Movies > The Secret World of Lewis Carroll

About officially released Alice in Wonderland movies, like Disney's cartoon and Tim Burton's movie.
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The Secret World of Lewis Carroll

Postby RonPrice » Fri May 01, 2015 11:15 am


Part 1:

The Secret World of Lewis Carroll was televised on ABCTV on 28/4/'15(8:30 to 9:30 p.m.). For fans of both literature and scandal The Secret World of Lewis Carroll (BBCTwo) was a wonderfully engaging portrait which showed both the scandalous and the imaginative side of Carroll. Martha Kearney, the presenter, left viewers with the question: "was Lewis Carroll a repressed paedophile?"

The Alice in Wonderland creator Lewis Carroll invented the Alice story on a river trip with his 10-year-old friend Alice Liddell, a self-possessed little girl, we were told, with whom Carroll was entranced. This BBC documentary examined Carroll's relationship with children.

He took photographs of Alice Liddell's two sisters in 1859. This enthusiasm for photography was a common, a mainstream and fashionable Victorian pastime. Carroll, though, seemed to be unusual at least insofar as his ceaseless pursuit of, and a passion for, juvenile feminine company and photographs. Some critics argue, though, that this personal idiosyncrasy of Carroll's was just a response to a prevalent aesthetic, artistic, and philosophical movement of the time.

Part 1.1:

The English author, journalist, political commentator and television personality Will Self, interviewed in this doco, described Carroll as being 'a repressed paedophile'. Classics and English expert Robert Douglas-Fairhurst argued, on the other hand, that however much it is "tempting to think of Carroll as a Victorian Jimmy Savile,1 in fact, there are dozens and dozens of records from girls whom he befriended. They all made it clear that there was a kind of ritual to their friendship. It involved kissing them chastely and that was it.” Savile(1926-2011), it may never be forgotten, and you may remember, was one of Britain's most prolific predatory sexual offenders.

Part 2:

Many people believe Carroll was an innocent who simply enjoyed the company of children, and there is no evidence of misbehaviour. Program presenter, Kearney, tried to end on a positive note: “Perhaps we’ll never find out the truth about Lewis Carroll no matter how much we delve.” But, after her programme, many viewers were likely to have decided that they now knew precisely what the damning truth was. It must have been tough for Kearney to do all that delving into her hero's life as she did..

The programme located a previously unseen photograph almost certainly taken by Carroll. It showed a girl stripped off, revealing her developed, adolescent body. And it seems she was Lorina, Alice’s older sister by three years. Carroll, who died in January 1898, befriended Alice Liddell and her two sisters when they were children. It was Miss Liddell who was the inspiration for the famous book. Researchers, working on this documentary of the 150th anniversary of the publication of the much-loved children's book, discovered these disturbing images.1 -Ron Price with thanks to 1Terry Ramsey, The Telegraph, 31/1/'15.

Part 3:

Dodgson1 was also keenly
interested in adult women,
it should be emphasized to
all those who come to read
this my prose-poem, and he
had a sense of sin being the
devout Protestant that he was.

The year 1863 was a very big
year for this famous author, a
writer of some 100,000 letters,
who took his Alice manuscript
to Macmillan's. This work was
published in the last year of the
civil war, and the same year as
the first Western book written in
its entirety on the subject of the
Babi religion3 was published by
a university: '65 was a big year!

1The name of the author of Alice in Wonderland was Charles Dodgson better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll.
2 The American Civil War, 1861-1865; Congress passed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in America, and Abraham Lincoln was shot & killed while attending the play "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre.
3 Mirza Kazem-Beg of St Petersberg University published Bab Babidy.

Ron Price
1 May 2015

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Postby Jess » Sun May 03, 2015 1:33 am

I also watched this documentary, and I felt like they were over-eager to "prove" that the photo was genuine. I'm not saying it isn't - the girl in the photo certainly resembles Lorina - but a few things struck me as odd, or at least needing more explanation to solidify them as valid points:

1. The photo was credited to "L. Carroll" - but which name did he use for his photography? Should a genuine photograph be credited to Dodgson?

2. The evidence (other than the girl's resemblance to Lorina) was that it was from the correct time period, camera type and development method. Fair enough, but how common were they? And are some of them 'linked' rather than three separate elements of evidence? (eg. Did everyone at that time use that method of developing photos? Was the camera very popular?)

3. How would the photograph have been considered at that time? There seemed to be too much "it's shocking to us in modern times! How terrible!" without clearly explaining whether it would be scandalous at the time.


Anyway, I'd have rathered not know about the photo, but that's done now.... I enjoyed the first bit of the documentary, and would have liked to see a bit more of the scenery.

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The Secret World of Lewis Carroll

Postby RonPrice » Sun May 03, 2015 3:02 am

You raise good questions, Jess. Thanks for your response. This doco increased my interest in Dodgson. I am informed on Wikipedia that "when a friend asked him about his religious views he wrote in response that he was a member of the Church of England, but "doubted if he was fully a 'High Churchman'".

He added, and I quote, "I believe that when you and I come to lie down for the last time, if only we can keep firm hold of the great truths Christ taught us—our own utter worthlessness and His infinite worth; and that He has brought us back to our one Father, and made us His brethren, and so brethren to one another—we shall have all we need to guide us through the shadows."

This sense of sin is very strong in both Protestant and Catholic Christianity and I wondered to myself how he dealt with that aspect of his world view in his daily life. That sense of sin is still strong, although I suspect in recent decades in many of the Protestant sects and denominations that this sense has cooled-off somewhat.-Ron

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