Sunday, October 21, 2018

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: AND Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Classics)
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: AND Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Classics)
Penguin Classics, Paperback, 27 March, 2003
Authors: Lewis Carroll, Hugh Haughton, John Tenniel
ISBN: 0141439769
List Price: £5.99
New Price: £4.49
Used Price: £2.04
Third Party Price: £2.00
Availability: Usually dispatched within 24 hours
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Customer Reviews

Alice in Wonderland, through the looking glass and and what she found there
When I picked this up I was in need of something to easily get into. From the first page I was literally transported in Lewis Carrol's incredible world of "nonsense" and "weirdeness". Without wishing to reveal too much of the unusual plot, Alice follows a white rabbit into a wishing well to end up in Wonderland. During her stay, she meets infamous characters such as, the March Hare, Mad Hatter and the notourious Queen of Hearts, who, in their own way present Alice with forms of obscured logic and reflections of reality. 'The Mad Hatter's Tea Party' is truly exceptional writing as is the chapter, 'Who stole all the Tarts?'.
The second book, 'Through the Looking Glass' is perhaps more challenging in terms of riddles because it follows a totally ridiculous yet fantastic chess metaphor. For example characters 'Tweedledum and Tweedledee' leave you completely perplexed.
While initially aimed at children, Lewis Carrol's faultless depiction of the dream world can never fail to capture anybody of any age. In essence an utterly fantastic read that can be read over and over again. Surprisingly brilliant.

Pure genius
These are two of the greatest books ever written. They are, of course, not nonsense. They may have been written for children, but their appeal to any reasonably perceptive adult is so intense that those who have fallen under their spell can practically recite the entire texts of both. In fact, they constitute profoundly penetrating statements, or summaries, of the human condition: physical in Wonderland, and intellectual in Looking-Glass. They do not ramble. Every word, every incident, has been chosen with the utmost precision. Tenniel's illustrations are inspired perfection, and the result of prolonged and dedicated collaboration between author and artist. They will never be improved upon, although many have attempted to replace them with their own images. Wonderland is, in effect, an analysis of the significance and sensations of growth and discovery in the development of a human being, advancing from childhood into adolescence. Starting with the trauma of birth, it describes the experience of adjustment tothe world of adults, but succeeds nevertheless in demonstrating that adult society is nothing but a construction of charades --- a house of cards. Looking-Glass raises perennial philosophical questions, such as what is reality? what do words actually mean? what is the nature of time, and identity? Does the world consist of as much anti-matter as matter? It is an extraordinarily compressed summary of the riddles of thought and existence. These works are absolute masterpieces of writing: two of the most sophisticated productions ever penned during the late Victorian era. At the same time they are uniquely readable, witty and amusing.

A nice edition
There seems little point in describing at length the storyline of these books: despite never having previously read or to my knowledge seen the film adaptation as a 30-something year old first time reader so much of Alice in Wonderland is familiar I seem to have absorbed much of this through osmosis. Suffice to say the books are a heady mix of nonsense, word play, poetry and some occasionally painful puns. I slightly preferred the 2nd Alice book as it had a better structure thanks to the underlying story of Alice being a pawn in a chess game, whereas the first novel is very rambling. This is a great edition though, with all the original illustrations and an illuminating essay concerning the creation of the books and the authors’ frankly disturbing interest in young children. Fantastic enough to be enjoyed by children, while the use of language ensures adults can still get a great deal of fun out of this.

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