“Oh you can’t help that,” said the cat; “We’re all mad here.”
Alice in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, is one of the most famous and enduring children’s classics. The novel is full of whimsical charm, and a feeling for the absurd that is unsurpassed.
Carroll’s book is episodic and revels more in the situations that it contrives than in any serious attempt at plot or character analysis. Like a series of nonsense poems or stories, created more for their puzzling nature or illogical delightfulness, the events of Alice’s adventure are people with incredible but immensely likable characters and a master’s feel for the eccentricities of language. One feels that Carroll is never more at home than when he is playing, punning, or otherwise messing around with the English tongue. Although the book has been interpreted in numerous ways (from a allegory of semiotics theory to a drug-fueled bad trip), perhaps it is this playfulness that has ensured its success over the last century.
The book reaches its climax in the trial of the Knave of Hearts, who is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. A good deal of evidence is given against the unfortunate man (most of which is entirely nonsensical), and a letter is produced which only refers to events by pronouns (but which is supposedly damning evidence). Alice, who by now has grown to a great size, stands up for the Knave and the Queen, predictably, demands her execution. As she is fighting off the Queen’s card soldiers, Alice awakes, realizing she has been dreaming all along.
Brilliant for children, but with enough hilarity and joy for life in it to please adults too, Alice in Wonderland, is a love book with which to take a brief respite from our over-rational and sometimes dreary world.
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”