Lewis Carroll’s Alice

Alice in WonderlandThe second week’s reading assignment for my online class on Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World was Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865: University of Adelaide, with Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations; Project Gutenberg, with Arthur Rackham’s illustrations) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872: University of Adelaide, with Sir John Tenniel’s illustrations; Project Gutenberg, no illustrations).

I first read these books as a kid, in a well annotated edition featuring, I believe, the translation by Henri Parisot.  At any rate, I still remember the first verse of Jabberwocky:

Il était grilheure; les slictueux toves
Gyraient sur l’alloinde et vriblaient
Tout flivoreux vaguaint les borogoves
Les verchons fourgus bourniflaient.

This is the first work that made me realise how complex an enterprise translating from one language to another can be.  Until then, I assumed that words were objective entities, there was a correct label for everything, and translating merely meant grabbing the proper label from another shelf — German, English or Chinese.  Alice gave me a glimpse into the complexities of language.  I was particularly surprised and delighted by Humpty Dumpty’s relationship with words.  My love of language is still untarnished decades later!

Anyhow, here is my 300-word essay, with the numbered references listed below.  I also added hyperlinks to relevant illustrations, for your enjoyment. Continue reading “Lewis Carroll’s Alice”