To say that both works are novels is like saying that a fruit cup is a dessert (oh, the humanity!) or that raisins are candy (no, just no). A friend on Facebook mentioned that one should read Carroll expecting to find a puzzle and not a story. Yes, there isn't a clear plot to the novels. What I felt as I was reading Carroll was that he was making things up along the way. Hmmmm. . . I wonder if there's any truth to my theory. I've read somewhere that Carroll made up these stories for the daughter of the dean of his college. That daughter's name? Alice.
But what glorious imagination Carroll has! I must give him that. I guess when you rid yourself of the stress of thinking up a plot, it frees up brain space so you can think of very inventive characters, yes? I love the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the grinning Cheshire cat, the Duchess, the Mock Turtle, the Caterpillar and the March Hare! I'd love them more if I knew what they were all about though. But, as always, I take what I can get.
|I play the Mad Hatter.|
Actually, the hats prevented me from scratching my head.
'I quite agree with you,' said the Duchess; 'and the moral of that is – "Be what you would seem to be" – or, if you'd like it put more simply – "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise." '
–page 79, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
'You couldn't have it if you did want it,' the Queen said. 'The rule is jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.'
'It must come sometimes to "jam to-day",' Alice objected.
'No, it ca'n't,' said the Queen. 'It's jam every other day: to-day isn't any other day, you know.'
–page 172, Through the Looking Glass
|I play the Mad Hatter, again.|
Because green is my color of the moment.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'
–page 131, Through the Looking Glass
|And yet again, I play the Mad Hatter.|
I'd do anything to ham it up with a fez.
All right, I didn't find Carroll as enjoyable as I hoped he would be. As children's stories, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are puzzling to say the least. The characters though, they're another matter. They're the stuff of wonderful childhood dreams.
Read this book if:
- You like a little bit of gibberish every now and then.
- You love all the Alice movies.
- You fell through a hole at one point in your life.