Saturday, January 30, 2010

In Search of Alice

While we can’t go ask Alice the mysteries of her life, here are a couple of things that might be of interest. Alice in Wonderland, (the new Tim Burton movie) is a sequel to the famous Alice books by Lewis Carroll. In it Alice is now 17 and wishes to escape from her stuffy responsibilities in Victoria England. She slips away from a party and is lead by the White Rabbit to Wonderland, a curious world run by the wicked Queen of Hearts. There has been a lot of press and gimmicks regarding this movie, including a limited edition eyeshadow kit which pops up like a children’s novel. Given the pictures of Johnny Depp playing the Mad Hatter this may be an interesting collection. I am looking forward to seeing the film when it opens March 5th.

With the movie publicity, it is no surprise that the novel "Alice I Have Been" caught my eye. This novel by Melanie Benjamin is a fictional autobiography of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the character of Alice in the novels "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" by Lewis Carroll, nee Charles Dodgson .

The novel starts with this quote "But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful? It is. Only I do get tired"

80 year old Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves is preparing for a trip to America with her son. She is tired of the public attention and disappointing looks she receives when they see an old lady instead of the young girl that has captured their imaginations. The book then proceeds through her privileged Victorian childhood, her life as a young woman and finally as an old woman. It is at Christ Church, Oxford, where her father is dean, that she is introduced to Charles Dodgson. Much has been made about young Alice’s relationship with Dodgson, much of it controversial and speculative. What happened between Dodgson and Liddell over a century ago will always be a mystery but this book might help us under cover parts of it.

Several authors have also wrote fictional accounts of Alice Liddell. Here are some of them:

Riverworld series, by Philip Jose Farmer
Mimsy were the Borogoves, by Henry Kuttner (Lewis Padgett)
The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor
Alice in Sunderland, by Bryan Talbot
Still She Haunts Me, by Katie Roiphe (the title comes from part of the acrostic poem of dedication in the original book. It could be said that the fictional character haunted Liddell all her life).

I wonder what other fictional autobiographies there may be?

~posted by Rosemary T.

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