Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

This review is for the Once Upon a Time Challenge V.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll in 1865 is a tale about Alice, a girl who while sitting by a river with her sister spies a talking white rabbit.  (Please note that this summary gives away the ending, so if you are not familiar with the story, please proceed with caution.)  She follows the rabbit and ends up falling down a rabbit hole.  She lands in a fantasy world that is filled with many strange and anthropomorphic animals.  While in this fantasy world, Alice meets many memorable characters that have become quite popular.  These include, but are not limited to the White Rabbit, Bill the Lizard, the Caterpillar, the Hatter, and the King and Queen of Hearts.  Not only is this fantasy world populated by bizarre creatures, Alice learns that everything is nonsensical.  There isn’t logic.  Inexplicable things keep happening to her, such as growing and shrinking as if by magic.  To complicate matters for Alice, words do not make much sense to her.  The story ends with Alice having to give evidence at a trial and in frustration over the absurdity of the trial she accuses the King and Queen and their guards of being just playing cards.  Alice suddenly wakes up from the dream and relates her tales to her sister.

This novel had a great impact on the development of fantasy novels.  These fantastical events are not the only enduring quality of the work.  The author’s use of “logic” has intrigued not only children but adults over the years.  When in attendance at the tea party, the Hatter asks Alice “Why is a raven like a writing desk?”  Carroll never intended this riddle to be solvable.  However, due to many requests by readers, Carroll tried to offer an answer in the preface to the 1896 edition stating: “Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!”.   Please note how he spelled nevar.   Can you figure out why? It spells raven backwards.  Throughout the tale, Alice encounters many twists of logic and she begins to question everything she has learned.  Science and order are missing from this new world.

Before embarking on this challenge I looked up some famous novels that fell into the fantasy genre.  I was surprised to see Alice’s Adventures not only listed as an example, but as an influential work.  I have been familiar with this work via movies and Disney most of my life, but I had never lumped it into this genre.  What else will I learn from The Once Upon a Time Challenge?

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast (lesbianswhowrite.com) with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (iheartlesfic.com), a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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6 Responses to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

  1. Grace says:

    Excellent review. I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; in fact, my blog got it’s name from a quote from the book.

    Carroll’s characters are at the same time both bizarre and endearing. I want to meet the hookah-smoking caterpillar and then go to a mad tea party.

  2. Thanks Grace. Carroll did indeed create some fun and memorable characters. No wonder this book has never been out of print.

  3. Carl V. says:

    If you ever feel so inclined I would highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner. It is the full text of both novels with numerous annotations and it is fascinating. You quickly realize in reading it just how clever Carroll was and it is fascinating from a historical perspective in that the work contains many references and in-jokes that we simply don’t get today because we are not reading it from the cultural perspective of the time it was written in. It is a beautiful copy of the book too, which makes it well worth owning.

  4. Thanks for the tip!

  5. bookworm says:

    Great review. I just finished reading this one myself and am reading gthrough the Looking Glass next. Thanks for posting the answer to the raven riddle!

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