Monday, 18 June 2012

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

and, Through the Looking Glass And What Alice Found There
Lewis Carroll, 1865, 1872
(May 2012)



Despite Jabberwocky being one of only two poems I can recite from memory, I only read (and saw) the Disneyfied version of Alice when I was younger, but bought the ‘real’ thing in uni. I was toying with an idea for my thesis – trying to extend the Red Queen hypothesis on dynamic equilibrium beyond biological evolution to cover social systems as well. My tutor, with depressing ease, convinced me that my ideas were a little too vague to base a research project on, and the book’s been on the shelf ever since.

However, my ESS students have decided they want to put on an abridged version for their culture festival, so it seemed like a good time to actually read the thing properly. It’s a very English combination of the playful, the whimsical, and the teeth-gratingly fussy and prissy. Alice, frankly, is a precocious little madam with a silver spoon in her mouth and a stick up her ass; an insufferable Victorian spit-roast of a character.

However, the depth of ideas puts most contemporary children’s fiction to shame, and I seriously doubt that the likes of Harry Potter will have anything near as much lasting cultural impact. They’re not going to be making references to Quidditch in SF movies in the year 2125. If they’re still making movies then. Which they probably won’t be. And the F won’t be Fiction any more but Fact, except the bits that are still Fiction and always will be, and that’s a Fact.

Oh dear, what nonsense I’m talking.


10 comments:

  1. I've read the first book a few times and should be starting the 2nd one soon. This is one of the best children stories ever, and a must read for anyone that has an imagination. Its also the basis for one of the greatest scifi films The matrix. I wish I was forced to read this one and the narnia books instead of worthless stories like pride and prejudice.

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    1. Honestly, I don't know about 'one of the best stories'. There isn't really any story to it; it's just a load of weird things that happen to here, one after the other. Don't know how appealing that lack of narrative would really be to kids these days. Totally agree about the imagination though.

      Ahh, the matrix. You should click through on some of the links ;)

      And in defence of P+P, it's great when you realise just how brutally sarcastic Austen is. But, yeah, if you miss that then it's just a load of dilettantes trying to get hitched.

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    2. I think I liked alice in wonderland mostly because I'm a big fan of people going being swept into alternate worlds and my yearning to have had the same happen to me.

      I might have gone a bit overboard with Pride and Prejudice. I was probably too immature to grasp the concept of what was being going on. it was english class so I was bored.

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    3. "people going being swept into alternate worlds and my yearning to have had the same happen to me."

      I can certainly see the appeal of that. I loved English at school, but I can easily appreciate that some texts we had to study, and how we studied them could turn people right off it, which is a crying shame, really,

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  2. This story is a metaphorical maze. I loved it but hated the character of Alice who seemed to suffer fools (herself) too often.
    I marvel at how it was and is mostly thought of as a "kids" story when it is almost inappropriate for children if they can get the underlying messages. It IS proper Uni reading but maybe not grade school except for the dumbed down cleansed version.

    The Matrix...I wonder how much the brothers realized the similarities when writing it??

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    1. Lots and lots going on there. As I said above, I'm not sure how well it hangs together as an actual story, but you could get lost in the ideas forever.

      The Wachowski brothers? I reckon they knew exactly what they were doing. For the first one, at least. As for the sequels, least said soonest mended, wouldn't you say?

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  3. "They’re not going to be making references to Quidditch in SF movies in the year 2125. If they’re still making movies then. Which they probably won’t be."

    Thank you. Just, thank you...

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    1. You are, as ever, most welcome :)

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  4. American McGee's Cheshire cat comes to mind when people mention Alice. McGee's cat resembles someone I know when she smiles. I'd rather she not. Her smiles are unnerving.

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    1. I was unaware of that version. and now, thanks to you and google, I am aware of it.

      I can see why you'd prefer your friend not to smile, if that's what she looks like while doing so...

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