Alice's adventures in Wonderland

by Lewis Carroll

Other authorsSir John Tenniel (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1992

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Books of Wonder, [1992]

Description

A little girl falls down a rabbit hole and discovers a world of nonsensical and amusing characters.

Media reviews

It's just a delicious, borderline hallucinatory, confection of a book. Invention and imagination tumble over each other in the excitement, and there is something in there to delight every reader. There are countless plays on words (the mouse giving a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror to restore those who have been soaked by Alice's gigantic tears is the one that, for some reason, pleased me most), verbal pyrotechnics and semantic shenanigans to please the "ordinary" reader. And although they entirely passed me by at the time, I know now from various more scientifically-minded friends that their childish interests snagged on the mathematician author's various numerical and logic puzzles.

User reviews

LibraryThing member dr_zirk
My review in this case applies to a very specific edition, that being the Bloomsbury edition with illustrations by Mervyn Peake. The illustrations are certainly significant to the overall experience of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, since Carroll even refers specifically to one of the illustrations in his text.

The Mervyn Peake drawings are something quite different than the much more familiar work of Sir John Tenniel. The work of the latter was included in the original edition of Alice, and is still found in most modern printings. So Peake faces a huge uphill battle right there, trying to compete with something that is practically integral to the text for many readers.

In the main, I'd have to say that Peake fails to meet that challenge. What I find least satisfying in Peake's admittedly elegant line drawing is his rather light-hearted approach to the subject matter. The more familiar pictures by Tenniel bring a dark, and even mildly sinister, mood to the proceedings. This evocation of a specific mood offers a strong and original interpretation of the text as well as a unifying thematic sense that logically binds all of Tenniel's illustrations into an immensely satisfying whole.

Peake's strategy is to stick a little closer to the tone of Carroll's words, which actually seems like a bad idea, since the cuteness and inner lightness of the narrative fails to find any interpretive resonance in Peake's drawings - he's illustrating just what we're reading, with little flair or imagination. Tenniel made what seems to me to be a much smarter move, by extending a piece of the narrative thread in a direction that may be darker than Carroll really had in mind (I can't know for sure). This gives the Tenniel illustrations a life of their own that significantly enhances the experience that the reader derives from the words themselves, and provides for a fuller and richer experience of the overall text. Reading an edition of Alice illustrated by Mervyn Peake simply makes one realize how truly amazing Tenniel's more familiar work is, and how entirely appropriate and indispensable his vision of Wonderland is.
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LibraryThing member HunyBadger
I had never really liked the storyline before reading but having never formally read it I felt it was unwise to judge. I hoped this could be a turning point, where reading would make me enjoy it finally. Sadly, while reading, I couldn't wait to be finished! I only somewhat liked the last two chapters. Nothing made any sense and even the puns, which might have been interesting, were so annoyingly redundant that I only grew exasperated with the whole thing. Like a child that keeps asking why, this story goes around in circles, never finding a solid base to stand on.

I find there are specific kinds of silliness, silly-stupid and silly-zany, for instance. I think silly-zany was the goal but I only find it silly-stupid. Now that I've read the book, I am sad to admit that I still don't know what others find amusing about it.
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LibraryThing member
I didn't much enjoy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland while I read it (except for the court scene with the King's ridiculous directives; TV shows like Boston Legal are straight out of here!). I especially disliked that Carroll painted himself into corners numerous times and only got out by pulling a new topic out of thin air. And the ending’s device is a frustrating cop-out.

Yet, afterward, the story is growing on me. I’m glad to have finally experienced the origins of so many cultural references: the rabbit hole; “Drink Me”/”Eat Me”; the Mad Hatter; the Queen and Knave of Hearts; the rhymes. I suppose, being as logical a thinker as Alice, that I reacted to Wonderland exactly as she did: thinking it was curious, confusing, and frustratingly nonsensical. So, actually, Carroll did an excellent job of putting me there!

