'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' is the world's first surrealist book, written in 1865, at a time when the word surrealism had not yet been invented. The author of this dream-like fantasy, full of puns and ironic comments on adult life, was Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson), who devised the story for three young girls during a boat trip on the river Isis in Oxford. Since its publication, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' has been a firm favourite with children of all ages, and adults too can find deeper layers of meaning beneath the madcap adventures of Alice and her outlandish army of comic characters. The story has been translated into 125 different languages and, after the Bible, Koran and Shakespeare, is the most frequently quoted book in the world.
Source of legend and lyric, reference and conjecture, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
is for most children pure pleasure in prose. While adults try to decipher Lewis Carroll's putative use of complex mathematical codes in the text, or debate his alleged use of opium, young readers simply dive with Alice through the rabbit hole, pursuing "The dream-child moving through a land / Of wonders wild and new." There they encounter the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle, and the Mad Hatter, among a multitude of other characters--extinct, fantastical, and commonplace creatures. Alice journeys through this Wonderland, trying to fathom the meaning of her strange experiences. But they turn out to be "curiouser and curiouser," seemingly without moral or sense.
For more than 130 years, children have reveled in the delightfully non-moralistic, non-educational virtues of this classic. In fact, at every turn, Alice's new companions scoff at her traditional education. The Mock Turtle, for example, remarks that he took the "regular course" in school: Reeling, Writhing, and branches of Arithmetic-Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision. Carroll believed John Tenniel's illustrations were as important as his text. Naturally, Carroll's instincts were good; the masterful drawings are inextricably tied to the well-loved story. (All ages) --Emilie Coulter