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Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture Paperback – 30 Sep 2005


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"'...Brooker grounds his critical work in shrewd common sense, writes clearly and explores an impressive range of Carroll and Alice-related phenomena-biographies, newspaper articles, novels, films, computer games, new editions of the books, tourist sites and fan groups.' The Washington Post 'Highly recommended' Choice 'Will become a classic of its genre' Lewis Carroll Review"

About the Author

Will Brooker is Director of Film Studies and Television at Kingston University, UK. He is the author of several books, including studies of Batman, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and Lewis Carroll. '

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Contemporary Manifestations of a Timeless Classic 30 April 2004
By R. Hardy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Curiouser and curiouser." "Beware the Jabberwock, my son!" "When _I_ use a word it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" Even if you don't know the Alice books by Lewis Carroll, chances are you have heard these quotations. The books are so well known that they have, according to one report, been quoted more than any other source except the Bible and Shakespeare. The timelessness of the appeal of _Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_ and _Through the Looking Glass_ can easily be appreciated in the book _Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture_ (Continuum) by Will Brooker. It is an examination of the manifestations of Alice in the past fifteen or so years, with some attention paid for historic context to the rest of the twentieth century. That there is still lively participation by Alice in many surprising aspects of our modern world is a cheerful reminder of how good the original books are, and Brooker's own witty book gives hope that Alice will always have a role to play in the culture of any age.
But Carroll (actually The Reverend Charles L. Dodgson) himself has in the past decade played a darker role than he ever did before. In an age when we worried about pedophiles, and also worried needlessly about people accused in atrocious error of being pedophiles, Carroll's fascination for little girls has become suspect and smutty. Academic papers have been issued to reinforce such views, but all are largely circumstantial. Thus it seems wiser to think of Carroll with more magnanimity, and to remember that he was never in his time considered anything more threatening than a respectable Oxford don with an eagerness to entertain by mathematical and linguistic puzzles and stories. The popular press has followed the academic lead, however. The darker themes of Wonderland have been brought out in recent illustrations for the books, but even here, "... none of these illustrators taps to any noticeable degree into the reading of _Alice_ as steeped in sexual overtone..." Brooker shows how the original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel have always influenced subsequent illustrators. Brooker has great fun taking part in the activities of the Lewis Carroll Society, and finds a pleasant peer pressure: when he wrote to other members he found himself gradually using an address that was much more formal and polite "...than I would ever have used towards, say, the _Star Wars_ fans of my previous research."

_Alice's Adventures_ gives a look back to how other generations interpreted the tales. The stories don't have pedophilia in them, but these suppositions color our current view of the author. In the 1930s, there were abundant psychoanalytic interpretations, and in the 1960s there were psychedelic interpretations. Brooker also spends a chapter on an animated computer shooter game, "Dark Wonderland," with Alice as a sexually provocative heroine. The books themselves, however, represent to Brooker "...an innocent, timeless, very English work of charming fantasy, suitable for reissue to another generation of young readers." In showing Alice in current culture, Brooker has written an admiring tribute to Carroll and his creation that will have the laudable effect of getting readers to look again at an inspired original.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Wasp Without a Wig 2 July 2006
By Kevin Killian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Will Brooker is the handsomest former nerd in central London, and he takes his own edge off by cligning to the little bit inside him that still feels rejected, neglected, and put on the shelf by the cooler kids. His analysis of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass feels like something actually felt, not just abstracted, and it's clear that he keeps taking down from the hook all these various interpretations of Lewis Carroll's character, unable to settle on one, to see which one fits him the best. He is relentlessly modish and thoroughly up-to-date, and yet an old-fashioned drive for completion gives his character an uncharacteristic burnish, an OCD shadow. His book is terrifically written, on a sentence by sentence basis, but after awhile it does get wearisome, usually because like a handful of other practitioners of deconstructionist theory, Brooker is unable to give another full credit without sniping away at him or her. Every text that he picks up to examine will be revealed to have some huge flaw which Brooker doesn't share in.