The book absolutely lends itself to being read aloud -- and with much drama. I think an adult reader would get very much more by delving into an annotated edition.
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LibraryThing member the_terrible_trivium
Swift-moving, extremely funny, and pretty much unique (aside from the second one). Gleefully absurd, always inches away from flying off the handle, which it would do if the handle didn't fly off first.
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
This novel and its' counterpart, Through the Looking Glass, form a unique portrayal of fantasy that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Adults may also appreciate the wonderful wordplay and levels of humor that make these books classics. As a result, Lewis Carroll has been one of my favorites for more than fifty years.… (more)
LibraryThing member slarsoncollins
OK, so maybe I haven't taken enough drugs in my life, but this book was a bit much for me. I enjoyed some of the story, and the wordplay was amusing in parts, but I have a hard time figuring out who this book is meant for. I don't think it's a very good children's story as they won't understand most of what's happening, especially as it pertains to the Mad Hatter and March Hare. I don't think it's a very good story for adults either, as it is fairly simple and doesn't have much of a plot or any character development to speak of. It's fun, but that's about it. This is one of the few books that I've ever felt made a better movie. And whether it's the Disney version, or the one with Johnny Depp, I think both were superior to the book. JMHO.… (more)
LibraryThing member varwenea
I really need to go buy the t-shirt that says “The book was better”. (see thinkgeek.com)

When I was exposed to Disney cartoon movies (later in age than most), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland always confused me. I couldn’t understand all the wonderment and fantasy; my brain wasn’t wired to appreciate it. Oddly, now that I’ve read the book for the FIRST time in my (much) later years, I suddenly understand AAiW. AAiW is just about a kid being a kid. Not trying to survive evil somebody, not being hunted, not on a forced adventure. She dreamt/wandered into this adventure out of boredom, and we go on this silly journey with her. There’s a touch of brattiness, and that’s exactly the way it should be. Is it meant to be processed and understood in the traditional sense? I doubt it. Are there hidden lessons? (or morals, morals, morals – hint, read the book) Well, Alice learned to plan ahead (keep the mushroom pieces with her), to walk away from situations that don’t treat her properly (Mad Hatter’s Tea Party), and to recognize her strength (multiple times, most notably when she became the biggest and was no longer afraid of the Queen).

Written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a distinguished scholar and mathematician under the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll, we are treated to simple word play fun of lessons that lessen and tortoise vs. taught us. Of course, need to pay homage to the “different branches of Arithmetic – Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision”. Now, what exactly does that mean? Damn, I’m being an adult again. Stop it! :)

A quick comment about the book version:
I have the inexpensive Dover Thrift Edition which has the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel that accompanied the book during its first publication in 1865. Highly recommend any edition with these illustrations.

One Quote:
In words or in the movies, this is amusing:
“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it would twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing; and, when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in act of crawling away…”
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LibraryThing member ecataldi
Ugh, I hate nonsense books. I get that this is for kids and the whole premise is fun nonsense. When Alice falls asleep she goes down into a rabbit hole and enters Wonderland, a place where everything is fun and nonsense. There is no point to anything and everyone is weird and can you tell how much I dislike this book. There is no plot, just a dumb kid named Alice, wandering around Wonderland talking to animals and packs of cards, playing croquet with flamingos and the like. Totally bonkers.… (more)
LibraryThing member booktsunami
Why do you want another copy of Alice in Wonderland when you already have at least three copies and other abbreviated versions? Well, it was really for the illustrations. I really like Helen Oxenbury's work and here was a great collection of her work for $5 at the local markets....who could resist. OK, I haven't read the story again. Actually, I never liked the story as a kid. Adults always seemed to be foisting it on me and I thought it was all very weird and unbelievable and full of tricky insider jokes for adults. I shared a flat (apartment) once, however, with a guy who was very keen on Alice in Wonderland and was always citing stuff from it ....like..."Words mean precisely what I want them to mean ...neither more nor less"and...."Would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here?"....That depends a good deal on where you want to get to", said the Cat. I don't much care where ..." said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go", said the Cat. it It was only as an adult that I kind of got interested in the author who was a lecturer in Mathematics and logic at Christ's College Oxford. He was Charles Dodgson who went under the pen name of Lewis Carroll. So the book is full of logical questions, paradoxes, illogical answers and mathematical quirks....... But Charles Dodgson seemed to have a rather unhealthy interest in young girls. I recall seeing a book of his that I think contained photos of young girls. (He became interested in photography and about 60% of his photos were of young girls. Seemed just slightly creepy to me.....but give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he just liked writing stories to entertain. He published Alice in Wonderland in 1865 and it became increasingly popular.
Anyway, that's not why I bought the book. I bought it for the illustrations and they really dazzle. Helen Oxenbury has a wonderful way with perspective and a slightly cartoonish drawing style that is perfectly suited to this particular book. There are some of her pencil sketches and a few watercolours combined with pencil backgrounds. All in all it works very well. I think she has captured the spirit of Alice rather well. In many of the versions I've seen , Alice comes across as a rather bossy and determined little girl but her she is confident but sympathetic. And a rather likeable character from the drawings. Needless to say, she is a modernised Alice and, I think has much more appeal than the older "tougher" Alices.
A great version of the book.
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LibraryThing member FrankErrington
Really a children's book, but I love the imaginative story telling and the whimsical dialogue. None of the films have ever done it justice. If you only know this tale through movies, do yourself a favor and read the book. Better yet, read it to a child ;-)
LibraryThing member gbill
You have to love a children’s book that features a large blue caterpillar smoking a hookah. This is a classic of fancy and imagination, featuring iconic characters in the White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat, and Queen of Hearts among others. It stands up to the test of time and is an enjoyable read even for an adult; there is a lot of cuteness here. I love the different branches of arithmetic per the Mock Turtle: “Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."… (more)
LibraryThing member Matie
This may be my new favourite edition of this book! The illustrations and the layout are simply wonderful. I am just so impressed with this book!

