Brillig, Schmillig


In preparation for an Alice-themed puzzle hunt this coming weekend, I finally read Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. And let me say this: What the f*ck?

It's not just that there's no story to speak of. It's not just that the characters are thin, or that Alice herself is a nattering idiot. What surprised me the most was the poor quality of Carroll's prose. His verse is terrific, but his prose is just awful. Rambling, loose, all over the map, it completely failed to draw me in. Even the wordplay was amateurish. And to top it all off, the brilliant Jabberwocky doesn't even show up until the sequel.

Ugh. I'm crushingly disappointed. Alice in Wonderland! Lewis Carroll! You were supposed to be this colossus; you were this great legendary thing. Only... not so much. Phooey.


I've never read it, but isn't it targeted for younger people? Maybe looking at it from an adult perspective isn't quite fair.

i read alice and through the looking glass for the first time this past week. i found parts hard to slog through, but other parts i found inspired. although, i do find it a hard book to explain.

Yeah, a lot of that is probably because he was hopped up on drugs when he wrote it...

i think that is a common but false story about carroll.

Lewis Carroll was a mathematician and not a writer, so it isn't surprising the story isn't as finely crafted as you'd like.

Further, it was written ages ago (1862) so time makes it sound even more foreign.

Finally, he created what is essentially the first draft of the story on a boat trip with friends and was trying to entertain them with a lot of nonsense.

Personnally, I think it is brilliant, but to each his own. Anyway if you want to learn a lot more, go to these two sites:

The Prose is parodys of popular moralizing songs that little girls like Alice would memorize and then perform over and over again for their families. Little girls obviously found "You Are Old Father William" a screech in its day.

At San Francisco's Dicken's Faire there's a musical review featuring the parody lyrics and the original songs. It's surprisingly fun.

But yes, parody is funniest only when you know the original, and since only historians know anything beyond "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" from the originals, some of the humor is lost on today's readers.

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