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Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #2)
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1001 Monthly Group Read > June {2010} Discussion -- THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS by Lewis Carroll

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message 1: by Charity (new)

Charity (charityross) Start talking...


message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan | 17 comments Since I read both books so close together, Alice in Wonderland and then Through the Looking Glass, I rather enjoyed Wonderland better. I mean Alice has a serious imagination!!!

On a side note of the looking glass though...I remember being a child and taking a hand mirror and holding it where I could see the ceiling of the rooms and pretended like I was walking on the ceiling.


message 3: by Celeste (new)

Celeste | 14 comments I read both together, straight through. "Sorry Dr. Lund" They were easier to read than I thought they would be. I've seen the movies, I've even been the doormouse in the play. All of the above are very convoluted. The books however were not. I guess I should have started with the originial. They are both very cute, quick reads. I think I read them both in less than two days. "yay for summers off" Quirky is the ideal term to describe this story." However the easy explanation of events bothered me. I would rather have had it left as a real experience rather than dreams. She is quite the dreamer though. I would have like to have been left with the question "hmmmmmm, I wonder if that really happened." Never guess I'm a huge fan of the paranormal. Ghosts are real and physic energy is out there.


mara | 220 comments Mod
OK! Well this discussion is off and running nicely. Anyone have the annotated Alice? I read it awhile ago but don't have my copy anymore? Any interesting information behind the story to share?

Why DO you think Carrol set this story more obviously in Alice's imagination or dreams than Wonderland? The setting is pretty clearly Alice's little girl imagination running wild on the chess game she'd been playing before. Right? Anyone think differently?


Erik Erm, I'm not sure if I'm answering the question or not...? My aunt had a version with a crazy long introduction. I think it said that he wrote these for a little girl named Alice? If that was true, I'd say it was set there because it's what kids like. No kid wants to hear a story about the real world. It's too boring. There's too much muggle-ness for it to be an entertaining story. Maaaybe?


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 17 comments @ Erik
Too much muggle-ness (love it!).

It's the innocence of Alice's imagination...wonderland doesn't really exist and who is to say there's not a world behind the mirror? She's taking a boring chess game and creating a spin on it, to make it more fun. That is what the imagination does for you when you are young, takes ordinary things and turns it into something wonderful.


message 7: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (fireweaver) | 104 comments NM, we could start a whole 'nuther thread about books that are spin-offs and re-imaginings after 'alice'!

i just got done with 'wonderland' a couple of days ago, and i wanted to give a few days cushion before firing up the second, but it is with me here at work... anyway, i would so very much have loved to be reading this completely cold. as it is, having seen so many movie adaptations (anyone seen the cracked-out scandinavian stop-motion-animated verson??), the book was to some extent a checklist of familiar scenes. the prose is charming, but i would have loved to discover it new.

fyi, anyone sitting on the fence about this one - these works are very much in the public domain and can be had for free off of project gutenberg or via the e-reader program of your choice (amazon, b&n, itunes, etc, etc).


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I would have to say I did not look this book at all it was a little too quirky for me.


Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Anyone seen the latest version of this story with Johnny Depp and care to comment? I've heard it does not pretend to be "true to the original story" and is perhaps more adult oriented.... Anyone have an opinion?

Wasn't Carroll on mind altering drugs when he wrote this? That's what I've read.


Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments Just put in some due diligence about Lewis Carroll on Wikipedia and there is no reference to any mind-altering drugs in his biographies. That was a surprise to me since I was sure I had read that he took opium. Glad to know he didn't!

But he did suffer from some form of seizures plus migraines preceded by "auras". This phenomenon (auras) is explained as seeing objects in an altered state, for instance, a volleyball may look the size of a golf ball. Of course biographers have speculated that these events gave him fodder for Alice's adventures.

