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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Barnes  &  Noble Classics)
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Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 1593083459
ISBN-13: 9781593083458
Publisher: Barnes & Noble Classics
Release Date: January, 2005
Length: 320 Pages
Weight: 1.05 pounds
Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.7 X 1.3 inches
Language: English
   
   

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass (Barnes & Noble Classics)

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That Alice. When she's not traipsing after a rabbit into Wonderland, she's gallivanting off into the topsy-turvy world behind the drawing-room looking glass. In Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll's masterful and zany sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, she makes more eccentric acquaintances, including Tweedledee and...
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55

Customer Reviews

  "Curiouser and curiouser!"

My first exposure to Lewis Carroll's classic children's story was through the 1951 Disney film adaptation "Alice in Wonderland," which I watched repeatedly as a child. The creative quality of the story never failed to fascinate me, and I kept going back despite my deep-rooted terror of the frightful Queen of Hearts, who always gave me nightmares! However, it was not until recently, as an adult, that I ever picked up the book/s upon which that film was based. In some ways I wish I had read it when I was younger, as the book certainly makes a great deal more sense than the movie does (as much sense as a story of this sort can, anyhow), but thankfully this book is unique in that it is just as enjoyable for adults as for children.

The story is actually spread across two books, here contained in a single volume. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was first published in 1865 and relates the events that take place after young Alice falls asleep during her lessons and dreams of following a white rabbit down a rabbit hole. Alice encounters all manner of strange creatures in her dream, and finds herself in all sorts of curious predicaments where common sense fails and the nonsensical comes to be expected. There is no central, concrete storyline, but rather Alice moves rapidly from one bizarre situation to the next before waking once more and relating the whole adventure to her sister.

The second of the two books, "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There," appeared in 1871 and is very similar in nature to the first, though having a slightly different plot. Here Alice steps through an ordinary looking-glass one day, only to find herself in a world where, if you wish to get anywhere, you must walk in the opposite direction! Walking toward your desired destination only gets you further and further away. Also, interestingly, the land which Alice has entered is essentially a giant chessboard, and she must move through the different squares to reach the other side if she wishes to become a queen (which she does).

The characters Carroll created in these two stories are some of the most strikingly unique and unforgettable in the world of literature. Alice herself, based largely on Alice Liddell, a real-life child of whom Carroll was very fond, is a wonderful heroine that you can't help admiring. Throughout all of her backwards and upside-down adventures, she remains ever sensible and analytical, always trying to reason her way out of the most unreasonable situations. Other characters a reader won't soon forget include the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, Bill the Lizard, the Caterpillar, the Duchess and her peppery cook, the aforementioned Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon, the Red and White Queens, the talking flowers, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, and the Red and White Knights. Carroll also created many fascinating new creatures in his stories, including bread-and-butterflies, rocking-horseflies, "slithy toves," "mome raths" and more.

What I find most intriguing, as an adult reader of these books, is Carroll's brilliant use of wordplay and symbolism throughout the stories. Nearly everything has some sort of double meaning. There are hidden messags and subtle witticisms on every page. Carroll also includes several parodies of what were well-known songs and rhymes in England at the time. Young children will love the books for their fantastic qualities and imaginative inspiration, but most readers will not pick up on the many puns and jokes until they are a little older, so these stories really do have something to offer to anyone, no matter what age. I'd highly recommend the book to any reader - and be sure to get an edition that includes the original illustrations.

This review refers to the 2004 Barnes & Noble Classics printing, with introduction and notes by Tan Lin.
 
  "Curiouser and curiouser!"

My first exposure to Lewis Carroll's classic children's story was through the 1951 Disney film adaptation "Alice in Wonderland," which I watched repeatedly as a child. The creative quality of the story never failed to fascinate me, and I kept going back despite my deep-rooted terror of the frightful Queen of Hearts, who always gave me nightmares! However, it was not until recently, as an adult, that I ever picked up the book/s upon which that film was based. In some ways I wish I had read it when I was younger, as the book certainly makes a great deal more sense than the movie does (as much sense as a story of this sort can, anyhow), but thankfully this book is unique in that it is just as enjoyable for adults as for children.

The story is actually spread across two books, here contained in a single volume. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was first published in 1865 and relates the events that take place after young Alice falls asleep during her lessons and dreams of following a white rabbit down a rabbit hole. Alice encounters all manner of strange creatures in her dream, and finds herself in all sorts of curious predicaments where common sense fails and the nonsensical comes to be expected. There is no central, concrete storyline, but rather Alice moves rapidly from one bizarre situation to the next before waking once more and relating the whole adventure to her sister.

The second of the two books, "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There," appeared in 1871 and is very similar in nature to the first, though having a slightly different plot. Here Alice steps through an ordinary looking-glass one day, only to find herself in a world where, if you wish to get anywhere, you must walk in the opposite direction! Walking toward your desired destination only gets you further and further away. Also, interestingly, the land which Alice has entered is essentially a giant chessboard, and she must move through the different squares to reach the other side if she wishes to become a queen (which she does).

