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Alberto's Greatest Hits,
This review is from: A Reader on Reading (Hardcover)
In the dying era of the book (see numerous books) the bookish are spoilt. I'm a sucker for essay collections (in England now the essay's believed dead; hah! - look west) and this one's sumptuous, scrumptious even; a veritable goody-bag -- and like a literary chocolate box there'll probably be one you leave till last (Don Quixote? ugh!) -- but it's mostly self-indulgence unless you're allergic to Alice who - cryptically, demurely and, it has to be said, pretty irrelevantly - serves as running epigraph, or frilly paper between the titbits.
The English intellectual doesn't know quite what to make of the rest of the world's infatuation with Alice. Is it that foreigners have never heard the word twee or simply that we absorbed Alice with our mother's milk and therefore never consciously had to 'read' her? Or (perish the thought) is her appeal partly class-based and therefore somehow tarnished in the world Blair left us? Pooh has been 'democratized' (read: ruined) by Disney and The Wind in the Willows by the feeble stage version (Toad is a SUBPLOT: it's like A Dance to the Music of Time being called Widmerpool - next, Widmerpool! The Musical?) And what about the mortal blow dealt The Railway Children by that sugary film (yes I know everyone younger than me loves it and had a pash on Jenny, but I remember the FIRST (live) TV adaptation of the early 50s - and how many of you have read the book anyway?) Middle-class icons all - but in the past available to all children with the hunger. And then there is Alice, who has the inestimable advantage of being an independent female; she is not easily pigeon-holed or cartoonified and if she can avoid being deconstructed she will survive - but how many children today are as familiar with her words as we were with those of the King James Bible, even in a godless household like mine?