Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Recently, I downloaded the Kindle for PC application to my laptop, in order to obtain an ebook I won. In doing so, I discovered a treasure trove of free ebooks for the Kindle available, so I will occasionally be reading and reviewing these.

As a child, my only exposure to Alice in Wonderland was the Disney film. I knew enough of the original story to catch passing references to its contents, and I saw both the recent SyFy reimagining and the Tim Burton film version. So, I had a pretty good idea what I was getting myself into.

We all know the general story. Alice follows the white rabbit down the rabbit hole. She alternately grows larger or smaller depending on what she is ingesting at the moment. She meets a March Hare and a Mad Hatter, a Chesire Cat, some other strange characters, and then of course there is the deck of cards motif, what with the Queen, King, and Knave of Hearts, and all the playing card subjects and soldiers.

It puzzles me that this is considered a child's story, because so much of the symbolism and satire is lost on children. To a child, this is just a silly make believe tale of amusement. In all actuality, this book was a satirical look at life in the time it was written, as well as playing with common words, phrases, and literary pieces of the times. Also, the literary style is quite different than that of which we are accustomed, in that this story has no real denouement, and no real climax for that matter.

Still, I did enjoy this book, and it made me want to learn more about the literary style of the time in which it was written. As a silly fairy tale type story, this is a perfectly acceptable story for children ages 8-12, any earlier and I would fear it may alternately disturb or bore them. For adult readers, in order to really enjoy it, I think one must take into consideration the story's place within literary history, and analyze it with that in mind. All in all, not bad for a book I was able to obtain for free.


  1. I read this one because the movie was coming out in the theater. I too had never read it before. But I found it quite interesting (my review is here: http://ouryearinbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/whimsy-in-wonderland-or-how-i-learned.html). Have you read Saki's take on the Alice in Wonderland stories which are actual satires of actual political figures at the time? It is enjoyable without knowing any of the figures, but I am sure it will be much improved upon reading about the "real" stuff.

  2. I remember I read this a long ago while still in school. I read it because I loved an animated film of Alice Through the Looking Glass. Sad, to say I didn't enjoy the book and regretted very much reading it. Too much symbolism perhaps ? :-)