Monday, July 26, 2010

Alice in Wonderland [Worth Press]

Lewis Carroll's two Alice stories, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There are probably the most read and most-frequently adapted stories in the Worth Literary Classics line, so I won't spend a lot of time on the stories themselves. They're nonsense, but a charming sort of nonsense, and have inspired countless works because of their "surreal" or "psychedelic" imagery.

The Worth editions are notable for the inclusion of both the original black-and-white and later full-colour illustrations drawn by John Tenniel--these are gorgeous and add a lot to the story. Four essays are included. "Lewis Caroll: A Paradox" by Morton N. Cohen is a brief biography of Carroll and the history behind the Alice stories. Will Brooker, a well-known pop culture historian, writes "The Further Adventuers of Alice" which is an interesting overview of how Carroll's characters and settings have been portrayed in various media, such as movies, Batman comics, video games, and more. Hugues Lebailly's "The Child-Friends Controversy" was a smart essay to include in the collection, and it forthrightly addresses the question of whether C.L. Dodgson (who wrote under the "Lewis Carroll" pseudonym) was a pedophile. The essay concludes that Dodgson's friendship with, and photographing of, young girls was not remarkable at the time, nor does an analysis of Dodgson's letters or the testimony of the girls themselves betray any sort of inappropriate contact. Finally, there's Rose Lovell-Smith's "Introducing the Animal Characters of Wonderland" which is a quite boring discussion of Victorian naturalism's influence on Tenniel's illustrations.

Next: Jane Austen's Persuasion

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