The characters Carroll created in these two stories are some of the most strikingly unique and unforgettable in the world of literature. Alice herself, based largely on Alice Liddell, a real-life child of whom Carroll was very fond, is a wonderful heroine that you can't help admiring. Throughout all of her backwards and upside-down adventures, she remains ever sensible and analytical, always trying to reason her way out of the most unreasonable situations. Other characters a reader won't soon forget include the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, the Cheshire Cat, Bill the Lizard, the Caterpillar, the Duchess and her peppery cook, the aforementioned Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, the Gryphon, the Red and White Queens, the talking flowers, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Sheep, Humpty Dumpty, and the Red and White Knights. Carroll also created many fascinating new creatures in his stories, including bread-and-butterflies, rocking-horseflies, "slithy toves," "mome raths" and more.

What I find most intriguing, as an adult reader of these books, is Carroll's brilliant use of wordplay and symbolism throughout the stories. Nearly everything has some sort of double meaning. There are hidden messags and subtle witticisms on every page. Carroll also includes several parodies of what were well-known songs and rhymes in England at the time. Young children will love the books for their fantastic qualities and imaginative inspiration, but most readers will not pick up on the many puns and jokes until they are a little older, so these stories really do have something to offer to anyone, no matter what age.

This particular edition (2004 Barnes & Noble Classics printing, with introduction and notes by Tan Lin) also contains several extra "goodies" in addition to the text of the two books. There is a brief biography of Lewis Carroll, a timeline of his life and career, a fascinating and insightful introduction (well worth the read!), information on various film adaptations, a short story by Carroll - "What the Tortoise said to Achilles," commentary on the text by various individuals and publications, and a set of questions designed to aid the reader's thought and analysis of the text. The book also contains all of the original illustrations, which are indispenable to a full enjoyment of the story. Highly recommended to any reader.
 
  "If You Believe in Me, I'll Believe in You!"

When Charles Ludwig Dodgson first began to tell the story of Alice's adventures underground to the three Liddell sisters, he had no idea whatsoever the impact that his work would one day have in the cultural history of humanity. Is there a person alive in Western civilization that *doesn't* know of Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat? I seriously doubt it. Writing under the pen name of Lewis Carroll, Dodgson's quirky fairytale soon became a publishing sensation in Victorian England, quite an unusual feat for a dour mathematician who had no interest whatsoever in boys, women or most other human beings, and instead lavishing his attention on little girls - particularly one Alice Liddell, to whom he presented the original manuscript to. The story of Lewis Carroll is just as fascinating as his fictional Alice, so I would suggest following up the "Alice" books with a good Carroll biography.

In a story that is so random (basically made up of one little girl wandering about in a dream) there is plenty of room for all sorts of crazy theories as to exactly what everything means. Does "Alice" have a deep subtext, filled with hidden meaning and messages? Is it Freudian? Elaborate satire? Does it reflect the deep internal frustrations, anxieties and wish-fulfillment of a slightly-disturbed mathematician obsessed with little girls? Or is it simply a series of weird and wonderful events dreamed up for the enjoyment of children? The fact that nobody is really sure *what* to make of this story is probably the reason why it's still published, read and discussed today.

The other reason is its historical value. "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" was the first book designed for children that was entirely void of any sort of moral, and instead written solely for pure entertainment purposes. Before "Alice", children were stuck with stories that preached goodliness and virtue, something that Carroll himself pokes fun at during the course of the story, when he refers to "several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had told them." His stories came like an unexpected breath of fresh air amongst Victorian society, and it was little wonder that adults as well as children helped to make "Alice" a bestseller during its day.

Another crucial feature to the tale is Alice herself, often considered the first realistic representation of a child in literature. She's curious, but sometimes a little shy. She's polite, but manners often give way to frustration and temper tantrums. She's intelligent, but not as intelligent as she would like to think she is (relying heavily on an education that often fails her). She often holds her own against the contradictory natures of the people she meets, but more often than not is baffled and belittled by them. She possesses some degree of common sense, but often does some remarkably stupid things. She's likeable, but she's also a bit of a show-off and a snob. In other words, she's the first (and perhaps the best) example of a three-dimensional child character in literature geared toward either children *or* adults.

"Alice in Wonderland" begins with the infamous sight of a white rabbit with a waistcoat and pocket-watch muttering to himself: "I'm late! I'm late!" Abandoning her sister and the dull book that she's reading, Alice follows the rabbit down a rabbit hole and unexpectedly finds herself drifting deep down underground. What follows is a series of weird and wonderful meetings with the likes of the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat and the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle, as poor Alice - the only sane person in the madhouse - struggles to make herself heard against this twisted parody of the adult world.