I love the “Alice” books by Lewis Carroll. I love the clever word play throughout as well as the wonderful imagery. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has some of the best nonsense poems in it as well as some fascinating philosophical questions. The Cheshire Cat’s statement about everyone being mad is an interesting statement. Is everyone really mad or is it just perception? Alice provides an interesting view into this world where everything is topsy-turvy. I just find the set up and the craziness very interesting.

The illustrations and layout of this book are so perfect for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that it’s incredible. One of my favourite things was that each chapter started in very large print and slowly shrunk so that by the end of the chapter’s first page the text is down to the size it is on every other page. This is a great design choice because of the constant size shifts throughout the entire book. Alice never really knows from one minute to the next what size she is going to be and the size change in the text really reflects those changes.

The illustrations themselves are very interesting. The photographer, Mr. Morell, cut out and sometimes enlarged the classic illustrations for this book by Tenniel. Then he set them up in small scenes using books, props, plants and various other things and photographed the result. The pictures he created are so wonderful! They use books in particular in a wonderful way. The rabbit hole is a hole through a book, the tea table (where the interesting and funny word play conversations take place) is a dictionary, and Alice’s giant hand reaches out of a book for the white rabbit when she has grown to fill his house. The images are simply incredible! I just love the cleverness of the choices. The lighting and placement is always perfect, like in the Cheshire Cat image where the shadow creates a second tree trunk making the image even more confusing and magical than it was originally!

This book is wonderfully put together. I love the images and the book is really one of my favourite stories. I wish I could find Through the Looking Glass done by this illustrator! I highly recommend this book. If you are looking for a really good edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this is the one to get!
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LibraryThing member sadiekaycarver
Written as if the writer is on an acid trip, this book is wonderful and frightening at the same time. Rereading it as an adult has made me realize why I was so scared as a child. Alice, The White Rabbit, The Red Queen, The Mad Hatter....all these characters come to life in great detail and description. I would recomend this to anyone who has seen the many movies made. It's strange, wonderful and fun all in one.… (more)
LibraryThing member Caonima
This story tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world.She met lots of strange crature,and taught them lots of interesting things.But shi also learned some things from these people.Maybe you feel that it just belongs to fairy tale,and for children only.However,as a part of young people,i think this story is excellent.I gained much imagination from it,i found the way of making our lives become more meaningful.As a result,you won't miss it if you are the person who love the life.… (more)
LibraryThing member ctpress
“We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.” The Chesire cat to Alice

What delightful wonderous nonsense. To spend 2 hours and 44 minutes listening to Scarlett Johansson’s joyful narration of "Alice in Wonderland" was like a breeze of fresh air for my overworked brain.

“Well! I’ve often seen a cat without a grin… but a grin without a cat! It’s the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!”

Is it subversive nonsense? Filled with hidden meanings? Cleverly organised and meticulously metered out nonsense? Maybe…I don’t know - overblown psychoanalytical interpretations kill the wonder of it all - and it’s original intention: The enchanted nonsense of a child’s imagination. As the forever tea party - where Alice ponders:

“The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.”

