The week before reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland I read The Migraine Brain in which I learned that Lewis Carroll was a migraine-with-aura suThe week before reading Alice's Adventures in Wonderland I read The Migraine Brain in which I learned that Lewis Carroll was a migraine-with-aura sufferer. Migraines muddle thinking and reduce concentration. And for him, a migraine meant distorted vision. Disproportional Alice. Tall and small Alice. Strange tastes. Odd sights and sounds. Mixing up words. All inspired by migraines. Without knowing this, my experience of his most famous work would have been very different.
Carroll's preface is illuminating. The Mad Hatter's riddle has no answer. And he was quite generous, practically paying the public to read his story.
'Four shillings was a perfectly reasonable price to charge, considering the heavy initial outlay I had incurred: still, as the Public have practically said "We will will not give more than a shilling for a picture-book, however artistically got-up", I am content to reckon my outlay on the book as so much dead loss, and, rather than let the little ones, for whom it was written, go without it, I am selling it at a price which is, to me, much the same thing as giving it away.
I found this line from the introductory poem to be a highly accurate assessment of the story: "There will be nonsense in it!" Yes, lots and lots of nonsense. Most of it utterly boring. Skimming is the last resort of the desperate, and I was desperate. But I was thoroughly entertained by the rhyming poetry scattered throughout.
'I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye, How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie: The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat, While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat. When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon, Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon: While the Panther received the knife and fork with a growl, And concluded the banquet by--"
You can guess what the next three words are. LOL.
I also enjoyed the occasional play-on-words.
"We called him Tortoise because he taught us."
And of course, the most famous quote of all:
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad." "How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice. "You must be, said the Cat, "or you wouldn't gave come here."
On why cats are the opposite of dogs:
"Well, then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."
The Queen of Hearts is a figure of fun. Who hasn't wished to wield the power of the throne to eliminate those who've slighted us?
"Collar that Dormouse!" the Queen shrieked out. "Behead that Dormouse! Turn that Dormouse out of court! Suppress him! Pinch him! Off with his whiskers!"
On the prospect of decapitating a body-less Cheshire Cat:
'The executioner's argument was, that you couldn't cut off a head unless there was a body to cut it off from: that he had never had to do such a thing before, and he wasn't going to begin at his time of life.'
The Queen of Hearts indulging in her favourite sport isn't as lethal as one would think, which is a good thing because if every man, woman and animal she condemns to the guillotine were to really go to their deaths, there'd be no one left in Wonderland but the Queen herself.
Gryphon: "It's all her fancy, that: they never executes nobody, you know."
Alice has never intrigued me. I did hope reading the original would endear me more than the countless TV and movie adaptions. Poetry aside, it didn't. However, I do take pleasure from viewing the tons of gorgeous artwork inspired by Carroll's story.
* I read the 1920 edition illustrated by John Tenniel available for free on Google Play....more
(1) The picture painted of Rachel Argyll's character, our murder victim, was an interestinBook vs. 2018 BBC Adaptation = Adaptation wins.
(1) The picture painted of Rachel Argyll's character, our murder victim, was an interesting one. She becomes a collector of orphaned and unwanted children in order to fill a hole in her life that can't be filled, and while she looks after their every physical need, she's as guilty of neglect as the parents of those unwanted children in her care. She's unable to love. She shows no affection for her husband or her adopted children. They are things to be manipulated and controlled with money - a side effect of being rich, perhaps.
(2) Plot Hole Central, which means the ending doesn't make sense. (view spoiler)[If Jack knew who the killer was, why didn't he sing like a canary when he was imprisoned for his mother's murder? Granted, he coerced Kirsten into it so he could still have headed for the slammer, but it would be worth a shot. (hide spoiler)]
(3) The killer is someone so obvious that I dismissed them as a red herring. I was disappointed when I found out.
Conclusion: This is definitely not Christie's best work, far from it.
2018 BBC Adaption Review
Three hours in total. The first 2 hours were utter tedium - my attention drifted so often I had to rewind bits to check I hadn't missed anything. Nope, nothing much happens, apart from some swearing and crass sexual insults for shock value.
Part of the reason for the boredom was the portrayal of the characters. Unlike the book, all of them were horrible people. There was no trace of subtlety, ambiguity, nuance and naivety which made these characters flawed yet relatable.
I was also annoyed that historical elements had been whitewashed, such as the source of Philip's paralysis. In the book, it's polio. In the BBC adaption, it's a car crash.
Everything seemed exaggerated and sensationalized and that was rubbing me up the wrong way, especially Gwenda's absurd, cheap-looking wig. Seriously, you're the BBC, buy a better wig.
That third hour, though - that's where the action was, the juicy motives came thick and fast. Hester's was the most abhorrent. (view spoiler)[She had run off and eloped and was three months pregnant when Mummy Dearest turned up to pay the husband £500 (a fortune back then) to leave and never return, drugged Hester, had her examined and then ordered the doctor to perform an abortion. (hide spoiler)] If anyone had done that to me, they'd suffer a slow and very torturous death. To be violated like that, I can think of nothing worse. This doesn't happen in the book.
Other differences include the killer. Three murders are committed in the BBC version instead of two, though it is the same characters who die. The new killer,(view spoiler)[Leo Argyll, played by Bill Nighy, wasn't a surprise, however, his quiet and unassuming demeanour became rather sinister as he matter-of-factly kills his wife to stop her from divorcing his adulterous (and statutory rapist) arse and leaving him poor, has Jack murdered to prevent him from causing a scandal in his trial, and calls in the medics to drug and drag Dr. Calgary back to the psych ward to silence him. (hide spoiler)]
What's most notable in this change of killer is the amending of Jack's relationships. (view spoiler)[Instead of seducing Kirsten, he is, in fact, Kirsten's son, conceived when she was 15 by a predatory Leo Argyll. (hide spoiler)] After Jack's vilification throughout, this revelation humanizes him. He sees his outrageous behaviour in a new light. It fits Christie's narrative.
The above alterations made sense, along with the change to Dr. Calgary's "amnesia". The reason he doesn't come forward sooner isn't that he went on an expedition - he was supposed to be heading there, but he ended up in a psychiatric hospital instead. Schizophrenia seemed to be his issue. He travels to the Argyll's as soon as he's released. His fragile mental state and vulnerability is well played by Luke Treadaway.
So much happened in that third and last hour to rectify the damage done in the first two. Action-wise, it made the first two hours look like a recording of tumbleweed blowing in the wind. I wouldn't blame anyone for giving up before getting to that non-stop brilliant ending.
Book vs. 2018 BBC Adaptation = Adaptation wins.
Finished with minutes to go before the BBC adaptation is aired tonight. Book & Adaption review to come....more