He's divided his study into nine general areas, from representations of Lewis Carroll in recent biography, to the fandom with which his own recent work has been concerned. At least one of these topics, the section in which he critiques many illustrators of Lewis Carroll, should have been jettisoned for, despite what he thinks, Brooker lacks the ability to write well about the visual arts, odd for one who has written extensively on many comic artists, but alas, he's pretty bankrupt there. Another chapter devotes itself to contemporary sequels to ALICE, including Jeff Noon and Gilbert Adair, and here again a weakness in Brooker's comprehensive approach becomes obvious at once: although he has just about nothing to say about Adair's ALICE THROUGH THE NEEDLE'S EYE, he feels obliged to "cover" it with the same word count as he does everything else.

Against these minor flaws Brooker's book is an arsenal of critical insight and, as well, sheer writing chops. His opening salvo, tearing apart a series of biographers for their outright misstatements and lack of perspective, could hardly be better planned nor achieved. I would never have thought of the simple method he winds up using, which is, he isolates five areas of mystery in Carrollian biography, and one by one he examines what X, Y, or Z says about each. For example, what of the cut diary pages? What about the heartfelt diary entries which entreat his God to make him a more decent man? And what about those nude photographs of little boys and girls?

OK, maybe he tries to do too much, and depends on his own adorableness for pages at a time, but this is a thoroughly exciting book and I hope Brooker sees fit to keep it up to date in the years to come, maybe staging an Alice Biennale or something like.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Nice, but dry 24 Nov. 2009
By Brian R. Tkatch - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is what is says, a review of Alice and the way people understand it. If that interests you, this is a good book. For a Carolinian who just wants to see about the effects, but not get too far into the detail, this book is too dry.

Too much time spent on American Mcgee's Alice, and the nuances are borderline psychobabble. This might be better for a research document on the subject as the points are valid, just not that interesting.

I'm almost done reading the book. I'm trudging through more to "finish it" for the sake of finishing it, rather than out of interest.

I'd recommend this book for skimming.

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1/23/10 Finally finished the book. The last two chapters are more interesting. In the penultimate, he analyzes responses from society members. It's odd, but it rings true. The final chapter is interesting, in that it has a different feeling than the rest of the book. Whereas in the rest of the book he studies from the outside--even when joining the society it is for the book--the final chapter is his tour of Alice sites. Will Booker is no longer the researcher, but the interested patron. It's as if before he left the scene, he decided to get into it once himself, just to have done it.

But the sites he visited were lackluster, and the interest was just not there. His tone is sort of bittersweet, and i almost wished i was there to share it with him. In a strange way, he was going on his pilgrimage for our sake, and found nothing worth our time. His final analysis of what he would tell Carrol (not what he said he would actually say, but his study of it when he thought about it) seemed so true.

This doesn't change my impression of the book overall. But i do think the final chapter is ironic. It is doubtful it will mean anything to anything who hasn't read the rest of the book, but i read the entire book and i finally got to the last chapter, and what i found was as unrewarding as the very pilgrimage he himself recorded there.

I don't mean to knock the author. If i saw him, i'd thank him for the book and (hopefully) have a good talk with him. But for the book itself, it's interesting but dry.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
The analysis juxtaposes perfectly with his life and times 7 Feb. 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Lewis Carroll wrote "Alice In Wonderland" and is most noted for this achievement, but he did so much more, fostering the setting for later computer games, theme parks, and performances inspired by his works. Alice's Adventures: Lewis Carroll In Popular Culture isn't just another coverage of Carroll's life; it's a survey of how the characters he created live on in modern times, adapted since his death in 1898. The analysis juxtaposes perfectly with his life and times and creates for more depth in the analysis of Alice's ongoing effects on modern culture, than the modern biography could achieve.
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
what is it saying? 21 May 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
not sure what this book is supposed to be. It is really just a rehash of very old ideas about Carroll with some pop culture uncomfortably tacked on. The 'myth' has been dealt with far better by people who really seem to understand it (it's too deep I think for Brooker's milieu), and the pop culture is presented without any kind of analysis or penetration.
I think you are better off with Leach's 'In the Shadow of the Dreamchild' or Sigler's 'Alternative Alices'.
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