Alice in Wonderland

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll . It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures. The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson’s friends. The tale plays with logic in ways that have given the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the “literary nonsense” genre, and its narrative course and structure have been enormously influential, especially in the fantasy genre.

Alice was written in 1865, exactly three years after the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed in a boat up the River Thames with three young girls:

  • Lorina Charlotte Liddell (aged 13, born 1849) (“Prima” in the book’s prefatory verse)
  • Alice Pleasance Liddell (aged 10, born 1852) (“Secunda” in the prefatory verse)
  • Edith Mary Liddell (aged 8, born 1853) (“Tertia” in the prefatory verse).

The three girls were the daughters of Henry George Liddell, the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and Dean of Christ Church as well as headmaster of Westminster School. Most of the book’s adventures were based on and influenced by people, situations and buildings in Oxford and at Christ Church, e.g., the “Rabbit Hole” which symbolized the actual stairs in the back of the main hall in Christ Church. It is believed that a carving of a griffon and rabbit, as seen in Ripon Cathedral, where Carroll’s father was a canon, provided inspiration for the tale.

The journey had started at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village of Godstow. To while away time the Reverend Dodgson told the girls a story that, not so coincidentally, featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure.

The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. After a lengthy delay — over two years — he eventually did so and on 26 November 1864 gave Alice the handwritten manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, with illustrations by Dodgson himself. Some, including Martin Gardner, speculate there was an earlier version that was destroyed later by Dodgson himself when he printed a more elaborate copy by hand, but there is no known prima facie evidence to support this.

But before Alice received her copy, Dodgson was already preparing it for publication and expanding the 15,500-word original to 27,500 words, most notably adding the episodes about the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Tea-Party. In 1865, Dodgson’s tale was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by “Lewis Carroll” with illustrations by John Tenniel. The first print run of 2,000 was held back because Tenniel objected to the print quality. A new edition, released in December of the same year, but carrying an 1866 date, was quickly printed. As it turned out, the original edition was sold with Dodgson’s permission to the New York publishing house of Appleton. The binding for the Appleton Alice was virtually identical to the 1866 Macmillan Alice, except for the publisher’s name at the foot of the spine. The title page of the Appleton Alice was an insert cancelling the original Macmillan title page of 1865, and bearing the New York publisher’s imprint and the date 1866.

The entire print run sold out quickly. Alice was a publishing sensation, beloved by children and adults alike. Among its first avid readers were Queen Victoria and the young Oscar Wilde. The book has never been out of print. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been translated into 125 languages. There have now been over a hundred editions of the book, as well as countless adaptations in other media, especially theatre and film.

The book is commonly referred to by the abbreviated title Alice in Wonderland, an alternative title popularized by the numerous stage, film and television adaptations of the story produced over the years. Some printings of this title contain both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and, What Alice Found There.

Chapter 1-Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she sees a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a watch run past. She follows it down a rabbit hole to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit, but through which she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle labelled “DRINK ME”, the contents of which cause her to shrink too small to reach the key. A cake with “EAT ME” on it causes her to grow to such a tremendous size her head hits the ceiling.

Chapter 2-The Pool of Tears: Alice is unhappy and cries and her tears flood the hallway. Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him but all she can think of talking about is her cat, which offends the mouse.

Chapter 3-The Caucus Race and a Long Tale: The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away. Alice and the other animals convene on the bank and the question among them is how to get dry again. The mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Alice eventually frightens all the animals away, unwittingly, by talking about her cat.

Chapter 4-The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill: The White Rabbit appears again in search of the Duchess’s gloves and fan. He orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve them, but once she gets inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes which when Alice eats them reduce her once again in size.

Chapter 5-Advice from a Caterpillar: Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a Caterpillar smoking a hookah. The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. Before crawling away, the caterpillar tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.

Chapter 6-Pig and Pepper: A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, lets herself into the house. The Duchess’s Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup which has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but not the cook or her grinning Cheshire Cat) to sneeze violently. Alice is given the baby by the Duchess and to her surprise, the baby turns into a pig.

Chapter 7-A Mad Tea Party: The Cheshire Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare’s house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air prompting Alice to remark that she has often seen a cat without a grin but never a grin without a cat. Alice becomes a guest at a “mad” tea party along with the Hatter (now more commonly known as the Mad Hatter), the March Hare, and a sleeping Dormouse who remains asleep for most of the chapter. The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories. The Mad Hatter reveals that they have tea all day because time has punished him by eternally standing still at 6 pm (tea time). Alice becomes insulted and tired of being bombarded with riddles and she leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to.

Chapter 8-The Queen’s Croquet Ground: Alice leaves the tea party and enters the garden where she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen. The Queen, a figure difficult to please, introduces her trademark phrase “Off with his head!” which she utters at the slightest dissatisfaction with a subject.

Alice is invited (or some might say ordered) to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then orders the Cat to be beheaded, only to have her executioner complain that this is impossible since the head is all that can be seen of him. Because the cat belongs to the Duchess, the Queen is prompted to release the Duchess from prison to resolve the matter.

Chapter 9-The Mock Turtle’s Story: The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground at Alice’s request. She ruminates on finding morals in everything around her. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.

Chapter 10-Lobster Quadrille: The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) “‘Tis the Voice of the Lobster“. The Mock Turtle sings them “Beautiful Soup” during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.

Chapter 11-Who Stole the Tarts?: Alice attends a trial whereby the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court’s trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger. The dormouse scolds Alice and tells her she has no right to grow at such a rapid pace and take up all the air. Alice scoffs and calls the dormouse’s accusation ridiculous because everyone grows and she can’t help it. Meanwhile witnesses at the trial include the Mad Hatter, who displeases and frustrates the King through his indirect answers to the questioning, and the Duchess’s cook.

Chapter 12-Alice’s Evidence: Alice is then called up as a witness. She accidentally knocks over the jury box with the animals inside them and the King orders the animals be placed back into their seats before the trial continues. The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 (“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”), but Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar “Off with her head!” but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards. Alice’s sister wakes her up for tea, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice’s face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.

taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_in_wonderland