Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I re-read this (and some other) classic children’s books during my two months “bed rest” and I enjoyed it. To clarify before you start jumping to conclusions - I just read this one, and not Through The Looking Glass, which came next and had the Jabberwocky in it.

Alice starts off being spectacularly bored by her older sister, as any child would be on a beautiful afternoon when there are more interesting things to do than read a book...so she drifts off for a minute until she is startled awake by the White Rabbit. I’m going to assume you know the story. Everyone does.

It’s not surprising that as I read I heard the soft voice and saw the cartoony characters that Disney put on the screen decades ago. And then I realized something when I was about halfway through the book…it had been Disneyfied! Lewis Carroll was on (HAD to have been, but I haven’t done the research. Forgive me) drugs. Opium, maybe? The caterpillar was. And it’s the only way to explain the baby turning into a pig (left out by Disney.)

I was also struck by how RUDE all of the adults were and how creepy everyone else was. I’ve had some weird dreams lately (yay hormones) but Wonderland puts them all the shame. Which is why the reader is never quite sure if Alice dreams it all or if it actually happens - which is one of the common threads I’ve found in the books that last: where the author decides that the reader is smart enough to figure it out.

That doesn’t mean that this book isn’t dated, because it is. Who curtseys anymore, when they’re not meeting the queen? The language and the lessons place it squarely in the place and time in which it was written, but that only adds to the magic and mystery of Wonderland. A lost little girl speaking a language that sounds like English but which isn’t as familiar as our own English encountering people who in turn are speaking an even less sensical version of the language. If you think too hard on it your brain might turn to mush.

It’s a short little book, and filled with lovely woodblock illustrations - I do recommend reading it before heading to the theatre to see the Tim Burton version. Relying on Disney as the yardstick against which to measure it...well, that will only leave you wanting.

Click here for the trailer of what could be the best possible cinematic interpretation.

This is only slightly related to the book, it's more of a family drama in which wonderland plays a role, but I watched it and I feel that everyone should.

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