Posted by : Deborah Takahashi Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Plot Summary:
Alice Liddell was bored with the ordinary. In fact, Alice longs for the extraordinary and would give anything to live in a world where nonsense is the law of the land. One day, while on an outing with her sister, Alice sees a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a pocket watch. Surely, no one has ever seen a white rabbit wearing a waistcoat and carrying a watch so Alice follows him down a rabbit hole that would lead her to Wonderland. Before entering Wonderland, Alice is tested when she comes upon a small table with a key and a variety of doors. After finding the proper door, Alice realized she was much too big to enter and and that is when  a small bottle of liquid appears with the following bale: "Drink Me." Although she is now the perfect size, she forgot the key! When she realized her mistake, she didn't know what to do and that is when a piece of cake with the words "Eat Me." Well, the cake made her shoot up a few miles and she was stuck again. Rather than trying to find a solution, Alice does something that every child does when she doesn't know what to do: she cries and cries. After flooding the hallway with tears, Alice takes the bottle and shrinks herself only to be "flooded" into Wonderland. While in Wonderland, Alice meets a variety of characters who have their own stories to tell and they are definitely ones she has never heard. Although Alice originally relished the opportunity to be a part of this world, she realizes that nonsense is literally what it is: nonsense. From the Dodo, Bill, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Door Mouse, and the Caterpillar, the Red Queen, and many others, Alice finds herself surrounded in a world where everything up is down and no matter what she does, or says, it always ends up the opposite. Throughout her journey, Alice starts to realize that living in the ordinary world isn't all that bad and, after the shenanigans and adventures she experiences, being at home with her kitty, Dinah, is just what she needs. However, old habits die hard, and when Wonderland beckons her return, Alice curiosity, once again, gets the best of her.

Critical Evaluation:
This is one of my favorite books of all time. In fact, I have a cat named Dinah and when I grow up, and have a daughter, her name will be Alice. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is a fun and fantastic adventure where a little girl learns to appreciates the difference between reality and fantasy. Although Wonderland had shown her many, many amazing things, she learns that silliness can lead to madness that could lead to some scary things. For example, when she ate the cake in Rabbit's house, she was almost burned alive because the Rabbit, Dodo, and Bill thought she was a monster. Another incident is when she almost lost her head because of the dizzy Red Queen. Let's not forget her tea party with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. Logic and the illogical lead to many different paths and Alice had the unique opportunity to experience both. In this collection of Alice's adventures, world renowned scholar, Martin Gardner, has given Carroll fans a wonderful gift, which is Alice's stories with John Tenniel's original artwork, and ANNOTATIONS UP THE WAZOO! I majored in English so this version, although not necessary for some readers, is a joy because along with the story, we get bits and pieces of facts and history on top of all of literacy criticism. For those who are no familiar with the author's life, they will learn that this man was a highly respected theologian and mathematician. When I learned about who Lewis Carroll was, or, should I say, Reverend Charles Dodgson, I was floored. Why on earth would a man of fact and logic write a story about the illogical? Well, lucky for us, Carroll was a living contradiction, just like Alice Liddell. More importantly, we learn that this beautiful story was based off the stories of his good friend's daughters, which, in my opinion, is the greatest gift any little girl could ever ask for. Since this edition contains the original Annotated Alice that Gardner published thirty years ago, this edition includes additional information so fans all over the world will be super excited to get their hands on this! If you love Alice, and want to know everything about her inception and influence, I highly recommend that you go out and buy this for your collection. A great addition to any home library.  

Information about the Author:
According to the Lewis Carroll Society of North America:
Who exactly was Lewis Carroll?
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, was a man of diverse interests — in mathematics, logic, photography, art, theater, religion, science, and of course literature. He was happiest in the company of children for whom he created puzzles, clever games, and charming letters. And of course, he also told them stories.
As all Carroll admirers know, his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), became an immediate success and has since been translated into more than eighty languages. The equally popular sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, was published in 1872.

