Book title – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Author – Lewis Carroll
Format – Hardcover
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the most famous and enduring children’s classics. Published in 1865 with its fantastical tales and riddles, it became one of the most popular works of English-language fiction. The novel is full of whimsical charm, and a feeling for the absurd that is unsurpassed. The book begins with young Alice, bored, sitting by a river, reading a book with her sister. Then Alice catches sight of a small white figure, a rabbit dressed in a waistcoat and holding a pocket watch, murmuring to himself that he is late. She runs after the rabbit and follows it into a hole. After falling into the depths of the earth, she finds herself in a corridor full of doors. At the end of the corridor, there is a tiny door with a tiny key through which Alice can see a beautiful garden that she is desperate to enter. She then spots a bottle labelled “Drink me” (which she does) and begins to shrink until she is small enough to fit through the door. Carroll’s book is episodic and reveals more in the situations that it contrives than in any serious attempt at plot or character analysis. Like a series of nonsense poems or stories created more for their puzzling nature or illogical delightfulness, the events of Alice’s adventure are her encounters with incredible but immensely likeable characters. Carroll was a master of toying with the eccentricities of language. The book reaches its climax in the trial of the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. A good deal of nonsense evidence is given against the unfortunate man, and a letter is produced which only refers to events by pronouns (but which is supposedly damning evidence). Alice, who by now has grown to a great size, stands up for the Knave and the Queen, predictably, demands her execution. As she is fighting off the Queen’s card soldiers, Alice awakes, realizing she has been dreaming all along.
One feels that Carroll is never more at home than when he is playing, punning, or otherwise messing around with the English tongue. Although the book has been interpreted in numerous ways, from an allegory of semiotic theory to a drug-fuelled hallucination, perhaps it is this playfulness that has ensured its success over the last century. The book is brilliant for children, but with enough hilarity and joy for life in it to please adults too, this is a lovely book with which to take a brief respite from our overly rational and sometimes dreary world. By the end of the 19th century, this novel had become the most popular children’s book in England, and within two more decades, it was among the most popular storybooks in the world. It has since, inspired numerous films, theatrical performances, and ballets as well as countless works of scholarly analysis.