Despite having seen and loved numerous film adaptations, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of those classics I had just never gotten around to actually reading until recently and I am very glad that I did. None of the movies can really prepare you for the truly bizarre and surreal nature of this book. In fact, it’d be an almost impossible book to faithfully adapt into a movie for no business-savvy studio would allow it.
The whole novel could almost be described as basically a drug trip (seriously), and while many literary critics have simply relegated it to “literary nonsense,” I do think Carroll, as a talented logician and mathematician, was to some degree exploring some philosophical ideas, especially in the way he cleverly plays with language. Admittedly, it doesn’t go terribly deep into those ideas since this is essentially a children’s tale whose first and foremost goal is to delight and entertain.
And it does do that. If you can get past the early, dizzily psychedelic sequences in which Alice shrinks and grows, shrinks and grows ad nauseum, you eventually get into a kind of groove with Carroll’s absurdist sense of humor, stop trying to make sense of it and let yourself be taken along for the wacky ride.
Personally, I actually like the film versions better as they make more linear sense of Alice’s mythical journey and are therefore more palatable for a general audience while the book is so much like a disconnected dream. But what a hilarious dream it is. As a fan of absurdist humor, this is genuinely one of the funniest books I’ve read and I laughed out on numerous occasions.
Serious fans of fantasy, children’s and classic literature really should read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, if they haven’t already, for it is part of that wellspring from which all modern fantasy comes from. [subscribe2]