The Alice Behind Wonderland

The Alice Behind Wonderland

Book - 2011
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In the summer of 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church in Oxford, Charles Dodgson - better known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll - dressed the six-year-old Alice Liddell in ragamuffin's clothes, draped the folds of cloth low enough to expose her bare chest, asked her to look deep into his eyes- and then snapped the camera's shutter. In The Alice Behind Wonderland, Simon Winchester uses the famous photograph of Alice - notorious for the child's alluring pose - as the launching pad for an energetic and penetrating look at the inspiration behind, and the making of, one of the greatest classics of children's literature: Alice'sAdventures in Wonderland. Indeed, Winchester shows that it was Dodgson's photographic love affair with Alice that transformed this shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved writers. Equally important, this photograph offers a window into Dodgson's troubled Victorian's mindand soul; it is a picture imbued with more meaning than its appearance would suggest. Much like the fictional Alice's world, as the photograph is subject to closer examination, it becomes nothing short of curiouser and curiouser. Alice Liddell as The Beggar Maid was, in short, the muse that wouldinspire the creation of Alice in Wonderland. Deftly engaging with Dogson's published writings, private diaries, and photography, Winchester weaves together the poignant, turbulent, and entirely fascinating story behind Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2011
ISBN: 9780195396195
0195396197
Characteristics: 110 p. : ill. ; 22 cm

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Janice21383
Nov 24, 2017

An interesting, intense little book, but one that many will find disappointing. It's almost as much about early photography as Dodgson's attraction to the Liddell girls, and there are only passing remarks about his books and poetry. I appreciated, though, the summary of Dodgson's early life and academic career, written by someone who seems to know what he is talking about. As it happens, I think Winchester's solution to the mystery is the true one -- essentially, that there is little mystery, and what there is is probably lost to the mists of time. You can find longer books that delve into it in greater detail, but unless more letters and diaries are found, be aware their authors are speculating and trying to make a buck.

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Charlie68
Jun 22, 2016

A good read; but a familiarity with the Alice books and Lewis' poetry will aid in the enjoyment in this book.

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