The “Alice” books are but two examples of his wide ranging authorship. The Hunting of the Snark (1876), a classic nonsense epic, and Euclid and His Modern Rivals (1879), a rare example of humorous work concerning mathematics, still entice and intrigue today’s students. Sylvie and Bruno (1889), published toward the end of his life, contains startling ideas including a description of weightlessness.
The humor, sparkling wit and genius of this Victorian Englishman have lasted for more than a century. His books are among the most quoted works in the English language, and his influence (as well as that of his illustrator, Sir John Tenniel) can be seen everywhere, from the world of advertising to that of atomic physics.

Why did Mr. Dodgson write under the pen name of Lewis Carroll?
As a modest gentleman and a scholar/instructor at Oxford, he valued his privacy very highly. He would refuse letters sent to “Lewis Carroll, Christ Church, Oxford”, claiming no such person lived there! But he did occasionally use his pen name to smooth an introduction to a well-known member of society or new child friend.

How did he come up with the name Lewis Carroll?
He took the first two parts of his name, Charles Lutwidge, and translated them into Latin: Carolus Ludovicus. He then reversed their order: Ludovicus Carolus, and then loosely translated them back into English: Lewis Carroll. He actually supplied his first publisher with a short list of possible pen names, and it was the publisher who selected “Lewis Carroll” from the list. Share that bit of trivia at your next mad tea party!

Was there a real Alice?
Indeed there was. Alice Pleasance Liddell was arguably Charles Dodgson’s greatest child friend. She was one of the daughters of Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where Mr. Dodgson lived, taught and wrote.

Was Lewis Carroll in love with Alice?
To say that much has been written on this question would be a monumental understatement. For the purposes of this site, suffice it to say that in addition to being a friend during her childhood years, she was his first true creative muse. Interestingly, Alice Liddell also inspired a number of other well known artists of the time, including John Ruskin, William Richmond and Julia Margaret Cameron. The fact that the two “Alice” books are still so beloved today stands as a testament to the lasting power of that original inspiration, and to Mr. Dodgson’s timeless genius.
What was the origin of the Alice books?
Mr. Dodgson would often take young Alice and her sisters Lorina (older) and Edith (younger) on leisurely rowing expeditions in the company of a fellow Oxford scholar. During these boat rides and subsequent picnics, he would make up fantastical tales to entertain the girls. What we now know as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland began as one of these stories, and was only written down because Alice begged Mr. Dodgson to do it. The first version, which he wrote and illustrated by hand for her, was entitled Alice’s Adventures under Ground. Some of the most famous chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were actually written only after his friend (and noted children’s author) George MacDonald and his family encouraged Mr. Dodgson to explore the idea of expanding and publishing the story so that more children could enjoy it. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland met with instant success, as did its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.

Can Lewis Carroll’s creativity and writings be explained by any possible drug use, epilepsy, migraines, or other mind-altering circumstance?
In brief: no, no, no, and no. Based on all evidence unearthed to date, unless you count the occasional use of an over-the counter homeopathic remedy, Lewis Carroll was not a drug user. This may disappoint lazy media hounds and Miley Cyrus, but that’s the truth as we currently know it, and given Carroll’s abstemious personality and conduct, that particular finding is unlikely to change. Similarly, while he had a couple of seizures of one kind or another in later years, and wondered if one of them might be “epileptiform” in his diary, he also recorded afterward that his own doctor told him that it was not, and there was no history of it in his immediate family line. And while he records that he occasionally had a very bad headache, including some descriptions that sound like migraine symptoms, we have no hard facts that could lead one to say uncontestably that he suffered from migraines. Seizures and severe headaches can be caused by any number of things, and providing a medical diagnosis more than 100 years after the fact is not advisable. It’s fascinating what people since Carroll’s time have tried to read into his life after reading his remarkably inventive works. Our explanation for how the Alice books, the Snark, and all Carroll’s other writings came to be is simple: the man was extremely talented.
Classic Literature

