Posted by: Kyle M. | December 3, 2009

Alice in Review

It would seem as if this wonderful (pun alert) expedition through the twisted confines of Carroll’s mind is finally coming to a close.

I’ve finished the book, perused the annotations with a fastidiously meticulous mentality, and have analyzed it with my team backwards and forwards. Before the wistful nostalgia starts to kick in (“Ever read blog post ten? Boy, that was a keeper,” I’ll tell my children), I’d better offer the closest I can muster to an objective overview of this mammoth undertaking my team and I have accomplished. In this entry, I’ll look back on the book itself, and in the next I’ll reveal my opinion on the project in its entirety.

If you read the capstone to my “When You Mix a Cup of Carroll with a Dash of Disney” series, you’d already know that I preferred Disney’s version of the story to Carroll’s, as it felt like a more well-rounded, healthily restrained piece of work. In case I came across as overly critical: I still genuinely relish Lewis’s original. It’s the second best book I’ve read this year (and I’m not solely relegating that category to that which I’ve read for school), topped only by the phenomenal Lord of the Flies (that novel’s only real flaw is that William Golding wouldn’t know what subtle symbolism is if it slapped him in the face and called him Piggy).

It’s important to note that Carroll’s book came first, and the rough edges are forgivable when considering what a triumph of the imagination it was upon initial release (And to this day). The March Hare, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen, the Duchess…too many memorable and delightfully unstable characters to count. It’s also worth bringing up that Lewis was a logician first, fiction writer second; Disney, on the other hand, was well-versed in the art of spinning a concise, elegant, and worthwhile yarn. That he was still able to devise something so fantastic despite the fact that he wasn’t operating in his forte is perhaps more impressive than Disney’s ‘perfection’ of his material; just as it’s easy for a newspaper editor to fine tune articles and editorials, it probably wasn’t much of a challenge for Disney to simply refine Carroll’s already remarkable book (from a screenwriting standpoint, of course; I harbor no doubt that animating and producing the film was quite difficult indeed).

Will Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland go down as one of my most cherished books of all time? Absolutely not; Fahrenheit 451, Flowers for Algernon, and All Quiet on the Western Front have that position sufficiently occupied. But it truly is unlike anything else out there, despite its various nonsense-themed imitators; it’s a book that, if you let it, will transport you somewhere completely foreign and eerily familiar, incredibly illogical yet bizarrely relatable. It’s a bumpy journey at times, sporting a bit too much gobbledy gook and a rather one-dimensional heroine; but beauty is never without its flaws.

Carroll’s the George Lucas of his generation, crafting an entire universe for the masses to find fascination in…yet he managed to do it with a measly pen and paper. Therefore, Carroll’s work is not only a testament to literature, but to the awesome force that is the human mind.

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