Friday, 10 April 2009
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll
I was disappointed by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. So much has been made of them, and I expected a lot, but pretty quickly I was left under whelmed. The problem, as I see it, is that all the glorious characters such as the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare and so forth, the ones who have made it into popular folklore, are barely involved in the plot. Fantastic, delightful creations though they are, we meet them for only a brief moment, and then they are gone and we are on to the next adventure. I found the pace of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland frustratingly fast. The plot jumps around like a jack-in-a-box on speed, you never have a second to catch up and enjoy what is happening. There are great ideas for characters, but you never get a chance to find out how great they are because they do not stick around long enough. My personal favourite was the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon. At least they had a whole chapter to themselves! They made me laugh, they made me think – if I was 6 I think they may have opened a whole world for me. And for once, I had enough time to get to know them, to feel comfortable in their presence.
I don’t really understand how these characters have captured people’s imaginations so. It’s a cool idea to have a cat with invisible powers and a Cheshire grin, but he doesn’t really do anything else. Similarly the Mad Hatter is slightly barmy, and wears a big hat as he makes his absurd pronouncements, but that’s about it. Because of this, I preferred Alice Through the Looking Glass, I had no expectations and the plot moved a little slower.
It is not that Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is in any way bad. Far from it. It is witty, and joyful. The playfulness of the language is an absolute joy, second to no book I have ever read. It is thunderously funny and laugh-out-loud ingenious. Every single page is crammed with witty word play and smart remarks. And Alice Through the Looking Glass is even more barmy than Alice in Wonderland!
I suspect that to truly appreciate these two Alice books, one must read them as a child or with a child. You can see why they have stood the test of time, because they are magical, inspirational, and challenging. I could almost picture the joy on a child’s face as they read them. I cannot wait until I have children of my own, and can share that joy. But as an adult discovering them for first time, I was a little disappointed.
6.5 out of 10