Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everything I Know I Learned from Lewis Carroll

This week (January 27) marks the 178th birthday of Charles Dodgson, better known as author Lewis Carroll (1832-1898).

With the new movie adaptaion of his ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND due out soon, there will no doubt be more interest in Mr. Carroll. I wonder what he would think of that. I wonder what he would think of the movie. I can't help thinking that he and Tim Burton would find lots to talk about.

The Alice story was born "on a golden afternoon," to amuse three little girls. Dodgson and three young sisters, Lorina, Alice, and Edith Liddell, took a boat trip on a river one day. Dodgson made up the story of Alice, the White Rabbit, the Mad Hatter, and the others to pass the time and to delight the girls. It was Alice Liddell, the star of the story, who begged him to write it down. After some prodding, he did, and it was published under his pen name, Lewis Carroll. The book was an instant hit with both children and adults. It made the name Lewis Carroll famous. Even Queen Victoria was a fan.

But Dodgson never forgot that the story had been written, not for the world, but for his young friends. The book actually begins with a poem about that "golden afternoon" on the river, when three little girls giggled and gasped and begged him to tell them more. In other words, the story was written just for fun. As the best stories often are.

"Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out-
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun."

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