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27th May
2009
written by Steph
Wonder no more!  Read it!

Wonder no more! Read it!

I’m a bit bummed that this long weekend was graced with gray skies and intermittent rainstorms rather than lolling about by the pool and using the grill, but dreary days can have their perks!  Sunday afternoon, I plucked Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland from the shelf as I’d never read it before and proceeded to read the whole thing through OUT LOUD to Tony as we lazed on the couch.  I don’t know why it took me 26 years to get to this book, because it was so much fun.  For some reason I had built up in my mind the belief that Carroll’s language was rather cumbersome and confusing (I know I tried to read the story when I was younger but could never get past the first few pages), but this time round I simply found it delightful.  I knew the guy had a penchant for poetry, but I didn’t know he had such a fondness for puns (boo to all of those people who say puns are the lowest form of wit and humor – I love them!).  I was particularly amused by Alice’s dialogues with the Hatter and with the Mock Turtle and Gryphon, and the trial at the end was really very funny as well.  There was a good deal of snickering on both Tony’s and my part as I read through this book.
Poor Bill!

Poor Bill!

The story was at times manic and completely absurd (I can’t help but feel that kids might find it confusing at times, but what do I know?), but I thought it had a lot of charm and really appreciated it’s playful spirit.  I loved Carroll’s approach to the English language as well as how sprightly all of the characters are.  The copy I read was a hardback, annotated version (complete with lovely illustrations), but I read the story straight through without pausing over the footnotes and asides.  I know I’ll definitely re-read this story in the future, and look forward to spending some time poring over the details and trivia that might allow for a richer second read through.  My volume also contains Through The Looking Glass (which Tony tells me is far weirder), which I will read when I feel I need a dollop of nonsense to cleanse my reading palate.  I highly recommend this lovely little romp to anyone looking for a smart, diverting read. Rating: 4.5 out of 5

14 Comments

  1. 05/27/2009

    I was a kid when I first read this, and to be honest I thought it was creepy and I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. However, afterwards, over the years, all my memories of it, however, weirded out I was, evoked good feelings. I knew it made an impression and that it was good, it kept me engaged. I would love to read it again one day and see how I view it as an adult.

  2. 05/27/2009

    I completely see how this book could freak out a kid as well as go completely over their heads. There’s a lot of nonsense going on, which on some level I feel kids might appreciate simply because they aren’t prone to overanalyzing and trying to find meaning in everything, but kids get spooked by some pretty weird things as well (true story: when I was young, I watched part of Clash of the Titans with my dad which deals with Greek mythology and also (in retrospect, because Tony and I watched it about a year ago) has TERRIBLE “special” “effects”… yet I was SO scared of Medusa and proceeded to have nightmares for the next year or something crazy). Obviously Carroll was very imaginative and creative (and on drugs?), but what I appreciated most about this read was the mastery of the language – so many puns! Kids aren’t going to get those (and actually, unless you’re reading aloud, you might not get some of them either!), but I really got a kick out of them. Also, I think Carroll uses the element of absurdity to great effect, especially in relation to questions such as “Who am I?” or “Where am I going?”

    All this to say, this is one of those childhood tales that DOES stand up to an adult reading. If anything, a slightly larger frontal lobe is probably a big help here! I’d love to hear your thoughts when/if you do re-read this.

  3. I have never read this either. I think I may have tried to as a child, but like you gave up. I must give it a try one day soon.

  4. 05/27/2009

    I have also never read this book. I missed a lot of the children’s literature as I only really started to become a reader in my late teens. I am going to try and pick this one up, and I am really glad you liked it.

  5. 05/27/2009

    I remember reading and loving the abridged version of Alice in Wonderland when I was child. I haven’t read it or the original version since. I really need to get to it soon. Sigh. So much to read…

    It was sunny here over the weekend, but the clouds rolled in Monday afternoon and they haven’t left since. Dreary days are good for lazing around reading though. 🙂

  6. 05/27/2009

    @ Jackie: It’s funny how childhood fumbles can scar our reading habits in later years! Despite so many people raving about this one, I was certain it would be confusing and a slow read. I was glad to be proven wrong. Now, if only I can do the same with Dickens!
     
    @ zibilee: Parts of this were familiar because of the Disney version, but the book is a lot more interesting, I think. I could see kids enjoying having this one read to them, but as I said to Claire, there are things that they’re not going to get (but which will provide you with tons of fun!).
     
    @ J.S. : I’d be curious to know what the abridged version cuts out. It’s not a very long book unabridged, so I wonder if they just cut out some of the discussions and focused on moving the plot forward?

  7. 05/27/2009

    My sister also just read Alice in Wonderland recently and was all excited about it. I’ve never read it but am excited to get my hands on a copy soon – I could use a “dollop of nonsense”!!

  8. 05/28/2009

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! I like both of them too, although you just can’t think about how weird it is while you’re reading: just think of it as a weird dream.

  9. 05/28/2009

    I have to admit that I have never read this one either. I have seen the gorgeous illustrated version that you are talking about though and it looks so beautiful I might be tempted…

  10. 05/28/2009

    Hooray, I’m so glad you liked it. I recently re-read it and loved it as well. Puns are a wonderful form of humor, no matter what anyone says.

  11. 05/28/2009

    @ Emily A.: Really, who couldn’t use a dollop of nonsense? It’s a wonderful little read!
     
    @ Rebecca: It is certainly a weird little romp, but I suppose I have a high tolerance for the absurd, because it never seemed too out there for me. Perhaps because I watched the movie was little? But I may have a harder time with “Through the Looking Glass”… we shall see!
     
    @ Karen: I completely admit to buying this copy just because it was so pretty. I have such a deep investment in the aesthetics of books that I would totally buy a book just because I like the looks of it! Thankfully, it paid off this time!
     
    @ verbivore: Thank goodness you enjoy a good pun as well! They are my default form of humor – the worse they are, the better! 😀

  12. 05/30/2009

    I’ve loved this and Through the Looking Glass since childhood.
    I can’t wait to see Tim Burton’s film version, which can’t be worse than the insipid Disney effort!

  13. 05/30/2009

    I think Tim Burton is a great choice to direct an “accurate” Alice film. I expect the visuals to be stunning, and I’m sure it will be a lot more truthful to the book.

  14. 06/18/2009

    I was first introduced to Alice when my father read them to me as a young child. I’m sure a lot of it went over my head at first, but I thought it was fantastic and loved the wordplay. My four-year-old finds the disney film frightening, though. She doesn’t like how the characters argue all the time.

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