Also, he denied that the Alice books were written about a real Alice although there was one eleven year old family friend (Alice Liddell) to whom he presented his draft of the book (with his own illustrations). He also photographed this Alice and a number of other young children. A photo of her is available in the Wikipedia article.


message 11: by Katherine (new)

Katherine (katats) | 150 comments I read annotated versions of Alice and Through the Looking glass a couple years ago, and I must say that it enhanced my understanding and enjoyment a great deal. Say what you wish about Lewis Carroll, but the man was a genius with mathematics, and I would have missed so many references without the annotations. There was a lot of information about his friendships with the Liddell sisters as well. I have The Annotated Alice on my "read" and "1001 books" bookshelves, but for some reason it won't let me add it to this post.


message 12: by Bishop (new)

Bishop (a_bishop) | 72 comments I had a professor who argued that Alice can/should be read as a satire of religion. I'm not sure....


message 13: by Erik (new) - rated it 3 stars

Erik Bishop wrote: "I had a professor who argued that Alice can/should be read as a satire of religion. I'm not sure...."

My favorite part of literature: you get to make stuff up and never be wrong

Love it :D


Kirsten | 35 comments What an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon, revisiting the familiar scenes and dialogue that are now so ingrained in our collective consciousness of Western culture. I also read the Annotated version, which added a lot to the experience, as did Sir John Tenniel's illustrations. Good choice!


message 15: by Erica (new)

Erica Erik wrote: "Bishop wrote: "I had a professor who argued that Alice can/should be read as a satire of religion. I'm not sure...."

My favorite part of literature: you get to make stuff up and never be wrong

L..."


You've got that right. I prefer to read both Looking Glass and Wonderland simply as classic childen's stories and forget about reading anything deeper into them, but that's just me. Opium/aura-induced or not, I think the whole point is to take a journey into a child's imagination.

Having said that, I did enjoy all the wordplay in both stories (though I thought it was a little more clever in Wonderland than Looking Glass) because I'm somewhat of an English nerd. :)


message 16: by Meera (new)

Meera Shardae wrote: "I would have to say I did not look this book at all it was a little too quirky for me."

I didn't really care for it either. I didn't hate it but it was making me sleepy while I was reading it. I could have handled the whimsy if there had been more of a plot. But then it would be a different book. Glad I read it though since it is part of the Western canon.


message 17: by mark (new)

mark monday (majestic-plural) Judith wrote: "Anyone seen the latest version of this story with Johnny Depp and care to comment? I've heard it does not pretend to be "true to the original story" and is perhaps more adult oriented.... Anyone ..."

the burton film is not an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, it is actually a sequel of sorts. i thought it worked very well and was true to carroll's tone.


message 18: by Grace (new)

Grace I have The Annotated Alice with commentary by Scientific American's math columnist, Martin Gardner.

The annotations are very, very useful.

I am not so sure that Lewis is a mathematical genius. For all his talk about Americans lacking imagination, I found his hostility to the new emerging algebras of his time a signal that he lacked mathematical imagination.

Read Algebra in Wonderland for the backstory about algebras that stretch shapes by different multiples along different axes.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/opi...

Algebras that follow those rules are enormously useful in modern life. Ask anyone who views Google Earth's exaggerated vertical scale to pick a bike route with minimal altitude gain. ;-)

Here's a book review about a new Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) biography:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/01/boo...
The review gives a synopsis of his life story.

I liked Looking Glass better than Wonderland. But, I am an algebra partisan. Abstract algebra and quantum mechanics (which uses the new algebras), were my favorite subjects in college.


Judith (jloucks) | 1203 comments "Through the Looking Glass" is supposedly darker than "Alice in Wonderland". Anyone disagree?


message 20: by Grace (new)

Grace @ Judith

Yes, Looking Glass is very dark.

Alice's journey reminded me of Kafka's The Castle. You can't get there from here.


Ginny | 165 comments Mark wrote: "Judith wrote: "Anyone seen the latest version of this story with Johnny Depp and care to comment? I've heard it does not pretend to be "true to the original story" and is perhaps more adult orient..."

I'd have to agree with u Mark. Both my teenage daughters are huge Johnny Depp/Tim Burton fans and had me watch this movie with them. They loved it and though I didn't love it, I did enjoy watching it.


message 22: by Jenna (new)

Jenna | 9 comments It seems to me that the entire book is an amusing play on words to show the obvious misinterpretations of words and definitions that we know by heart, but a child would interpret quite differently. Most of the absurdity is in interpreting idioms and metaphors literally; only a child could see it that way.

