By Nina J P Evans

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alice in Wonderland

This is Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) visualized through book jackets and notable illustrations. Based on the novels Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872). These are two of the most famous most quoted books in the world. The beginnings of ‘Under Ground’ to ‘Wonderland’ originated as a gift to Alice Liddell. Following the advice of friends Carroll developed the story into the much loved whimsical adventure that it is. In the Oxford edition in the back pages you can see how the title comes about. I love how everything’s thrown into confusion, nonsense and clever mayhem. “The most neglected and important fact about ‘Wonderland’ is that it is not a ‘land of wonders,’ but rather ‘a land where one wonders.”

I selected pieces that looked interesting in the way that the illustrations were far from being skin deep and superficial. In these illustrations I felt there was a slight edge to them of darkness combined with comedic satire; in the illustration by Camilla Rosa Garcia there's a delicate balance between the soft purples and greens with the black tipped inked lips and lashes. In comparison is the penguin classic, where a little girl standing in such a way when confronted by the queen with her playing card assembly. The queen’s head is seen rather enlarged compared to the rest of her, her crimson colouring strongly hinting at her foul tempered character. There is a black inked finer detailing and strangely mystifying less detailed darker background. Both covers satires the different characters very successfully — not an easy commission for an illustrator to venture, in a list of the most esteemed Tenniel, Rackham and Steadman.

Though considered primarily as a children's storybook… adult readers enjoy it too I think that the illustrations aesthetically re-imagined interpretations are always welcomed. There's openness to new commission’s keeping the book at the forefront of literature. The reader is transported back into childhood fantasy again. Seeking the essence to Carroll’s nonsensical world itself helps us in understanding our own world and the bits of it that just don’t make sense.

I have additionally included further links to the pieces, The British Library have an online page-by-page edition of the whole of Alice’s Adventures Underground, well worth checking.

illustration by Camilla Rosa Garcia
Alice in Wonderland illustrations - Ralph Steadman 1986 here
illustrations by Arthur Rackham - colour plate from 1907 link here

First published edition in 1865. The Dalziel brothers were commissioned to engrave the boxwood blocks on which Tenniel had made his drawings. John Tenniel illustrated both Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking glass. V&A collections

Lewis Carroll’s original handwritten story written for Alice Liddell 1864 titled Alice's Adventures Underground now found in the British Library.

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