Carroll, Lewis

About the Author:

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a mathematics don at Christ Church, Oxford, who had been born in 1832.  He created his most enduring character, Alice, whilst telling stories to entertain a young girl of that name as they were boating in 1862.  Dodgson died in 1898.



2 out of 5

(1 book)

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland And Through The Looking Glass

An omnibus edition containing both of Carroll's stories which focus on the precocious young girl Alice as she dreams her way into fantastical lands filled with eccentric personalities and bizarre creatures.

I have a particular interest in both children's fantasy stories and 19th Century literature and therefore was looking forward to exploring this book which is so ingrained into popular culture.  I was immensely disappointed.

The simple truth is that, as an adult reader, there is very little to enjoy about this book.  These stories were specifically intended to be a full of nonsense and, in that at least, Carroll succeeds brilliantly.  There is no internal logic or narrative flow as Alice bounces from one inexplicable encounter to the next with no actual plot stringing any of the happenings together.  The characters she meets are mostly deeply irritating and inexplicably smug and there's altogether too many references to now-defunct 19th Century nursery ryhmes.  It was a genuine chore to read.

There are only two reasons that I've given this book two out of five instead of one.  The first of these reasons is that, from a literary point of view, Carroll was a pioneer of using nonsense to subvert language and some of the instances of this, particularly in 'Through the Looking Glass', show genuine brilliance.

The other reason, albeit linked to the first, is the poem 'Jabberwocky'.  This poem features lilting rythmns and nonsense words that lure you into feeling that, with a bit of concentration, you could actually make total sense of what was being said.  Because of this, despite not actually understanding the majority of the poem, you still get a sense of having understood its narrative.  Very cleverly done.

Sadly, one good poem and a couple of good word plays doesn't make for a good book.  I would recommend spending your time far more enjoyably by watching Disney's classic animated adaption (the less said about Tim Burton's efforts, the better).

2 out of 5


Fantasy (here)