Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Author: Lewis Carroll / Illustrated by John Tenniel / first published in 1866 by Macmillan and Co. of London, this edition is published by Books of Wonder, New York / with afterword by Peter Glassman / Copyright 1992 / Hardbound, 196 pages
I first met Alice when I was a school child, in our library at home. It was one of the titles excerpted in a special collection. It was a strikingly lyrical work, the absurd lines rolling off the tongue in happy cadences.
Even as a child, I understood that Lewis Carroll was a genius.
Alice’s world felt totally strange but oddly familiar at the same time. Now I see why — it’s a world that we see when we close our eyes and go to sleep, worlds that disappear into the wisps of daylight when we are awakened from our slumber.
My mother always had a difficult time waking me up in the morning for school, partly because I often wanted to see how my childish dream stories will end. By the time I showered and brushed my teeth, the stories would have evaporated into thin air. I have forgotten.
This book is a remembering. It is the work of artists who had the gift of remembering.
And when I saw this beautiful edition from Books of Wonder, I was grateful. That it had all the wondrously detailed original illustrations by John Tenniel was such a gift for any reader and lover of books. I held that book and could not let go. The pages were crisp and smooth, the edges golden. Every turn of the page was a sublime joy.
The publisher of course also offered Carroll’s next Alice book, “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There”, which they did with silver edges (228 pages). I also got that for my library, of course.
These books are for reading out loud to your children or to yourself. It is the kind of book that you will be re-reading over and over again. The adventures are thrilling, the characters absurd and bizarre, the humor shockingly unpatronising to children.
From Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper
“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”