MJ Nicholls's Reviews > Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
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's review
Jul 25, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, sassysassenachs, art-or-illustrated, pre-1900s, worshipped, oxford-classics
Read from July 25 to 27, 2011

I never had the sort of parents who sat reading Lewis Carroll to me as I drifted off to sleep. My parents weren’t crackheads or slovenly brutes, they simply had different kids books. So there. Adventures in Wonderland was the funniest of the two: it seemed madder, witter and sharper somehow, but Through the Looking-Glass is none two shabby either. It was fun to engage with the enormous critical debate around the books as I read, spurred on by the extensive endnotes and 40-page introduction, though the intrusive notes had me compulsively skimming back and forth between the text and the trivia throughout, driving me a little mad, as mad as a March Hare, in fact.

What struck me the most was how horrible everyone was to Alice, which is to be expected, I suppose, Alice being the sweet face of purity and all, but my God she gets hell from those Queens. Towards the end the combative nature of these Victorian hags made me a tad peeved, but then it’s all in good humour, and the humour abounded, and the magic shone. No other book has appealed to an age gap of 2 to 100 for over a century, so clearly this is a treasure, and sod all the bastardisations.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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Jasmine i didn't have parents like that easier but the library had the book and my sophmore poetry project was on it.

I prefer through the looking glass

message 2: by MJ (new) - rated it 5 stars

MJ Nicholls Wouldn't it've been easier to do a poetry project on poetry? Ah, your project was on the verses. 'Tis noble. The "third adventure" by Gilbert Adair is actually as good as these two by Carroll. Heretic, but true.

message 3: by Nate D (last edited Jul 28, 2011 07:22AM) (new)

Nate D I memorized Jabberwocky in middle school for something, and it's still there, toves, bandersnatch and all. Definitely poetry. And it's treatment of language in general seems pertinent to poetry, I guess.

Jasmine it was on the jabberwocky, the walrus and the carpenter, you are old father william and the one that starts "She’s all my fancy painted him".

@nate I was listening to a podcast earlier that was talking about what the jabberwocky proved about religion it was interesting. basically the argument was that the jabberwocky is about how words outside of meaning still carry enough of a veneer of meaning that we simply are fooled into believing what we are being told is true and meaningful.

message 5: by Nate D (last edited Jul 28, 2011 04:10PM) (new)

Nate D That's an interesting take, and true to some extent. But the meaning we hear in nonsense is also an encouraging sign of the flexibility and inexhaustibly of language. See for instance (it's fresh in my mind) the beautiful misuse and non-words in There is no Year.

message 6: by Nate D (new)

Nate D Of course, I guess the flipside of that (consistent with the podcast, maybe) is that people can get away with throwing around jargon and being believed. Hmmm...

Jasmine Oh I love the use of words in joyce I think language is really beautiful just the fact as you go along the separation between words becomes vague and shady and the story starts to meld in ways words weren't meant to. playing with language is much more interesting than playing with layers (aka house of leaves)

Jasmine Nate wrote: "Of course, I guess the flipside of that (consistent with the podcast, maybe) is that people can get away with throwing around jargon and being believed. Hmmm..."

yeah this was the idea they were saying words like knowing and powerful mean something in the human context so they can say "all powerful" and "all knowing" and pretend that these mean something in the divine context or moral "moral" it was very complicated but very interesting.

Lynne King I loved both books MJ, purely for their wit and madness. I read them as a child but I still enjoy browsing through them from time to time.

I think the reason I relate to these books is that I had (and still have unfortunately) a "horrible" elder sister so I was used to such individuals!

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