And it’s certainly a “curious dream” I will revisit again and again. Scarlett, we have a date next year for another 2 hours and 44 minutes.
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LibraryThing member adpaton
The most over-rated book of all time in my opinion - in the face of stiff opposition from Pilgrim's Progress and Catcher in the Rye, to name but a few. I was both bored and disturbed by the claustophobic and nightmarish nonsensity of this messy fever dream of ghastly characters.
The mad hatter, that terrible queen, all those odd substances saying eat me and drink me, then swimming through the sea of dormouse tears - most off-putting. Mind you, that might have been 'Through the Looking Glass', possibly the only book I hated even more than Wonderland.… (more)
LibraryThing member CaroTheLibrarian
It's a classic. I feel that I should like it, but I just don't.
LibraryThing member Amberlynn.Avery
This is my boyfriend's favorite book, but quickly became one of mine, as well. I think that it was well written, funny, and there's a lot to take from it. In the end, I could go on and on about how much Alice seemed like a little brat, or how the mad tea party is my favorite scene, but that would make this review much bulkier than I would like. However, I would have to say that the story is able to be read over and over, which I have done.… (more)
LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
This was a lot of fun! Gleefully absurd, thick with wordplay and puns (some of which I had to go back and re-read in an English accent to "get"), and a quick, joyful little read. I highly recommend this to anyone, whether or not you've seen any of the film adaptations - I've seen most, and I was still missing out until I read this.… (more)
LibraryThing member BooGirl
Being a big fan of the Disney version of Alice in Wonderland I had high expectations when I picked up this book but I was surprisingly disappointed. I found Alice to be quite the little annoyance. Much more 'childish' than I expected. I also found myself bored of the novel half way through.

I understand this is a children's story but the writing was not as I had expected from a novel that is considered a classic. The concept of the story is brilliant beyond words and has the greatest potential to be amazing and yet the writing was flat and at times awkward to read.

This is the first novel-turned-movie, that I actually prefer the movie over the actual novel.
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LibraryThing member emvuu
This has to be the most intricate read and imaginatively inspiring books that I have ever come across.

There is so much action occurring during Alice's time through the rabbit whole that explaining it would never be as satisfying as reading it. Each character occupies only small sections of the book but they are so memorable, so fascinating and different that one can not forget who they are, their story, and where they've come from.

Alice herself is very smart for her age (9 I do believe?) and questions every question that a character throws at her. She does not fuss over small matters but instead opts through out the book to accept the differences.

Carroll's characters make a lot of good points, their words have different meanings to it making the reader rethink about what they've just read. I nodded my head many times. Carroll is one for play on words and thinking outside the box about words, letters, and much much more.

Through The Looking Glass may have been even more elaborate with Alice's encounter with the White Queen and her journey through an imaginary chess board to reach the status of Queen.

There is so much more significant moments in the book that I want to comment on but it may just become an entire essay.

This is a classic, the classic I've heard so much about and so glad I spent the time to read!
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LibraryThing member Matie
I really like this book a lot. Every tome I read it I find more fun details and images in it. The illustrations in this edition, however, did very little to bring out those clever details that Carroll so specifically included. The world of Wonderland is very proper within this book. The chairs at the Mad Hatter’s table all match (which the text says they do not) and other such mistakes. In fact, there are a great number of detail mistakes in this book, some of them not so trivial. The one that irritated me the most was that the gardeners who were painting the roses red were hearts when they are supposed to be spades (I happen to really like that detail, so it bugs me). The mistakes are distracting and any kid will pick them out immediately, which isn’t a good thing!

This edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is illustrated by Foreman in watercolours. Supposedly the artist was trying to mimic Carroll’s photography, but other than Alice’s hair and dress there is very little evidence of that. Getting beyond nit picky details (which I admit, I tend to get hung up on sometimes), the illustrations still seem to lack the originality and magic necessary for the story. The author specifically draws the real world in sepia tones while Wonderland is in colour, but rather than adding anything to this story the technique just feels copied and overdone since it is a very common motif.

Mr. Foreman states in the back of the book that every illustrator must undertake Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at some point in their career. This makes me wonder if he really loved the book and thus wanted to illustrate it or if he felt like he should because it was expected. I don’t know. That might explain the lack of magic, though.

I don’t really recommend this book. I would do in a pinch, but there are many editions that are much better with far more wonderful illustrations (even Tenniel’s original drawings are better). Thus, I don’t recommend this book. If you need an edition of Alice, find a better one!
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LibraryThing member overthemoon
I remember going into a Middlesbrough bookshop with a 5 shilling token to buy this, my prize for obtaining the highest mark in the Lower Junior Division of the 1857 United Scripture Examination. It has a bendy green leatherette cover with letters embossed in gold and at the time seemed to be the height of luxury.
LibraryThing member octobercountry
I want to particularly recommend the Sea Star Books edition, which is an oversized hardcover with all the Arthur Rackham illustrations from 1907. Absolutely gorgeous, and at a very reasonable price.
LibraryThing member freddiefreddie
I should have read this at an earlier age. As it was, I enjoyed this most just after waking, or sometime before my first cup of coffee. You know how it is. After a cup of coffee, you start to want things to make sense.

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one book in a boxed set of two books

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7308
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