The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition

by Carroll, Lewis/ Gardner, Martin/ Tenniel, John (Ilt)/ Tenniel, John

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Product ID: 219686


"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


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