My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass (1871) by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson illustrate the child-ego’s attempt to mature and understand its own mortality in a world often found morally strange and ridiculous, a world that adults eventually learn to accept as normal. Alice is faced with the cruelties and strangeness found in Wonderland in the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter and Alice must learn to choose sides quickly in order to survive.
Lewis Carroll, as many know the author, is but the name ”Lutwidge Charles” in its Latinate form and it shows how Lewis also wanted to be someone else within his own fantasy, as many adults often dream. And it is this idea of Life and Dreaming and Death and Mortality that haunt this child’s story with hidden Death Jokes that often go unnoticed when read as a child. As Alice is falling and falling down the rabbit hole, she remarks:
”’After such a fall as this, I shall think nothing of tumbling down-stairs! How brave they’ll all think me at home!
Why, I wouldn’t say anything about it, even if I fell off the top of the house!”
(Which was very likely true.)’ (p 20).
True, because she would be dead and unable to speak much of anything.
Before the story ever begins with Alice in Wonderland, Carroll includes a poem that refers to the three Fates and to the inability to escape one’s own mortality:
”Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour…Yet what can one poor voice avail / Against three tongues together… And ever, as the story drained / The wells of fancy dry…’Like pilgrim’s withered wreath of flowers / Plucked in a far-off land.’ And we are all headed that way, that far-off land one day, in the end; no one escapes Death.
In the beginning, Alice is chasing Time itself, as all children do as Time is quite an illusive concept, just as the Rabbit is, to the child Alice. ”Burning with curiosity, she ran across the field” after the Rabbit in the waistcoat with pocket-watch (p 20); and thus, when she crosses into Wonderland, Alice grows up, physically that is, but remains a child within. And when she is in this strange world, she chases material objects and finds that the world is easier in some ways and more difficult in others. ”’Things flow about so here!” she said at last in a plaintive tone, after she had spent a minute or so in vainly pursuing a large bright thing…” (p 178). We find her once again referring to ”bright things” but only after she has learned her lesson: ”How she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood…and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale” (p 118).
What did she learn? Alice found that although she must mature and leave her childhood, physically, that she can choose to never lose the child-ego within and to remain innocent and not heed to the cruelties of the adult world that is represented in the Red Queen; but after, Lewis Carroll writes, what does life really mean, whether as child or adult, and so he finishes the two tales by asking: ”Life, what is it but a dream?” (p 239). Indeed.
And so, Through the Looking Glass Ends with this poem on page 239 (try and find the name within if you can):
A BOAT beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear —
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life, what is it but a dream?
No name, you say?
Circle the first letter in each line and you will have your answer:
And the name appears:
And Alice shall live on forever.
But, I must ask, why is a raven like a writing desk?
Leave your answer below in the comments:
Carroll, Lewis. (1865, 1871) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. New York: Signet Classic, 2000. Print.
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CG FEWSTON is an American novelist who is a member of AWP, a member of Americans for the Arts, and a professional member and advocate of the PEN American Center, advocating for the freedom of expression around the world.
CG FEWSTON has travelled across continents and visited such places as Mexico, the island of Guam, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Taipei and Beitou in Taiwan, Bali in Indonesia, and Guilin and Shenzhen and Beijing in China. He also enjoys studying and learning French, Vietnamese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
CG FEWSTON earned an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership and Administration (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors) from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the chance to work with wonderful and talented novelists like Richard Adams Carey (author of In the Evil Day, October 2015; and, The Philosopher Fish, 2006) and Jessica Anthony (author of Chopsticks, 2012; and, The Convalescent, 2010) as well as New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant (author of The Night Swimmer, 2012; and, The Wettest County in the World, 2009, made famous in the movie Lawless, 2012) and Wiley Cash (author of A Land More Kind Than Home, 2013; and, This Dark Road to Mercy, 2014).
Among many others, CG FEWSTON’S stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Sediments Literary–Arts Journal, Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, GNU Journal (“Hills Like Giant Elephants”), Tendril Literary Magazine, Prachya Review (“The One Who Had It All”), Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate Literary Magazine (“Darwin Mother”), Gravel Literary Journal, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer’s Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, “The Youth Newspaper.”
You can read more about CG FEWSTON and his writing at
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN won GOLD for Literary Classics’ 2015 best book in the category under ”Special Interest” for “Gender Specific – Female Audience”…
Finalist in the 2015 Chatelaine Awards for Romantic Fiction…
Finalist in the 2015 Mystery & Mayhem Novel Writing Contest…
Praise for A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN:
“Fewston delivers an atmospheric and evocative thriller in which an American government secret agent must navigate fluid allegiances and murky principles in 1970s Tehran… A cerebral, fast-paced thriller.”
“A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a thrilling adventure which takes place in pre-revolutionary Tehran. Author CG FEWSTON provides a unique glimpse into this important historical city and its rich culture during a pivotal time in its storied past. This book is so much more than a love story. Skillfully paired with a suspenseful tale of espionage, A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN is a riveting study of humanity. Replete with turns & twists and a powerful finish, FEWSTON has intimately woven a tale which creates vivid pictures of the people and places in this extraordinary novel.”
CG FEWSTON‘s new novel,
A TIME TO LOVE IN TEHRAN, was published on April 2, 2015 —
10 years to the day of the publication
of his first novella, A FATHER’S SON (April 2, 2005)
“Thus one skilled at giving rise to the extraordinary
is as boundless as Heaven and Earth,
as inexhaustible as the Yellow River and the ocean.
Ending and beginning again,
like the sun and moon. Dying and then being born,
like the four seasons.”
found in Sources of Chinese Tradition, p 5