Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It never occurred to me that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,  by Lewis Carroll, would be considered a classic, until I saw it listed by so many readers on The Classics Club blog.   I never read the original version, and I wanted to read it to my children.  Before this, however, I relied on rumors about the book: "Alice in Wonderland is about drugshence, the name of the journal by Anonymous, Go Ask Alice."  I read that book a dozen times in junior high, and talking about it now makes me want to read it all over again

But I am convinced that Alice in Wonderland is not about drugs, at all.  How silly!  It is an adventure story for children about dreams.  Well, it's not about dreams, but it is about what happens in our dreams, or even while daydreaming. When we are aware of our dreaming, we can explore our surroundings and push the limits of our adventures knowing we are safe and secure in our minds, which is exactly what Alice did.  

The copy I read to my kids was a picture book, illustrated by Oleg Lipchenko.   His artwork demonstrates a dream-like effect separate from reality.

I thought it was a perfect adventure story of uncertainty - minus the peril and danger - for children.  My only complaint was reading it aloud.  Given that the story is peculiar and ludicrous, strange and unrealistic, the sentences do not roll naturally off of the tongue.  I had actually felt tongue-tied after two chapters.  

Of course, I had to share this Tom Petty music video with my kids because it incorporated parts of the story in silly ways; my kids played it so much, it was stuck in my head for three days. Maybe we will watch a film version of the book next, but not Disney, though.  Any suggestions?


  1. Yes, Alice in Wonderland is certainly a classic! I hope you'll read the companion book, Through the Looking-Glass, as well. Boy is there a lot of chess in that story. I also have my doubts about the drug imagery, but if it does exist, it's supposed to be in the bit about "drink me" and "eat me" and the resulting changes. I don't know if it was any big deal until Jefferson Airplane had their hit, "White Rabbit," which really is all about drugs, and "Go Ask Alice" is a line from the song.

    It's a great book, and the Annotated Alice is a really interesting read too, full of good information. I don't know if I've ever seen a good movie adaptation. Disney is really not bad for a Disney adaptation. I haven't seen the Tim Burton film from a couple years ago--I might watch it sometime but I have little faith in Tim Burton's ability to interpret anything but Tim Burton.

  2. That's right: it was JS and that song, "White Rabbit." And the book was connected to the song b/c of the lyrics. Now I remember.

    I will certainly look into reading Through the Looking-Glass. I'm sure the kids will love that, too. Thanks for letting me know.

    As for the movie, I'll have to do some research. That's true about Burton.

  3. After having read the book myself, it was great reading your perspective.
    Wonderful book and it surprised me too!

  4. This is our favorite book, my 11 years old girl and mine. Many say it looks like the author was on drugs or something, but I don't see it like that. Even the drink me eat me references, I consider many fantasy books contain their share of potions, etc. It's a daydreaming fiction that in my eyes, has lots of language play, philosophical questions, political satire, and above all, good plain fantasy, but I have to agree Alice has its fans, and those who "don't get it", not that there is anything to "get", but there is something to "feel". I don't feel that with, for example, Harry Potter, but I have not seriously pursued it, since other books call my attention more.

    We like Tim Burton's movie as a Tim Burton's movie, lol, but we kind of treat movies as a bit separate from the books, same for other book/movie combos we like but not because we find them particularly loyal to the book, such as Mary Poppins and Charlie and the chocolate..., we like the classic one and Tim Burton's too. Those movies are psychedelic, yes, imo., but again, we like the imagination trip without the drugs, LOL.

    1. I agree. It's all about imagination or day dreaming. I still have not watched the Burton film version. I'm not a big film person, but I am sure my kids would want to watch it, if I suggested it.

  5. Oh, and I have the annotated but have not read from it. Next time we'll do it from it.