The purpose of this research is not to replace the joy of reading and analyzing the books yourself, but it is meant to be a helpful guideline to create your own understanding of this wonderful story.
To get deeper understanding of L.C. writings and style
To analyse phenomenon of the English literature fairy-tale genre
To show the book as the complex history of the author and his childish alter ego
To prove the immense influence of the book over the world literature heritage;
27 January 1832 Born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, the son of a country parson in Cheshire.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on January 27, 1832. His early years were happy with his nine sisters and two brothers to whom he frequently made up games and wrote stories. Childhood was the idyll Dodgson never quite recovered from, a parallel world where time stood still.
His school years at Rugby (1846-1849) were not so happy because he was shy and often sick. But he was still recognized as a good scholar in mathematics, and in 1850 he was admitted to Christ Church College in Oxford. He graduated in 1854, and was appointed a mathematical lecturer at the college the following year.
1854 Begins publishing poems and short stories in national publications.
Dodgson began writing at an early age. He was brilliant at writing prose as well as verse. The manuscripts display his talent and familiarity with nursery rhymes, classical poets, and William Shakespeare. Then he created the pseudonym "Lewis Carroll" by translating his first and middle names into Latin, reversing their order, then translating them back into English.
Due to his complex personality he appeared to be living a double life: the pragmatic world of the Oxford don and the secret shadowy world of fantasy.
Among adults Carroll was shy and reserved, but he did not avoid their company as he was also known for his unfailing good humor. He attended the theater frequently and was absorbed by photography and writing. After taking up photography in 1856, he soon found that his favorite subjects were children and famous people, including English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), Italian painter and poet D. G. Rossetti (1828–1882), and English painter John Millais (1829–1896).
1856 Meets and becomes friends with the new dean of Christ Church, Henry Liddell, and his daughters Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell.
In 1856 Dodgson met Lorina, Alice and Edith Liddell, daughters of Henry George Liddell, the Dean of Christ Church College in Oxford. He was happy in the company of children and Carroll, asked if children ever bored him, replied simply: ‘They are three-fourths of my life’.
During the next few years he spent a lot of time with the girls, photographed them and made up stories for them. On July 4, 1862, Dodgson was travelling on a boat to go to a picnic with a friend, Reverend Robinson Duckworth, and the Liddell girls. To keep the girls entertained Dodgson told them a story of a girl named Alice and her magical adventures under ground. Alice Liddel was the main inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. (Alice’s sisters appeared in the story as well.) Many of the characters are based on people Carroll and the Liddells knew: Alice Liddell's sisters Lorina and Edith have become as the Lory and the Eaglet in the Pool of Tears. And the Dodo is thought to represent Carroll himself, with his awkward way of talking and his long words. The girls loved the story, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. Later he expanded it with some adventures and left spaces for pictures of his own drawings. He called it "Alice's Adventures Under Ground". Dodgson presented the manuscript to Alice as a Christmas gift, on 26 November1864.
Later, Dodgson’s friend and novelist Henry Kingsley saw the manuscript and encouraged him to publish the book. Before doing so, Dodgson revised it by adding some chapters, poems, jokes and giving a new title "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland". Dodgson liked to draw himself, and originally wanted to use his own illustrations for the published edition but eventually he chose Sir John Tenniel, a cartoonist for the magazine ‘Punch’, to draw the illustrations.
4 July 1865 The book was published by Macmillan, exactly 3 years after the famous boat trip. The book received poor reviews but was an enormous commercial success and was said to be adored by Queen Victoria. It had not been out of print since.
http://www.macmillan.ru/events/detail.php?ID=72335&sphrase_id=65934 (video is here)
‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ is an imaginative fairy tale without fairies. Entering a strange land through a rabbit hole …growing bigger and smaller after eating a mushroom…and a speaking cat? In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice experiences many things that don’t happen in real life. Author Lewis Carroll created a Wonderland full of strange creatures and habbits, and nothing is what it seems.
Alice in Wonderland does not contain obvious moralizing tales like so many children's books nowadays do. It is a delightful adventure story in which a normal, healthy, little girl reacts to the reality of the adult world. Alice's intelligent responses to absurdities of language and her reactions to encountering the most enchanting characters are the reasons that make adults love Alice along with their children.
The book makes bold references to the practices and politics of the day and not always in a complimentary way. Having a direct relation to educational system, Carroll criticizes it, using different literary devices.
The Red Queen shook her head, "You may call it 'nonsense' if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"
The nonsense device involves playing with words and rhyme, writing riddles with no answers, and composing limericks that make no sense. Carroll cleverly uses nonsense to criticize the English school system with his character Alice as she constantly misapplies her rote-learned classroom teachings.
Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end? "I wonder how many miles I have fallen by this time?" she said aloud. "I must be getting somewhere near the centre of the earth. Let me see; that would be four thousand miles down, I think — " (for, you see, Alice had learnt several things of this sort in her lessons in the school-room, and though this was not a very good opportunity for showing off her knowledge, as there was no one to listen to her, still it was good practice to say it over) " — yes, that's about the right distance — but the I wonder what Latitude or Longitude I've got to?" (Alice had not the slightest idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either, but she thought they were nice grand words to say.)"
Alice has no idea what latitude and longitude actually mean, but still she tries to demonstrate her knowledge by using these terms incorrectly. Although she can remember the how many miles down until the center of the earth, she mistakenly believes that everything will be upside down when she passes through to the other side.
The goal of education in the Victorian period was to bring up a young Christian gentleman. This approach can be seen in Alice, as her behavior demonstrates obedience and safety. Carroll feels amusement at best, and utters contempt at worst, for this typically Victorian tendency, especially in his satirical characterization of the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland. "Everything's got a moral, if only you can find it" (70), says the Duchess. Alice's experience with her, however, makes the reader laugh at the absurdity of such a character.
Lewis Carroll was greatly frustrated by the chaotic nature of social, economic and religious change of that period and endlessly sought for order, just as his character Alice searches for order in this grotesque Wonderland. So, Alice must learn to play croquet in this grotesque and ridiculous way, with flamingos as mallets and hedgehogs as balls.
This scene, one of many in Alice in Wonderland, perhaps symbolizes the author's hopeless struggle and anxiety in his quest of meaning in a world full of chaos and absurdity comparable to that of Wonderland.
The most obvious theme that can be found in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is the theme of growing up.
Lewis Carroll adored the innocent way young children approach the world. With Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, he wanted to describe how a child sees an adult world, including all of the rules and social etiquette grownups created for themselves.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland represents the child's struggle to survive in the confusing world of adults. To understand the adult world, Alice has to overcome the open-mindedness that is characteristic for children.
Apparently, adults need rules to live by. But most people keep those rules blindly now, without asking themselves 'why'. This leads to the incomprehensible behavior that Alice experiences in Wonderland.
When entering Wonderland, Alice encounters a way of living and reasoning that is quite different from her own. A Duchess who is determined to find a moral in everything. Trials that seem to be very unjust. But during the journey through Wonderland, Alice learns to understand the adult world somewhat more. In fact, she is growing up. This is also represented by her physical changes during the story, the growing and shrinking.
More and more she starts to understand the creatures that live in Wonderland. From the Cheshire Cat she learns that 'everyone is mad here'. She learns to cope with the crazy Wonderland rules, and during the story she gets better in managing the situation. She tells the Queen of Hearts that her order is 'nonsense' and prevents her own beheading. In the end Alice has adapted and lost most of her vivid imagination that comes with childhood. She realizes what the creatures in Wonderland really are 'nothing but a pack of cards'. At this point, she has matured too much to stay in Wonderland, the world of the children, and wakes up into the 'real' world, the world of adults.
The British copyright on "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" expired in 1907. The story has been translated into over 125 different languages, including Korean, Japanese, Egyptian and Arabic. Hundreds of editions have been published ever since. Carroll’s book is much more than a book for thinking about: it is a book for thinking with. After the Bible, Koran and Shakespeare, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is the most frequently quoted and best known in the world.
These Quotes are Humorous and Enlightening,
a Wonderful Mix of Satire and Wisdom.
They are Quirky and Intriguing, Full of Meaning and Life’s Philosophy.
Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin; but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life! -Alice, page 53
Oh my fur and whiskers! -The White Rabbit, page 37
If everybody minded their own business, the world would go around a great deal faster than it does. -Duchess, page 50
Well, I never heard it before, but it sounds uncommon nonsense. -The Mock Turtle, page 76
“Who in the world am I?” is Alice’s refrain. It’s a question she answers when she meets the caterpillar on his mushroom. “I can’t explain myself,” she says, “because I’m not myself, you see.” The psychological grip in which Carroll holds his reader is all to do with a search for identity in which, he supplies more questions than answers. Possibly that reflects Dodgson’s unresolved dialogue with his own childhood. This dream-book is hypnotically nostalgic. Virginia Woolf identified this when she observed that “these are not books for children. They are the only books in which we become children”.
Wonderland is part of our cultural heritage - a shortcut for all that is beautiful and confusing; a metaphor used by artists, writers and politicians for 150 years. But beneath the fairy tale lies the complex history of the author and his subject: of Charles Dodgson, the quiet academic, and his second self, Lewis Carroll - storyteller, innovator and avid collector of 'child-friends'. And of his 'dream-child', Alice Liddell, and the fictional alter ego that would never let her grow up. This is their secret story: a history of love and loss, of innocence and ambiguity, and of one man's need to make Wonderland his refuge in a rapidly changing world.
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