Monday, February 1, 2016

Reading Challenge 2016: The Annotated Alice (works by Lewis Carroll)

Week 5:  A classic novel

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition 
by: Lewis Carroll, notes by Martin Gardner

The Annotated Alice contains three works by Carroll: Alice's Adventures in WonderlandThrough the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, and The Wasp in a Wig. I will look at each of these in turn.

Tales, Not My Favorite; Scholarship, Top Notch

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

As I just saw Disney's movie based off the book for the first time a couple weeks ago, it was very fresh in my memory. I must say, I was rather impressed by the movie's accurate portrayal of the book, for the most part (there was no Tweedle-Dee and Tweele-Dum, no flower garden, no going through the forest in the book, and the movie lacked the scene with the Duchess and with the Mock Turtle). Quite a few lines were direct quotations from the book, which is always appreciated.

The book really is a nonsense book, though. I'm not sure what I expected, but I didn't expect it to be so close to the movie rendition!

3 stars

Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found

If possible, this work is even stranger and more nonsense filled than the last! In the first things were bizarre, but there was still a sense of normal-ness. Here, characters change into creatures and she's suddenly where she wasn't in the blink of an eye. This story is much more dream-like than the first. Through the Looking Glass does contain the scenes with the flower garden & with Tweedle-Dee and Tweele-Dum found in Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Still considered a classic work, but not my favorite cup of tea.

2.5 stars, rounded to 3 because of its cultural impact (it is here that famous poem Jabberwocky makes it's public appearance)

The Wasp in a Wig

This short episode was undiscovered for around 100 years after Lewis' death. Scholars knew it had, at one point, existed, but they knew nothing of it. It originally was a part of Through the Looking Glass, near the end of the book. These few pages were left out, it is believed, in part because it made a particular chapter too long.

This is honestly probably my favorite scene from the book - and it didn't make the cut! I love the humanity of it and the lack of other weirdness most of the chapter exhibit.

5 stars

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition

A good half of this book is sidebar notes on the texts of these works by Carroll. I readily admit I did not read all the notes - as this was my first time reading these works it was cumbersome to the story to forever be directing my attention away from the story itself. I did read some notes, though, and found them very interesting. It is no wonder that this is a bestseller on Amazon! These books are not ones that have made it to my re-read shelf, and I don't feel the need to have them in my personal library. That said, if I were to own them, it would be in this edition. What I read of the scholarly work is fantastic and interesting! I definitely think anyone who is familiar with these tales, interested in literature, or a fan of Carroll would love this definitive edition of his works.

5 stars

Overall, The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition averages 4 stars.

This review appears as a part of the Reading Challenge 2016. To see other books in the challenge, click here.

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