I’ve come to a conclusion. I don’t like Alice in Wonderland. I enjoy it in theory. The curious young girl follows a rabbit down a hole, landing in a magical land full of strange, wonderful creatures and people. But then I sit down and actually read it. Last time I read it in Spring of ’08, I read Carroll’s version aloud with Amber and I remember expecting to enjoy it more than I did. This time I read the book I have had since I was about 7, thinking that maybe a retold version, complete with beautiful full color illustrations would bring back the childhood wonderment. It didn’t.
I don’t even think I can summarize the story. Alice falls down the rabbit, there’s a hall full of doors, she gets smaller and bigger and smaller, there’s a flood and Alice insults some of the other animals that become stranded on the shore. They have a “race” then Alice is sent off to the rabbit’s house. Big again, small again. She meets a caterpillar, a duchess with a pig baby, a grinning cat, has a tea party with a mad hatter, plays croquet with the Queen of Hearts, meets the Mock Turtle, and attends a trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing tarts. Finally, she wakes up and it’s all been a dream.
I just don’t get it. I’m sure there are all kinds of symbols and themes, but to be honest they’re lost on me. It’s all nonsense. It’s a different world, a dream world, but nothing in it makes sense even within this other world. Events are random, people are crazy but in different ways, the mad hatter is holding a ve tea party and the queen is obsessed with executing her subjects. And the trial is a ridiculous farce, but never makes me smile. Alice herself can be a brat, sure that her way is the only correct way. I don’t find the characters amusing or delightful, creepy maybe. They make me furrow my brow just thinking about them.
I will admit that I missed the short verses and song lyrics which were left out of this retelling even if they didn’t make a whole lot of sense. They added a bit of charm to the original.
I was talking to my husband, David, about the story last night. I commented that I just don’t enjoy the story and asked him what I was missing. His reply: “A wild imagination.” Maybe he’s got a point. Maybe I need more logic even in my fantasy, characters who have more dimensions even in my juvenile literature.
I will continue to treasure my book though, even if some stories are truly for children.
As a side note, I really enjoyed Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, but it’s an entirely different story. There can really be little comparison.
Tif, from Tif Talks Books, is the hostess of this great feature, Fairy Tale Fridays. Head over there later today to see what she has to say about Alice in Wonderland and to share your own thoughts. Next week’s theme is “A Fairy Tale Flick.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol was first published in 1865
Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland retold by Jane Carruth was published in 1976
My copy was given to me as a gift and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.