Few books have influenced popular culture as thoroughly as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its brilliant sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The Cheshire cat, animate playing cards, talking flowers, a White Rabbit, the Mad Tea Party, a particularly dangerous chess game, etc. are all familiar images thanks to Lewis Carroll.
Or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, as he was born. Alice's adventures are often seen as primary examples of nonsense literature, but this is somewhat inaccurate. The humor is ridiculous, but it's not nonsense in the typical sense. A mathematician and logician who taught at Oxford, Carroll's books are prime examples of intelligent humor.
Okay, so maybe "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" is pure nonsense, but many of the bizarre jokes are actually logically-based, funny because they're oddly logical, or at least direct reversals of accepted logic. Some have even interpreted the books as a satire on the new mathematics becoming popular in the 19th century (which Carroll presumably rejected).
But whether it's highbrow art, or just a great book that's impossibly fun to read, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one of the few novels that deserves all the hype it gets. If you need expert opinions: early fans of the book included Queen Victoria and Oscar Wilde (whose own brand of humor was similarly absurd and brilliant).
This is a book you need to read. Or books, though Alice and Looking-Glass have come to be regarded as a single work. Your mind will be stretched, you'll laugh till your throat and stomach hurt (if you have even one gram of humor in you, that is), and you'll likely discover one of those rare gems that will keep you coming back again and again and again.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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