Of Wonders Wild and New
(A Book Review of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll)
Wanting to shake off a bit of the heavy literary stuff I’ve been reading of late, I delve in my book pile for something classic, not too bothersome or cumbersome, that I can read for just a short period of time. And voilà, from my to-read pile emerges the timeless children’s book by Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Like others my age, I already watched the classic Disney animated Alice in Wonderland at one point or another during my childhood. The surprise, however, is that having read the book now, the cartoon adaptation has little resemblance from the book it was based on plot wise.
Whatever neat idea you might have of a well-ordered narrative or character development you have to throw out the window once you open the page of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It is a book that revels in its madness, in its skewed and playful logic, in its boundless wisdom…or lack of it. It is for these peculiarities and its total reversal of any ideas I may have had of the book, that make reading the book a truly enjoyable and downright wild experience. Once Alice tumbles down the rabbit-hole, I’m in it for the heck of it.
To borrow a line from the book, it gets “curioser and curioser” as you and Alice make your way into Wonderland and meet its strange inhabitants. What also makes reading the book funny and memorable is that every extraordinary creatures that Alice meets are trying to tell one another stories like that of the Mouse who tells of his “long tale” and the story of the Mock Turtle. Even Alice herself tries to tell her own sort of story her cat Dinah, yet to no avail for either she offends someone she talks to or is afraid of cats or these creatures just plain ignore her all together. It is as if storytelling as a form to relate and inform experiences are not its function. Maybe it is for this reason why Alice is having a hard time understanding Wonderland and connect with the multitude complexities of its inhabitants.
Another thing that makes it a lovely read is that the edition I have restores the classic illustrations that noted political cartoonist Sir John Tenniel did for Alice when it was published in 1865. Looking at the marvelous drawings in the book is indeed a sumptuous feast for the eye as Tenniel creates striking images for some the story’s hilarious and pivotal scenes.
At the end of it, what’s the point really? Clearly, I don’t have any definite ideas. Nonetheless, reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has somehow given me an insight in how to craft a story: that it needs to be challenging, intriguing and at the same time rewarding. Whatever the rewards are, well, it is up to you to determine for it depends a great deal from what you want to get from it. At one point or another, you’ll get it anyway.
Published by St, Martin’s Press
(Deluxe Hardcover , 1977 Edition)
Read on: November 28-29, 2015