Author : Donald Rackin
Publisher : Macmillan Reference USA
Release : 1991
Language : En, Es, Fr & De
Book Description :
Two of the world's most popular children's books, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1864) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871) by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), are also the favorites of adults, who find profound observations in their delightful "nonsense." Carroll's education as a minister and a mathematician influenced his creation of stories that play upon common notions of wisdom, logic and reality. His humorous prose and verse fashion a world in which the familiar and expected are suddenly turned upside down. In her dream journeys Alice encounters fanciful creatures and situations--the Queen of Hearts, the Mad Hatter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, a tea party where it is always six o'clock--that challenge her assumptions about how the world is ordered, or whether it is ordered at all. Alice is in turn delighted and discouraged by the reversal of familiar rules in the places she visits; she is intrigued to meet such wondrous characters as live chessmen and yet confused about her own place in a world inhabited by usually inanimate objects. Generations of readers have been as entertained and puzzled as Alice herself when trying to understand Wonderland and the world behind the looking-glass. Donald Rackin's study of Carroll's masterpieces examines how, in addition to being classic works of entertainment and imagination, the Alice books address issues that concerned mid-Victorians on the brink of the modern era. Alice, a character representative of the assumptions, fears, and desires of her time, encounters a fast-paced, confusing, and disorderly world where rules do not apply, where inanimate objects come alive, and where everyone seems to be rushing but going nowhere. In many ways, the worlds Alice encounters are exaggerated versions of the evolving modern society that many Victorians feared. In chapters that explore the historical context, critical reception and interpretation of the Alice books, Rackin demonstrates how Carroll used fantasy and "nonsense" to mirror the frightening reality of a world transformed by mechanization, changing class relations, capitalism, and religious doubt. Rackin's study illuminates the texts by revealing how they are essentially concerned with the modern search for meaning in a rapidly changing and seemingly "mad" world, providing perspective on how these "nonsense" books explore fears and desires that are common to many generations. Rackin's study, the first book-length analysis of these works is over 50 years, will be welcomed by students and scholars of Victorian literature and culture.