“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” by Lewis Carroll were interesting books. The copy that I have features both books together and after much debate, I decided to review them that way. Once upon a time, I saw the cartoon movie of “Alice in Wonderland” but I never read the books as a kid and after having read them recently, I’m glad I didn’t try to dissect that madness when I was younger.
“Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, pg 105). I think this quote really says it all – this is a weird fucking book. There are parts that literally need to be read aloud to understand what Lewis Carroll was trying to say. And even then, you’re still fifty-fifty on understanding the nonsense that is littered throughout this novel.
“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” follow Alice as she follows the white rabbit and ends up on many crazy adventures. In “Through the Looking-Glass”, Alice falls through a mirror and has crazy adventures in a world where everything is backwards. If possible, this book is even more challenging to understand than the first. “That’s the effect of living backwards,” the Queen said kindly: “it always makes one a little giddy first – ” / “Living backwards!” Alice repeated in great astonishment. “I never heard of such a thing!” / “– but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.” / “I’m sure mine only works once way,” Alice remarked. “I can’t remember things before they happen.” / “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,” the Queen remarked.” (Through the Looking-Glass, pg 204). I liked this exchange. Here Alice is conversing with the White Queen, who is much kinder than the Red Queen who is infamous for ordering people’s heads off. Alice’s adventures with the White Queen are slightly less violent.
Although I found both books to be more than a little absurd, I enjoyed reading them. These books are quoted so often and so well known that it is worth reading them. I might even consider picking them up again. Would I recommend these books? Yes – but only to those willing to spend the extra time on the books. The complexity of Lewis Carroll’s work is evident from the start. The greatest challenge I faced while reading “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass” was slowing myself down. The language itself isn’t overly complicated, but the way that Lewis Carroll vomits all over the pages – that is what is difficult to decipher and what makes this a challenging read. It’s enjoyable, but certainly is not for everyone.