It reminds me of Milo and the Magic Tollbooth, which was probably a take-off on Alice and not the other way around.


message 23: by [deleted user] (new)

MG wrote: "Shardae wrote: "I would have to say I did not look this book at all it was a little too quirky for me."

I didn't really care for it either. I didn't hate it but it was making me sleepy while I w..."


I wanted to put it down but there is nothing worse, for me, than not finishing a book.


Nicole | 3 comments I read both of these books back to back, about a month ago. Both were incredibly odd for my taste but could definitely see the wonder and excitement these books bring to children. However, as an adult reading them this time around, I found myself just wanting to get through them and be done.


message 25: by jb (new)

jb Byrkit (jbbyrkit) I am new to the group. I have read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and am currently reading Through the Looking Glass. I am enjoying both. I did see the Tim Burton movie and LOVED it, but I am a Burton and Depp fan. I like the darkness of the movie!


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Jennifer (jennbunny) wrote: "I am new to the group. I have read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and am currently reading Through the Looking Glass. I am enjoying both. I did see the Tim Burton movie and LOVED it, but I am ..."

Welcome Jennifer


message 27: by jb (new)

jb Byrkit (jbbyrkit) Thank you Shardae.....now onto reading Through the Looking Glass.


message 28: by Anne (new)

Anne  (arl0401) | 6 comments I finished Alice in Wonderland and I did enjoy it. I did not read any intros or background and it's been a long time since I saw the movie as a child. And all I could think in the first few chapters was that this guy really is high on something. As it went on I felt more that it was just a nice story to be able to tell a child, and to encourage that child to imagine and dream. I've now started Through the Looking Glass and should finish it in the next couple of days.


Karina | 376 comments Just finished reading Through The Looking Glass. I read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland a few months back and I must say, this one was much less bizarre than Wonderland, but I really enjoyed Wonderland for the oddities. There is a lot of imagination and whimsy and I had a hard time following certain conversations, but reading the book reminds me of having a young child telling you a story, where there really is no cohesive plot, just action. I do agree with some, that you sort of feel like you need to be on some good stuff to really understand the book, exactly how I felt with watching the Disney Animated version. Looking back, it is true what they say that youth is wasted on the young, because as a child I am sure I would "understand" so much more than I do as a jaded adult. All and all a very whimsy story, even if I am still stratching my head.


message 30: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 6 comments I agree with Karina- there was the definite feel of a child going on and on with this story by combining idea after idea in a somewhat random order with words and phrasing that doesn't really make sense. (I am a director of a children's gymnastics facility, and parts of this book could have come right out of the mouths of my students!) However, I enjoyed both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass because they put me into the mindset of a child. I am planning on reading parts of them to the kids at my summer camp because I am sure they will enjoy them. Very interesting read as an adult.


message 31: by Vanessa (new) - added it

Vanessa Paey | 22 comments Judith wrote: "Just put in some due diligence about Lewis Carroll on Wikipedia and there is no reference to any mind-altering drugs in his biographies. That was a surprise to me since I was sure I had read that ..."

I was going to say we looked at some of Lewis Carroll's photography in a history of photo class....kind of weird because he liked to take photos of young boys and i'm assuming this Alice.


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

MG wrote: "Shardae wrote: "I would have to say I did not look this book at all it was a little too quirky for me."

I didn't really care for it either. I didn't hate it but it was making me sleepy while I w..."


That is the same thing I felt, I couldn't find myself getting into it without much of a plot.


message 33: by Sarah (last edited Jul 12, 2010 09:14AM) (new)

Sarah Sutton (thesaraheffect) | 3 comments Hi! Hey look, my first comment :o)

When I finished Alice and Through the Looking glass I had this suspician that, though I really enjoyed it, I was missing a bigger theme. It is as if Lewis Carrol just played a massive joke on the literary community and, wherever he is today, he is still chuckling to himself. Whether the joke is the message hidden in silliness or the poor folks trying to find a hidden message in nonsense, I can not yet tell, but I'm sure he's laughing either way.