Reading Level/Interest:
All ages

Books Similar to the Annotated Alice:
Awards & Recognition:
From Review
"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations!" Readers who share Alice's taste in books will be more than satisfied with The Annotated Alice, a volume that includes not only pictures and conversations, but a thorough gloss on the text as well. There may be some, like G.K. Chesterton, who abhor the notion of putting Lewis Carroll's masterpiece under a microscope and analyzing it within an inch of its whimsical life. But as Martin Gardner points out in his introduction, so much of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is composed of private jokes and details of Victorian manners and mores that modern audiences are not likely to catch. Yes, Alice can be enjoyed on its own merits, but The Annotated Alice appeals to the nosy parker in all of us. Thus we learn, for example, that the source of the mouse's tale may have been Alfred Lord Tennyson who "once told Carroll that he had dreamed a lengthy poem about fairies, which began with very long lines, then the lines got shorter and shorter until the poem ended with fifty or sixty lines of two syllables each." And that, contrary to popular belief, the Mad Hatter character was not a parody of then Prime Minister Gladstone, but rather was based on an Oxford furniture dealer named Theophilus Carter.
Gardner's annotations run the gamut from the factual and historical to the speculative and are, in their own way, quite as fascinating as the text they refer to. Occasionally, he even comments on himself, as when he quotes a fellow annotator of Alice, James Kincaid: "The historical context does not call for a gloss but the passage provides an opportunity to point out the ambivalence that may attend the central figure and her desire to grow up." And then follows with a charming riposte: "I thank Mr. Kincaid for supporting my own rambling." There's a lot of information in the margins (indeed, the page is pretty evenly divided between Carroll's text and Gardner's), but the ramblings turn out to be well worth the time. So hand over your old copy of Lewis Carroll's classic to the kids--this Alice in Wonderland is intended entirely for adults. --Alix Wilber
From Library Journal
Clarkson Potter published The Annotated Alice in 1960, and Gardner published the sequel More Annotated Alice in 1990. Here, Gardner combines and expands both to produce The Definitive Edition. This presents the full texts of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and "The Wasp in a Wig," a "suppressed" chapter of Looking-Glass. Each of these texts is accompanied by a lengthy marginal commentary that identifies historical and literary references and allusions, explains Carroll's logical and mathematical puzzles, and interprets colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. Gardner's commentary is sufficiently detailed to be informative without burdening Alice with excessive pedantic baggage. The Definitive Edition also includes Tenniel's original illustrations and an exhaustive annotated list by David Shaefer of Alice on the screen. This is a happy contribution to those who appreciate Lewis Carroll.
-Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. 
From Kirkus Reviews
A welcome, greatly expanded third edition of Gardners beloved critical edition of Carrolls Victorian fairy tales. One of the longest ongoing love affairs in literature has to be that between Gardner, a prolific, popular writer on math and science, and Carrolls ostensible childrens tales, Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. With a dedication rare even among scholars, Gardner has tracked down origins and meanings of the wordplay and mathematical puzzles the sly Carroll embedded in his texts. He has also researched Charles Dodgson's life and illuminated the two stories sly parody of high Victorian culture. This new volume combines the notes from The Annotated Alice (1960) and More Annotated Alice (1990) with Gardners latest discoveries, offering both ardent fans of Carroll's work and newcomers a chance to read the texts in the light of Gardner's labors. The result is rather like sitting in on the creation of a work of art; the manner in which the shy mathematician and tutor Dodgson poured everything that fascinated him (children's games, chess, mathematical riddles and logic, an amused view of Victorian literature and society) into the work by his alter ego Carroll is illuminated through Gardner's lucid and copious notes. They run in a narrow (and surprisingly unobtrusive) column accompanying Carroll's text on each page, turning the book into a fluid mix of Carroll and Gardner. The illustrations, by John Tenniel, also provide fertile ground for Gardner's commentary. The notes are so clear, enthusiastic, and helpful that it is now hard to imagine Carroll without Gardner. A unique collaboration has produced, for once, a book that lives up to its name. As close to a definitive take on a classic work as anyone is likely to come. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Deborah Takahashi
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My name is Deb and I am a Librarian who absolutely loves to read and recommend books to teen and tween readers. In this blog, you will find reviews on a variety resources ranging from books, movies, video games, and much more. Please feel free to leave any feedback, especially book recommendations!
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