Friday, 8 April 2016

Revisiting Alice

I’m currently rereading Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. This is partly because I’ve obtained the 2011 Macmillan editions. These are large hardback texts with the original drawings by Sir John Tenniel. Eight of these were coloured by Victorian artist Harry Theaker, and published in 1911, with the remaining pictures coloured by Diz Wallis in 1995. These editions include a foreword by Philip Pullman. The books are beautifully tactile and very heavy. I have the impression that I am reading more slowly because the pages are so long. This actually makes me pay more attention to the text.
I am also rereading them because I’m currently writing a chapter in a book about these two books and Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. Alice tends to polarise people: some love her stories others hate them. Most adults are spooked by Coraline. Younger readers love her. My book is about the darker side of children’s literature. I find Alice and Coralline very sinister. A baby  that turns into a pig. Uncanny twins. Button eyes. And much more.    
This time, though, I really enjoyed Alice in Wonderland. This is partly because of the rewarding experience caused by the beauty of the edition. I also recognise how well it is written. Alice certainly here has a book full of conversation. The point of view is solid. Alice is a well-established character and there are also some charming caricature layers. We have a real sense of Wonderland. The story moves quickly. Okay, so that’s my critical head consuming the text now and not the child who read it originally. Even so. I’m glad I’ve revisited. I’m just about to start Through the Looking Glass.         

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