I have a high tolerance for silliness especially when it is flavored with imagination, so both stories were a delight for me. In Through the Looking Glass, the meandering plot takes a backseat to the spirit of "playtime" that dominates most of the story. Like a painter who loves the elements of his craft, the color and texture of the paint and canvas, more than the picture itself, Lewis Carrol creates a story where the journey truly is more important than the destination. It is almost as if the story is really just an excuse for the experience: an opportunity to take a dip in a child's dream-world and look at the landscape.

While you could write it off as a silly indulgence and whimsy, when you consider Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll's intelligence and his purposeful life, it would be short-sighted to simply write the story off as merely nonsensical ramblings.

I wonder if, given his sympathies toward children, Carroll was trying to give the reader (or himself) a window into a child's world with all of its magic and possibilities and dark disappointments and frustrations. As a child, we are bombarded with new and often confusing experiences and we have only a limited set of rules and logical truths with which to understand these experiences. As we set out to understand our world, these rules and truths are often broken or missapplied -at least as far as we can understand- and the experience can be frightening and immensely frustrating.

At the same time, the flexibility and trust of a child's mind grants him the ability to navigated these experiences with the excitement and hope that often comes with such novelty.

Alice demonstrates both amazing flexibility and self-sacrificing committment to her rules. I was fascinated by the way the Alice alternated between impatience and politeness depending on the circumstances. She could not understand the logic of the Red and White Queens, Humpty Dumpty, or the twins but she listened obligingly because she feared appearing rude or hurting their feelings. She even attempted to operate according to the rules of their world.

As adults reading the story we don't have any knowledge that Alice does not-we don't understand the logic so we experience the same frustration though we may be able to laugh at the silliness of it more often then she because WE are not trapped in that world. Still, Alice never asked for escape, she trusted the promises of Queen and was committed to finished the journey she started.

I was particularly struck by the experience running with the Red Queen! Poor Alice was dragged along by a volatile and nearly frightening adult who asked more of her than Alice believe she could deliver. When she needed water she was given dry cookies. Though she was disappointed the rules of her world dictated that she take them with gratitude. How often a child must experience this same frustration! When they, in their understanding, desperately need one thing they are offered something completely different and expected to say "thank-you."

This is just a brief speculation but I think that if we looked more deeply into each of Alice's encounters we could find even more insight into the plight of a child lost in an adult world. It at least gives me a bit more sympathy and even respect for children.


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Sutton (thesaraheffect) | 3 comments Judith wrote: "Anyone seen the latest version of this story with Johnny Depp and care to comment? I've heard it does not pretend to be "true to the original story" and is perhaps more adult oriented.... Anyone ..."

Hi Judith! I have to admit that I did NOT like the Tim Burton version of Alice. This comes as a big surprise because i am an avid Burton/Depp/Bonham-Carter fan.

I think I'm unfairly biased against the film because the title led me to believe it was going to be Alice in Wonderland and it was so obviously a departure from Carroll's original story. The film had an obvious message and a plot-line that were much too straightforward to share a title with Carroll's stories. I felt deceived!

I was also irritated that they zeroed in so narrowly on the Jabberwocky. That was such a small piece of the book and it became the entire story. Now, if the film had been called The Jabberwocky or something to that effect, I probably wouldn't have been as disappointed. In fact I would love to see a film that told the story behind the Jabberwocky. But Burton tried to blend the poem with Alice's adventure and it just didn't make any sense.

I guess I just felt that the film had an entirely different purpose and spirit than the books. Burton wrote an epic about a heroine and a monster, Carroll wrote about a child's andventurous but nonsensical dreams. Now, silly dreams can have incredible depth if you examine them carefully, but they do not have the same feeling as a straitforward hero-on-a-quest story.

