story of Alice in Wonderland, you'll love all these extra tidbits from Martin Gardner, forerunner in literary Alice knowledge.

This annotated compilation includes both "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" with easy access notes along the margins. Having never read both books all the way through before, I found Carroll's inside jokes, mathematical puns, and general oddity that much more enjoyable with the reasons and origins behind his works readily available.

Be wa
Jan 04, 2012 Marc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
although fascinated by its immense historical significance and mathematical, logical and fantastical elements i didn't appreciate it as literature. wonderland is definitely the superior work, as the plotting of looking glass is tedious and forced, with its parade of disconnected episodes. i couldn't help disliking dodgson.
Sue Jackson
Mar 14, 2016 Sue Jackson rated it it was ok
This is such a large book and so difficult to review that I don't know where to begin. It had been a long time since I had read Alice in Wonderland and the 150th Anniversary edition seems to be the right time. I had forgotten how unusual this book had been and had memories of watching it performed in a play.

There were a lot of references throughout the book explaining what Carroll had been thinking or what was going on at the time. Some of those references were helpful but some just felt complet
Apr 21, 2014 Zoe rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens
I've already reviewed Alice in Wonderland, so this is really a review of Through the Looking glass.

This story is charming, if possibly slightly less coherent. There is a bit of a plot- Alice arrives at the chessboard and must get to the other side (8 squares) in order to be crowned queen. The chess metaphors are fantastic here, and moviegoers will appreciate the fact that parts of the Disney movie contain chunks of both stories (Tweedledum and Tweedledee are from Looking Glass).

The benefit of th
Grace Jensen
When Alice in Wonderland came up on our list, I was super excited, and then another person recommended this.

I have read Alice before, and the *extreme* annotation were a delight to have. With the first book, it was almost like I was being explained too much. But Through the Looking Glass was (imho) the superior book in purpose, structure, and symbolism. THAT I was thankful to have so many annotations for, it made it a wonderful experience.

It even addresses the outright accusations of Carroll's.
Christina Rau
Nov 13, 2015 Christina Rau rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-s-books
I wish the footnotes weren't so distracting and teeny tiny. Some of them were really intriguing, but lots of them were overdone. However, this was the first real time I read Alice In Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass straight through, so that made me feel accomplished.
Jan 19, 2016 Kinksrock rated it it was amazing
I don't think any modern reader should pick up any edition other than the annotated version. The jokes and puns are from another era and require explanation. The editor explains that the books themselves and this edition are not for kids anymore, and, in all honesty, it's not pleasurable to read them when you require constant explanations to be let in on the joke. It's like when someone tells you a joke, and you sit stone-faced while they explain why it's funny. But, nonetheless, the annotations ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Two Book Editions Are One 10 19 Dec 19, 2014 06:52PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Possible Wrong ISBN? 7 17 Dec 19, 2014 03:28PM  
  • The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
  • The Annotated Secret Garden
  • The Annotated Brothers Grimm
  • The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen
  • All Things Alice: The Wit, Wisdom,and Wonderland of Lewis Carroll
  • The Other Alice: The Story of Alice Liddell and Alice in Wonderland
  • The Annotated Peter Pan
  • The Annotated Huckleberry Finn
  • In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll
  • The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Short Stories
  • The Light Princess and Other Fairy Stories
  • The Classic Fairy Tales
  • The Space Child's Mother Goose
  • Alice in Sunderland
  • Hexaflexagons and Other Mathematical Diversions
  • The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics
  • Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
  • Lewis Carroll in Numberland: His Fantastical Mathematical Logical Life
The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer.

His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass as well as the poems "The Hunting of the Snark" and "Jabberwocky", all considered to be within the genre of literary nonsense.

More about Lewis Carroll...

Other Books in the Series

Annotated Alice (4 books)
  • The Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, And, Through the Looking-Glass
  • More Annotated Alice: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass
  • The Annotated Alice: 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

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“Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves.” 196 likes
“Her constant orders for beheading are shocking to those modern critics of children's literature who feel that juvenile fiction should be free of all violence and especially violence with Freudian undertones. Even the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, so singularly free of the horrors to be found in Grimm and Andersen, contain many scenes of decapitation. As far as I know, there have been no empirical studies of how children react to such scenes and what harm if any is done to their psyche. My guess is that the normal child finds it all very amusing and is not damaged in the least, but that books like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz should not be allowed to circulate indiscriminately among adults who are undergoing analysis.” 20 likes
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