Lewis Carrol’s Birthday

According to a writing prompt I found online, today is Mr. Carrol’s birthday. The writing prompt suggested that I write about my favorite character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I thought that this was a marvelous idea, especially because during my semester at school, I had to read it for a project which I won’t, alas, be doing.

I bought myself a beautiful copy of both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. It has all the original illustrations in it, as well as a beautiful, colorful cover. I felt immense joy at carrying the book around and just thumbing through its pages. A book’s physical presence can be so helpful to the experience of reading it. This is why I don’t want a Kindle or a Nook or any of the other electronic readers. I’m straying off topic, so let’s get back to little Alice.

I think my favorite character in Adventures, apart from Alice herself, is little Bill, the lizard. Poor old Bill is always the one who gets picked on throughout the book – first he’s forced to approach Alice in her gigantic form and receives a kick for his troubles; next, mischievous Alice steals his pencil and he keeps writing with his fingers without making any marks on the page, to his great perplexity.

In Through the Looking Glass, I’d like to say that my favorite characters are the kittens – but that’s just because I cannot for the life of me resist kittens. In truth, though, I suppose my favorite character is that of the clumsy knight. The knight is said to be Lewis Carrol himself, in all his chivalrous silliness, and the way he’s described is so very touching. It’s as if Lewis Carrol wants so badly to be a white knight for little Alice, but knows that he is much too bumbling and awkward to be of any help.

[Note: I know there’s lots of controversy about Lewis Carrol and Alice, but as far as this post is concerned, I’m treating it as the innocence it’s portrayed to be by Lewis Carrol himself.]

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4 thoughts on “Lewis Carrol’s Birthday

  1. unabridgedgirl says:

    I have never really cared for Lewis Carrol – – never got into the story, etc. I must admit,though, I am excited to see the movie coming out in March – – but I think this may have something more to do with Johnny Depp than the actual story. Hahahah..ha..ha..heh…

  2. We could talk about the Alice books forever but I’d like to address your remarks about the physical pleasure of having a book in your hands, with which I so utterly agree (no need to regret being tangential about a subject as good as this). There aren’t many greater pleasures than sliding a pristine new volume off a bookshop shelf, turning it over in your hands, wondering if you’re the first person to look at this particular copy, trying to remember if it’s on your must-buy list, guessing how much of the blurb on the back you dare read before they start giving the plot away and then (oh lord) putting it on top of the way too many books you’ve already selected before STAGGERING to the check-out. (Libraries are nice too but not the same, as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, second-hand bookshops are just lovely, providing endless scope for musing on the lives that the books have led before they fell into your hands).

    Then there’s the delight of looking at the spines along your own shelves, remembering that you’ve read that one and that, oh, you MUST read that one soon. I love having books for ages and finally coming to them; the book I just read (The Invisible Man by HG Wells) has the date 1998 in my hand under my signature on the flyleaf. I always sign and date my copies. If it’s a classic novel with an academic introduction or afterword, I always save those parts till I’ve read the work itself – don’t want to chance upon any spoilers or have some crusty old professor telling me what I should think before I think it. And – is this sacrilege? – I delight in bending back the spine as I go so that the book knows that I’ve been there and done it justice. There’s something awfully melancholy (!) about a book the first half of whose spine is wrinkled, the second half smooth. Will I ever try to read that book again, I wonder slightly pityingly? No, Kindle and eBook will never furnish pleasures like these …

  3. Ah, Steve, when I next see you, we must have a long and indulgent talk about the physical pleasure holding a book.

    I bend the spine as I go, as well!!! I love being able to actually see my progress on the outside of a new book as I read through it… When I start a new book, nothing gives me greater pleasure than that first crack as I bend open the front cover.

  4. I just discovered that a fellow member of our spine-cracking party was none other than Mr Oscar Wilde himself. Perhaps some dedicated squirrel would like to work up some research into which other great writers (aside from you, me and Oscar) liked to bend their books.

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