Oh, and did Johnny Depp just decide to pull every character out of his repertoir and jam it into a single character seasoned with a in-an-out scottish accent? Not cool Johnny. That's lazy, man.


message 35: by jb (new)

jb Byrkit (jbbyrkit) I really enjoyed the Tim Burton movie. I also enjoyed reading both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Both very whimsical.


message 36: by Darryl (new)

Darryl | 6 comments When I finished Alice and Through the Looking glass I had this suspician that, though I really enjoyed it, I was missing a bigger theme. It is as if Lewis Car..."

Some nice observations, Sarah. Although I enjoyed the book, I didn't do a very good job seeing the world from Alice's point of view. I imagine much of the adult world does seem pretty loopy to a small child. It certainly has its own logic.

As far as the movie, I was curious but didn't have particularly high expectations. I knew that Hollywood would never make a big budget movie that's as surreal as Carrol's world. Because of my lower expectations I ended up enjoying it. It was a fun story with lots of eye candy.


message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Sutton (thesaraheffect) | 3 comments @Darryl, I still have hope that some soul would be able to catch hold of Carroll's spirit in these books and translate that to the screen. I'm not so sure I'd get behind it at this point, though. You only get a few chances at a making a film from a particular book. We may have exhausted these stories for a while.

I found out shortly before I watched the film that it was something of a sequel to Through the Looking Glass. I never got over that initial disappointment so the film was working with a handicap with me. That's not really fair on my part.


As you said, there was a lot of eye candy. It was a really pretty film without losing Burton's dark aesthetic and I did love his interpretation of the Bandersnatch and the Jabberwocky. Anne Hathaway really impressed me as well, which was a nice surprise.

The real disappointment was not in the production but the story, it seemed so simple and almost lazy to abandon all the subtleties and challanges presented by Carroll in the book and instead write a heroic fantasy. It just seemed like they took the easier and more predictable route.

I'm a big fan of heroic fantasy but not one posing as literary nonsense. I suppose some who did not care for the meandering and seemingly-plotless books would be happy that someone wrote a story that made sense. But it is kind of like those "healthy" Naked protein smoothies with nearly 500 calories. I don't mind that it's not particularly healthy, I just don't like that it is marketed as healthy!


message 38: by LoRayne (new)

LoRayne (lortega) To Sarah: I enjoyed reading your critique of the book, because it helped to give some dimension to the book that I couldn't develop for myself. I have to agree with those who didn't care for the book. Maybe it's because I've seen the Disney version a few too many times and have now seen Burton's creation and absolutely loved it! I have tried reading Carroll's 'Alice in Wonderland' before and abandoned it thinking I was too busy to stick to it. After joining this group, I took another stab at it and abandoned it once again. I'm convinced now that I really don't like it. I couldn't get into the book. It was whimsical as some have said, but I hated the lack of plot. I thought that Burton did Carroll so much justice by adding a depth/roundness to the characters that Carroll left out. I also liked that Burton didn't just make the book into the movie but instead allowed the story to be a spinoff to give us a different idea of what happened to Alice...

I'm determined to finish it and to read 'Through the Looking Glass'--eventually--especially now after reading some of the posts of people who liked the book so much. I do want to recommend to those that are aching for more of Alice the series called "The Looking Glass Wars" by Frank Beddor. I personally have not had a chance to read the books, but my daughter (a voracious reader) loves them. Curiously enough, she doesn't like the original "Alice in Wonderland."

By the way, I'm glad to be part of this group...thanks to everyone who shares their thoughts about the books read!


Ariel | 4 comments I think this is one of the most clever books of all times...


message 40: by Dimitra (new)

Dimitra | 9 comments I loved this book, it was just so cute. My favorite part was when she was talking with Humpty Dumpty. I liked how in her world it was like everyone was I child and she had her own logic and it was all backwards.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 124 comments Wow, some really good insights here! I would never have thought of taking the literal meanings of our idioms, or the frustrations of seeing adult rules through a child's eyes... I've probably always looked at it from a too "adult" perspective.

Yes, it does seem too psychedelic for him NOT too have been on something at the time... but that doesn't mean it's any less impressive of a foray into a child's imagination.


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