Nearly every page contains a clever pun, nonsensical poem or mathematical puzzle, and there's plenty here to keep you fascinated, whether it be Alice's abrupt shrinking and growing (brought on by eating Wonderland food, and perhaps reflecting Carroll's desire to control the growth of his young protagonist), the beautiful garden that Alice cannot seem to reach (and when she does, she finds it not quite to her liking, perhaps suggesting a reverse-Eden, in which children desiring adulthood soon realize that it's not quite what they expected it to be) or Alice's internal crisis in which she debates whether the surreal circumstances she's found herself in have resulted in her loosing her own identity (I won't even try to open the jar on *that* one!) No wonder scholars can go mad trying to untangle this tale! Even the fact that the story succumbs to the ultimate cliché in fantasy-fiction, the ending that will reward you with an F if you use it in a creative-writing exercise at school (I am of course, referring to the fact that Alice wakes up at the conclusion of the story to find that it was just a dream), doesn't damage the power of Carroll's imaginative force.

"Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There" is a little more structured in terms of its storyline, perhaps because Carroll was not simply making most of it up on the spot, as he had done with its predecessor. This time, when Alice falls asleep, she crawls through the mirror on the top of the mantelpiece and into the room on the other side. There she finds a land organized into the shape of a giant chessboard, in which Alice herself is a little pawn that must journey to the end of the board if she wishes to become a Queen. On the way she meets several chess pieces, including the Red and White Queen, and the White Knight (widely believed to represent Carroll himself), as well as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, a garden of living flowers, and the Lion and the Unicorn, the latter of whom famously tells Alice: "If you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you." My favourite chapter would have to be the one that involves the ludicrously pompous Humpty Dumpty (who is really the one who coined the term "un-birthday", not the Mad Hatter and the March Hare as the Disney version would have you believe), though equally memorable is the intriguing episode when Alice happens upon the sleeping Red King, and is told that he's dreaming of her. Is Alice in the Red King's dream, or is the Red King in Alice's dream? What should happen if one of them should wake up before the other? It's a disturbing metaphysical conundrum, and hints at the depths with which a scholar (or deep-thinking child) could delve into these stories.

Of course, not every child will enjoy the "Alice" stories. What was once vividly imaginative and innovative for a stifled Victorian audience has long since become commonplace in children's fiction, and the randomness with which the adventures take place can often unsettle young listeners (as they certainly did me, as I always felt that Alice was caught inside a nightmare). However, others will delight in the madness that abounds throughout the story, and others still will learn to appreciate the work as they get older. There are hundreds of editions out there, most probably quite as good as the next, but I would encourage buyers to track down an edition with John Tenniel's famous illustrations - you simply cannot read the "Alice" books when they are not accompanied by Tenniel's portrayal of his demure little Alice, with her hooded eyes and large forehead. It would be like reading C. S. Lewis without Pauline Baynes, or Roald Dahl without Quentin Blake. Unthinkable!
 
  Classic Storytelling

I have grown up watching Disney's Alice in Wonderland, and knowing what liberties Disney is known to take in their movies, I wanted to read the original story for myself.

And I'm glad I did. Lewis Carol was such a wonderful storyteller, full of imagination and creative use of the English language.

This was two stories in one. The first, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, I thought had more imagination and he action seemed to flow faster with more scenes and challenges for Alice to deal with. The characters are fantastic and highly imaginative.

The second story, Through the Looking Glass, also had a lot of imagination, but it didn't seem to have as fast a pace as the first book. Still, I found it fascinating as the story was done as if Alice were a chess piece moving across a chess board to reach the other side as a pawn to become a queen. As she moved up the chess board, she encountered different characters and situations.

Highly recommended, even if it was written as a child's book.

 
  A CLASSIC

I first read Alice's Adventures when I was about nine or ten years old, and you know what? I didn't really like it. It didn't make any sense, I told my mother. It's not serious enough for me.

But years later, at age twenty, I acted on a whim and read it a second time. And I was captivated. No other book matches Alice in humor, oddness, or bizarre characters. All the imitators (and there have been many) have failed because they couldn't manage to hold together their story's oddness with such a strong, flowing narrative or protaganist as lovable as Alice. Lewis Carroll's plot drifts effortlessly from one bizarre situation to another with sublime grace. His genius was that he went into the bizarre without going too far; his creativity never turned cheap.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an adult's children book. I doubt that children will, or even can, enjoy it to the extent that adults will. When I read it at age nine I wanted it to have some kind of meaning, some raison d'etre--how ironic that now I'm an adult and its dreamlike feel is just the kind of break from reality I could use. Of course children can love these stories too, and I don't want to give anyone the idea that Alice and Looking Glass are stories only for adults. Your kids probably don't read anything other than the Harry Potter books, over and over, so why not give them something else?

Some other things about Alice in Wonderland make it such a classic. It was unique in its time (and still so) for its complete lack of moralizing. It doesn't tell you how good boys and girls should act, or turn into a good-vs-evil tale. Its protaganist, Alice, has to be one of the greatest characters, female or otherwise, in all literature. Her cleverness and logic are Wonderful.

So buy the book. The edition to get is one with the original illustrations.