Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, first published in 1865 and 1872 respectively, are two delightful tales that follow the adventures of seven-year-old Alice as she wanders through Wonderland and the Looking Glass kingdom. She meets an array of fascinating characters, such as a white rabbit in a waistcoat, kings and queens, talking flowers, and animated playing cards. She swims through an ocean of tears, plays her way across a giant chessboard, and partakes in the most unusual game of croquet.
These tales are punctuated throughout with poems and songs, which recount short, nonsensical stories of their own. The poem of the Jabberwocky comprises of a large proportion of words invented by Lewis Carroll himself, which plays testament to this man’s incredible imagination.
In this Penguin English Library edition, the text is accompanied by forty-two illustrations by John Tenniel. These beautiful depictions of Carroll’s humourous and ofttimes disturbing world really help to bring the whole story to life.
I was able to read the majority of each story in one sitting each (unfortunately, life prevented me from being able to read the entirety of each book in one sitting), and I really feel that a book such as this benefits from being read in one go. Being quite short, my edition is 243 pages, and relatively easy to read, this is definitely accomplishable. At the very least it is possible to read the large majority of each story in one go, as I was able to do. Doing so really enables you to journey through Wonderland with Alice and to become completely emersed in her dreams and imagination.
Both stories run in a dreamlike fashion, flitting from place to place without logic or explanation. It seems clear that Alice’s adventures take place in her dreams and in her imaginations (though Carroll never explicitly states this, making it all the more fantastical) and Carroll perfectly encapsulates the random and confusing manner in which dreams so often progress.
I thoroughly enjoyed this children’s classic and if you haven’t read it yet, I implore you to give it a go. It was outlandish and fun; a joy to read.