In honour of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland turning 150(!), I decided it was high time I gave it a read. I’ve seen the animated Disney movie and the Tim Burton live action, and as a kid I had an abridged picture book (with insanely freakish illustrations), but I’d never read the original. It was…interesting.
It’s definitely very clever with sneaky wordplay and funny puns. I could see how it would be good read aloud. It’s no wonder this book is so quotable.
But there is a reason Alice is classified in the “nonsense” genre. It succeeded in creating a dreamlike quality, skipping all over often without a thread. For me, it got a bit wandery—I found my eyes glazing over in several chapters. My favourite scene was far and away the tea party, though, with my favourite character being the Hatter. In a weird way this scene made the most sense in a nonsensical world and felt more fleshed out.
While I enjoyed a lot of the secondary (and iconic) characters, Alice got on my nerves. She’s really not smart. True, she’s young and so has a different understanding of how the world works, but I don’t care how young you are, you don’t drink an unlabeled bottle just to find out what it is! That’s how you wind up dead. Clearly Alice wasn’t taught the “don’t you put it in your mouth” jingle.
The illustrations (by Sir John Tenniel) were really interesting—and necessary. I found it quite curious that the guards weren’t described as playing cards until after the illustration in the edition I was reading. Because of the movies, I knew they were cards right away, but it makes me wonder how people reading the book 150 years ago reacted to this.
I’ve decided literary nonsense isn’t exactly my cup of cocoa but I’m glad I read it. My curiosity is momentarily sated.
♥ ♥ ½ (2.5/5 hearts)