Saturday, 1 July 2017

Alice's adventures in wonderland - Lewis Carroll (book review)

Alice's adventures in wonderland - Lewis Carroll (book review)
year - 1865

Image result for alice s adventures in wonderlandAlice's adventures in wonderland, or better known by its more commonly movie coined named Alice in wonderland, is a fantasy novel that is often considered  a classic by many, even being one of Queen Victoria's favourite stories.

The story doesn't follow a coherent plot, switching from place to place randomly, at times it follows a pattern but definitely not always. Carroll's writing finds its strengths in the creativity of his imagination, explaining Wonderland but never going into an immense amount of detail, leaving the reader guessing and using their own imagination, however Carroll didn't need to use such detail in his writing as he included 37 illustrations within the novel, while this is a good way to shortcut long drawn out explanations of the weird and wonderful creatures of his novel it can also be problematic, for example many cheaper prints of the book (one I happen to have) do not include the illustrations meaning that without the internet a reader would have no idea what a Mock Turtle is, as a proper description is never given, however this is not a fault of the novel as it was clearly intended to be printed with said illustrations, this is purely a fault of a publisher.

The plot of Alice's adventures in Wonderland is an odd journey which, when broken down, is just about a girl trying to fit in and figure out who she really is, this obviously being made very clear through Carroll's overt symbolism of literal transformation as the protagonist goes from the size of a mouse to that of a house several times throughout the novel. It's a simple message intertwined into crazy events such as a tea party hosted by a Hatter with his animal friends.
Carroll was clearly not aiming to make a deep fantasy plot that later writers such as Tolkien did as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is clearly a children's fantasy story but is so great in it's light tone and madness that adults enjoy the novel still to this day. Many modern interpretations of this novel take the meaning as more dark and malicious, with Carroll's potential paedophilia and drug addiction and while yes, they are important factors, a reader must remember that this story contains nothing outrageous in its content, the only thing that can be considered particularly immoral is the context of the writer and his personal life, not the book itself. Don't let Tim Burton's gothic interpretation in his recent movie fool you, Lewis Carroll's novel is a children's tale that has stood the test of time and become a phenomenon  in pop culture.

A novel that is not about character development or a detailed plot, instead Carroll created a novel that relies heavily on word play to create its brilliant comedic effects, similarly to how Shakespeare does in Twelfth night through Feste, Carroll has moments where he questions and plays with language, sometimes just throwing a random poem into the story for fun. For a man who's profession was actually a mathematician, Carroll knew how to play with the English language in a way that was witty and dry, reinforcing the traditional style of "English comedy". While not a laugh out loud experience, Alice's adventures in Wonderland is clever in the same way Shakespeare was clever in his writing, obviously Carroll was not on the same level of Shakespeare however he clearly shows a defined and mastered skill of wordplay that Shakespeare popularised and in some cases - created.

An innocent tale that people of all ages can enjoy, those older can pick out the language effects and laugh at that, those younger can laugh at the very idea of a disappearing Cheshire Cat or playing croquet with Flamingos, truly a universal novel being an easy but enjoyable read. An undeniable classic.

Daniel A. Clarke

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