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Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Popular Classics) Paperback – 30 Jun 1994
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About the Author
Lewis Carroll, born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98), grew up in Cheshire in the village of Daresbury, the son of a parish priest. He was a brilliant mathematician, a skilled photographer and a meticulous letter and diary writer. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, inspired by Alice Liddell, the daughter of the Dean of Christ Church in Oxford, was published in 1865, followed by Through the Looking-Glass in 1871. He wrote numerous stories and poems for children including the nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark and fairy stories Sylvie and Bruno.
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This time, Alice finds herself on a giant chess board in a backwards universe. She encounters flowers that talk, Humpty Dumpty and his nonsense, a loud snorer, Tweedledum and Tweedledee arguing, an knight inventing nonsensical items and very strange species of insects.
It's in this world that Alice is on her quest to the end of the chess board to become a queen. The book is packed with Poems, such as the classic The Walrus and the Carpenter, and the Knight's poem that has several names. Alice hears of the White Queen's logic: 'Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday but never jam today' and the way that she travels backwards (she starts screaming and then later she pricks her finger with a pin).
Overall, an excellent piece of nonsense with humour and poetry aside. I'm sure even adults would enjoy dwelling on the concepts Alice Through the Looking Glass describes.
Published originally in 1871, six years after the first book, "Through the Looking-Glass" takes place six months later in terms of the time which has passed for Alice. As with the first book, there are themes which run throughout Alice's adventure. Mirror image is certainly a key theme, both in terms of things which appear the same as well as being the opposite. Alice travels through the looking-glass, much of these adventures take place on a chessboard, where the white and red pieces mirror each other. Tweedledum and Tweedledee are mirrors of each other. There are also mirrors between the second and first book, obviously with Alice herself, and then the use of games in each story, involving two colors and Kings and Queens.
The book opens with Alice talking to her cats and deciding to try to go through the looking-glass, which she does and then she finds the poem "Jabberwocky" which she has to read with the use of a mirror. From there Alice goes outside and as with the first story she is attracted by a garden in the distance, and as with the first book, there are obsticles on her way there. She then meets the Red Queen which results in her joining the game of chess as a White Pawn. The rest of the story is loosely based on her adventures in each of the squares as she eventually becomes a White Queen.
As with the first book, there are wonderful word play and logic games throughout the smaller adventures in this book. While there are certainly similarities between this book and the first one, including Alice's attitude at the end of each, Carroll makes it different enough that one doesn't feel as if they have read it before. The verses in this book are longer than the first book, and I would say that is to the advantage of this work. They are wonderful as well, starting with "Jabberwocky" and going on to "The Walrus and the Carpenter" and of course the other pieces recited by Humpty Dumpty and the White Knight, they are all wonderful. One can't go higher than five stars though, so there you are.
While I enjoy Alice in Wonderland, I get a much bigger kick out of this book. Frankly, the way that things work in the mirror world are very creative. Alice running toward something and winding up farther away, for example. And there's my favorite, the White Queen screaming in pain before she is pricked by a pin.
Frankly, I'd forgotten just how much of this book was stolen by Disney for their movie. This is where you'll find the idea of an unbirthday, for example.
I think this book also makes better use of the dream state. Some of what happens to Alice seems more like something that has happened in my dreams, so I could really identify.
Overall, there is a coherent plot this time instead of just Alice moving from one strange thing to another. True, there's still that, but there is a purpose behind her wandering.
Overall, this is a fun but very strange romp through a dream state. It's wacky enough to entertain kids of all ages.
The interweaving of the Nursery Rhyme Characters and the frequent fish poetry references does provide more continuity and a sense of sequential events than Alice's first adventure. I also appreciated the linking of the cat at the beginning and end of the story.
It does still feel like Carroll did way too many opium pipes in his time.
(First written as Journal Reading Notes in 1999.)
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