Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

03 Mar

alceToday, a book to cheer my weary soul and lets face it a book to cheer up everyone even if they are ecstatically high on life already.

Alice, our mature and logical heroine is bamboozled at every turn in these raucous adventures. As we all know it’s the classic pair of stories about a girl going all out in the bewilderment stakes, at a bunch of unlikely characters inhabiting a fun and entirely illogically logical worlds.

Firstly though, a word on the films.  Having recently watched a whole bunch of them – my research knows no bounds when it is for you, dear reader – I have come to the conclusion that they’re all disappointing.

That said I shall always retain a soft spot for the 1951 Disney cartoon still encapsulates the strange and wondrous nature of Alice’s exploits best of all. Of course the book is really where it’s at in terms of magic.  You don’t need modern CGI to enjoy this tale.

Although the first thing people usually associate with Carroll’s stories is a huge dollop of whimsy, there is a very dark edge that stays on the cusp of the fun and humour, I love the varied feelings of melancholy, chaos and a slightly menacing cruel world.  which is mirrored in Tenniel’ s delightful and sometimes grotesque illustrations.

wordplay, puzzles, philosophy, and logic, tons of wordplay, rhymes, madcap nature.  How many other books can say they have that and yet be accessible to all generations?  I would wager (with something small and insubstantial in case I have forgotten any)  that no other book, certainly nothing that explains clever concepts in such a simple and entertaining way,

Many words can be used to describe Alice’s adventures such as fantastical, magical, definitely surreal bewildering, witty, nonsensical, ridiculous, chaotic, riotous, hullaballoo, discordant, cacophonous, the list goes on and possibly they should just list these words on the next reprint and let the books sell themselves.

A wonderful romp through the imagination it is then! I love these stories for the clever word play, double meaning and always surprising twists of fantasy. people of all ages cannot fail to be intrigued by the wonderful nature and exploration of these stories.  They are as memorable as any of the greatest set pieces in literature and have the capacity to delight however many times they are read.


Posted by on 03/03/2013 in Children's Literature, Classics


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24 responses to “Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

  1. Letizia

    03/03/2013 at 20:36

    Such a wonderful book 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      03/03/2013 at 20:41

      There is not many better. Always good for bedtime reading. Lovely rhythm to it as well.


  2. richardcrompton

    03/03/2013 at 20:42

    I don’t know why film-makers keep trying to film these books! They’re books which play with the written word. Yet, for all their logical puzzles and punning, they appeal to 39-year old me as much as my 5 and 3-year old kids.


    • StetotheJ

      03/03/2013 at 21:34

      That is spot on, the book is all about the power of the word, which is lost on film makers. When i read this after the Disney version which I lived on as a kid, I was amazed at how much more superior it was.


    • shadowoperator

      03/03/2013 at 21:50

      I saw an excellent production in November in Toronto of the ballet “Alice in Wonderland,” and though some puns were capable of being registered visually, more were absent. But that didn’t matter: children reading the book often fall in love with the story line and the whimsy long before they can understand the puzzles, and what was being celebrated in the ballet was the experience we had all shared as readers and lovers of the Alice story. I would recommend anyone to see this ballet who could get to it.


      • StetotheJ

        08/03/2013 at 18:43

        Sounds like an interesting night out. I always enjoy crossover mediums and different takes on a classic.


  3. evermoreevil

    03/03/2013 at 20:42

    I adore Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Virtually no plot, it’s just a bunch of insane stuff happening one after the other, with so much nonsense caked into every sentence that it almost defies meaning. Like a good poem, you can read literally anything into the text. Is it about drug use? Is it about growing up? Is it about never letting go of your childhood?

    The films fail because they try and twist the book in a LOTR-esque plot-driven quest epic. Which is not what Alice is. The Disney version is very good, and there is a marvellous TV-Movie version of TTLG that is really enjoyable and faithful.

    But mostly, AAiW defies any sort of faithful adaptation, because even by today’s standards, it is a dark, twisted, eccentric work of genius nonsense. And it is absolutely bloody beautiful.


    • StetotheJ

      03/03/2013 at 21:05

      Caked in, I like that phrase. It is something special whatever it is on about and all the better for its contrasting theories. If this book could be anything else it would be a bath that would soak you in words and make you make connections that are so obscure but so right.


  4. Bumba

    03/03/2013 at 23:16

    This is a very very fine review. It’s difficult to review a classic like this, and you’d pulled it off in excellent style. Congrats. Yes, and what pleasure it is to read these books.


    • StetotheJ

      04/03/2013 at 21:49

      They really are exceptional, it was tough to say something more about such well known and loved books, but a summary with a mish mash of opinions confirming everyone’s thoughts always goes down well.


      • Bumba

        04/03/2013 at 21:54

        Well, you did it very smoothly.


  5. klumpigy

    04/03/2013 at 02:31

    My go to book for those times when you just want to hide under the covers and forget the world. I to found the movies to be nothing compared to Carroll’s original imaginings. I can’t decide which book I like better and I’m glad I seldom have to choose. My vintage copy sits open on my bookself to the image of Alice with the cats after she awakens from the looking glass dream. She is one of my most beloved protagonist, with all her logical yet irational whimsy comments “if everything isn’t what it is, then everything is what it isn’t”. It’s raining here in Perth today, I think a good for a caucus race and some chess 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      08/03/2013 at 18:41

      I see the similarities with Alice and your good self. That is one of the many reasons we get on, that and our enjoyment of the noble ferret (or did I make that up).


  6. RoSy

    04/03/2013 at 02:48

    I shall add this to my list of books to get. The girls are into reading stories together. Let’s see how they do with this one…


    • StetotheJ

      04/03/2013 at 21:43

      A massive treat is guaranteed or my name is Winston Klinsmann the Third. Hang on a minute….


  7. aliceatwonderland

    04/03/2013 at 03:25

    I know this will surprise you, but it’s my favorite book. I know, will wonders never cease? I think my favorite parts are how Alice thinks to herself all the way through the book. I have that running conversation going on in my head all the time too. Why is this world so insane? Everything is interesting when looked at from a certain point of view. Curiouser and curiouser.


    • StetotheJ

      08/03/2013 at 18:46

      Everything is interesting when looked at from a certain point of view. That is the best sentence I have been in contact with all day, except for being described as ‘not a bad old stick’.


  8. quirkybooks

    05/03/2013 at 00:48

    An interesting review. I like your phrase: “A wonderful romp through the imagination it is then!” I think it could be a best selling title.


  9. Alastair Savage

    07/03/2013 at 09:07

    Another nice post! Do you also know The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner? It includes the text of both Alice books with a sophisticated commentary on the stories, including a fun pastiche of one of the poems. It might be out of print now, which is a shame.
    You’ll also enjoy “The Hunting of the Snark” by Carroll if you haven’t read that yet. “What I tell you three times is true!” Classic.


    • StetotheJ

      08/03/2013 at 18:33

      I haven’t read the Annotated Alice, but I may have to hunt down a copy. It sounds like it can add a lot to my original enjoyment. I read Snark years ago, same time as Bruno and Sylvie. I don’t recall it much though. Definitely due a reread.


  10. LuAnn

    07/03/2013 at 13:45

    I haven’t read this since I was very young but your writing makes me want to go out and get the book again. You never cease to amaze me! 🙂


    • StetotheJ

      08/03/2013 at 18:27

      Yes, yes and one more yes so I don’t have to use the word ‘thrice’, thereby typing it and defeating the object of the sentence. You will appreciate it more this time around as well.



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