“Curioser and curioser!”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
I am a huge-fan of Alice, and being one of my all-time favorite books, Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, along with its sequel, “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There” never fails to delight me when I was younger, or even now, when I am a young adult. The book is not only famous and remains as one of the most influential piece of literature, but it is also strangely entertaining to be read over and over again.
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland starts when little Alice falls down a rabbit hole when she chases after a White Rabbit when relaxing with her sister on the riverbank. After a strange fall, Alice finds herself in a curious place called Wonderland. Here, Alice will literally grow and shrink, all while repeating and listening to equally curious poems and interacting with the various quirky inhabitants of Wonderland, from the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, to the abominable, yet feared, Queen of Hearts.
In the Looking-Glass World, Alice confronts even weirder characters; from the joke-loving Gnat, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the iconic Humpty Dumpty, to the White and Red Queen as well as the White Knight, there is never a lack of interesting and absurd characters to be introduced, and after the weird introduction, things get even weirder.
Exactly, nothing is normal in Wonderland and the Looking-Glass World if you were to compare the logic flow with that of reality’s. Even the interactions in both of the worlds Alice finds herself in are nowhere near sensible; The Queen of Hearts beheads everyone over the most trifle of matters (such as over a Croquet game, which is played with hedgehogs and flamingos), the Mock Turtle tells the story of his education in Arithmetic, involving Uglification and Derision, the Lion asking Alice were an animal, vegetable, or mineral, and the Red Queen introduces Alice to a talking pudding, which is nice! XD
When you read the book, most of the time, you might not even understand why are the inhabitants of Wonderland and the Looking-Glass World behave in such a bizarre manner, even to an annoying extent; but strangely, you realize that Alice in not in our world, she is in an entirely different world where those extremely strange things are normal, a world where, the Cheshire Cat says, all the residents are mad. It is a story of a logical girl facing an illogical world. With this, the confusions become enjoyable, and you will be delighted by Carroll’s wordplay and humor; the story stops being an annoying nonsensical tale, because you know that the nonsensical nature is precisely what makes the story great. When the book uses plenty of famous nursery rhymes and alters them (such as “The Old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them” into “You are Old, Father William”, which is just brilliantly funny!), children and adults can appreciate the humors even more 😀 .
Sure enough, the Alice books have cleverly placed humors and timeless entertaining interactions, even Alice’s monologue with herself is interesting for children and adults alike. However, the thing that makes the book resides deep within my mind is the fact that aside from being highly enjoyable, it still provides a surprising amount of depth. The Alice books can be read as a satirical narrative towards the Victorian society in terms of conducts and rules regarding mannerisms, a political allegory in a few chapters, a message regarding growing-up, or the expression of Lewis Carroll (or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s seemingly controversial psyche). Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and through the Looking-Glass can be read in more than a few ways while still being entertaining with its absurd development, where Alice’s surroundings and the story’s setting can suddenly change entirely because the author wanted for it, without any explanation whatsoever.
The book also plays a literary importance in being one of the pioneers of the literary nonsense genre, as well as properly introducing the usage of Portmanteaus through the famous poem “Jabberwocky” in “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There”, in which the queer words would be explained by Humpty Dumpty. This inspires famous works such as James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake”, and the talking animals served as a reference for Kenneth Grahame to write his “The Wind in the Willows”. What started out as a story told to three little girls has become a literary masterpiece.
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass” has kept its enduring appeal for centuries, being a famous topic of interest for everyone, from children to literary experts, and considering its nature of fulfilling one of the most basic and fundamental fantasy tales’ roles of being entertaining and accessible while offering limitless depth, it is not an exaggeration to say that it will be the book to be read by many more in decades, or even centuries to come.
Rating from me: 4.5/5
What do you think of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece?