Posted by: lbrooksd | November 30, 2010

The Annotated Alice

I’m in love with the annotations – officially.  I’ve read Alice in the Wonderland and parts of Through the Looking Glass before, but these little insights into how to story fits into the context of the era, or the inside jokes that no one other than the people involved would know about, are making it seem like a whole new book.  I’m especially intrigued by the juxtaposition of Carroll/Dodgson’s skewed versions of popular songs and poems with the real ones.  There is so much in these notes to think about and color my interpretation of the text that I just didn’t know before, it’s making what I thought would be repetitive reading into something a lot more engaging than I had anticipated.

This week’s reading also holds a particular fascination for me because I spent the summer in Oxford, so all the references to the city and the University itself are all the more fun to read about.  The Dodo, for instance, that is in the pool of Alice’s tears along with the rest of the menagerie, gets a note of its own which talks about the Dodo remains in the Oxford University Museum that Carroll and the Liddell girls used to visit often.  These days there’s not much left, but I’ve seen what’s there, and it’s just too much fun finding those references that I can tie to physical places I’ve been.  I was there for Alice Day, sometime in mid July, and there were tea parties and people dressed as characters all over town, so I’ve been getting a big kick out of imagining the Alice enthusiasts I saw sending Martin Gardner all those funny little facts he credits to specific people.

Just for kicks, this is the view from the roof of Trinity College in Oxford.  Christ Church, where Alice Liddell’s father was Dean, is a short walk from here, off to the right – Trinity and Christ Church are sister colleges.  Christ Church is the biggest, or at least one of the biggest colleges at Oxford, and it’s one of the hardest to get into.

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