Monday, February 20, 2012

It sounds uncommon nonsense.




"'Well, I never heard it before,' said the Mock Turtle; 'but it sounds uncommon nonsense.'"
                                                                                            -Alice in Wonderland
I see I let out a veritable bevvy of pigeons in my last post, mentioning that I am not in love with Alice in Wonderland. I was rather pleased, in my strange little way, to have made a row, for there's nothing like good, friendly, energetic discussion on a topic. So here are my thoughts on Lewis Carroll's Alice for your perusal and criticism:

I will admit that Carroll was a brilliant author, if a little strange. Despite the fact that I often detect the flavor of...poppies...ahem...amongst his words, I find the various incidents and conversations quite clever...

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
Alice: …so long as I get somewhere.
The Cat: Oh, you're sure to do that, if only you walk long enough

--Or--

March Hare: Have some wine.
(Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea.)
Alice: I don't see any wine.
March Hare: There isn't any.
Alice: Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it.
March Hare: It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited

Really, one can't help but admitting that Lewis Carroll had some fine ink in his pen. It spun out nonsensical magic, truly. Therefore, my beef is not with the quality of his writing. "Then come off it, Rachel!" you might begin to say. Well, let me begin at the beginning, as all stories ought.
My first acquaintance with Alice began as a little girl  with the Disney movie. I felt trapped the duration of the two hours. Later on, at about ten or twelve years of age I was given the book and I read that...I felt trapped again. This sensation of being trapped is not exactly conducive to love and adoration. Lewis certainly achieved his goal with me. Alice in Wonderland is about a girl's...nightmare, for lack of a better term. I felt that I was living the nightmare with her the entire time. And I am sorry, but I do not cotton to purposely depressing myself. :D
Nonsense--when it has a point--delights me.But I found that Alice in Wonderland had no real point until the very end when she wakes up and finds out that...that...what? I never did gather what the decisive answer to that question was. Perhaps her experiences were meant to teach her about life? About growing up? About the fact that you ought never to let your kitten run off because you'll be harried into a world of ridiculously ambiguous characters? I could not get over my confusion enough to attempt to understand.
 
I do realize that there are many many bits of wisdom thrown into the nonsense. I agree with this quote from an Alice Quotes website:
When you read Alice in Wonderland, you will find yourself trying to make sense of an illogical story. Alice, the key character, also experiences similar frustrations. But in the end, she emerges wiser with the learning involved in each situation. Everyone faces absurd choices in life. If you shrug off these choices as anomalies to your perfect life, you gain nothing. But if you try to learn from these absurdities, you will gain a lot of wisdom.
That is the whole of my problem in a nutshell--I find myself trying to make sense of an illogical story and getting woefully frustrated. You do not understand how desperately I wanted to shake Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, or how miffed that wretched caterpillar made me feel. I have never liked people who won't answer plain questions directly.

So those are my thoughts. The general consensus? Lewis Carroll was a brilliant man--barring his personal life which was decidedly disturbing and utterly confused and undone--but I find he "is not the boy for me" to quote Rick Carstone of Bleak House. Your thoughts? Comments?

6 comments:

shieldmaidenthoughts said...

I am a huge Carroll fan, but your remark about detecting the flavor of poppies was so brilliant. XD Yes, ahem, I'm afraid I do, too.
=)
~ Mirriam

Marian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marian said...

I don't think there is any recorded evidence that Carroll was ever on drugs. And apart from an author, he was also quite a distinguished mathematician. Some of his more obscure books (Symbolic Logic, A Tangled Tale) are all about logic. With Alice in Wonderland, he was just trying to write an entertaining story for children. Considering the Brothers Grimm, AiW is pretty light reading for Victorian era children's books. :)

Ashley said...

Ditto on the brothers Grimm!

I, you might have picked up from my last comment, 1) enjoy a good, light hearted, debate, and 2) am a rather big AIW fan. I watched the Tim Burton movie first, and fell in total love. Then, I watched the children's movie, and was disgusted. The biggest reason was because how horrid the Hatter behaved, how stupid he was, and since I am a total lover of the Depp Hatter, I almost felt like my favorite character had been violated. Now I am reading the book, and finding the older Disney version was closer to the mark.


But I don't care.
Johnny Depp is still the best Hatter around.

Rachel Heffington said...

Haha! The Disney Hatter was maddening, certainly. :)
@Marian, I am not certain how much evidence-or-not there was for his being on drugs, but I do have it on authority that he rather fond of young girls' company and of taking indecent pictures of them, so he's off my list as far as personal-life goes. However, that doesn't diminish his literary genius and I must take my hat off to anyone who excels at mathematics, as they lose me hopelessly! :D

shieldmaidenthoughts said...

I have to agree with Ashley - Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland is my favorite!!