Rating: 4/4 (Remains a most fantastic dream trip to this day!)
There are a few memories from childhood which remain vivid to this day. One of them is possessing and reading a hardcover copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This children novel by Lewis Carroll was presented by my dad and I was proud because it was one of the first unabridged novels I read. A little while after this, it would fall into the vicious hands of a cousin, who merrily proceeded to mercilessly vandalize its every page! With age the memory of this book has only grown fonder and I have kept an eye out for this particular edition of the book everywhere, but the search has been futile! 😐
“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” – The King of Hearts
On a whim, I recently picked up a 1950 edition by Arcadia House to re-read this classic. There is a certain comfort in reading a well worn tale. Alice falls down a rabbit-hole and lands in a Wonderland. She comes across magical drinks, cakes and mushrooms, which when consumed cause her to grow or shrink in size. She meanders through this Wonderland without any purpose, talking and meeting with its creatures. Some of these creatures have now become eponymous in English literature. The Cheshire Cat is probably the most famous, with his transparent appearance, calm demeanour and magical smile. The White Rabbit is always hurrying about, checking his pocket watch for the time and always late for his next appointment. The mad trio of the March Hare, the (Mad) Hatter and the Dormouse, who are stuck in a weird time-warp where it is always tea time. The coolest creature is probably the Caterpillar who sits on a mushroom sucking on a hookah! And finally the Queen of Hearts who tries to behead anyone she does not like.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland unfailingly brings up a dream universe when reading it. Much like a dream, the story has no direction of any sort, things just happen. This is not surprising since the story was conceived by Carroll to entertain a few kids on a boat journey. The conversations between Alice and the creatures are both non-sense and profound at the same time. The reader can imagine quaint metaphors for every little scene or incident in the book.
“I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself, you see.” – Alice
Like all modern editions, this Arcadia House publication too lumps together the sequel Through the Looking-Glass along with the original. I tried reading the sequel, but gave up. It is neither fun nor easy to read. It is hard to imagine that the same Lewis Carroll wrote that one or that a kid could enjoy it. The original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland remains a most fantastic dream trip to this day! 🙂
“We’re all mad here.” – Cheshire Cat