NON FICTION Biography
Alice in Wonderland
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Throughout the years, several biographies about Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) have appeared. According to Jenny Woolf, each new biography was more and more about fiction instead of facts, and contained lots of speculation about his supposed pedophilia and drug use. Woolf tells us she tried to keep an open mind and stick to the facts, in order to describe the man he truly was.
Woolf not only turned to sources like Dodgson's diaries, but she also discovered Dodgson's bank account â€“ a source that remained untouched by his family members, and she uses his sources of income and his expenses to shed more light into the matters Dodgson found important (or did not care about at all).
It is interesting to read lesser known facts, like Dodgson writing more about Harry (Alice's brother) in his diaries than he did about Alice herself, that his friendship with the Liddell's actually started through Harry, and that Dodgson did not only have child friends, but many female adult friends as well.
Woolf refutes the descriptions of Dodgson as a recluse, weirdo, or druggie, by pointing out that there is no evidence for it at all (on the contrary), but on the other hand she does not try to mask that Dodgson, in later life, did become quite a fussy and eccentric man, and that there was in fact some gossip going around about his friendships with women while he was alive.
Besides the facts, Woolf does make several assumptions herself and comes up with her own theories. Her most interesting theory is, that Charles Dodgson spent so much time with little girls because he wanted to reclaim his own innocence. He was not sexually interested in them at all - on the contrary: in the Victorian age, children were considered to be sexless and represented innocence. Dodgson was a very religious man and was very afraid of doing anything sinful. Jenny claims that Dodgson used little girls as an â€˜antidote to sin', this sin being a probable love affair with a married woman.
She also states that Dodgson may have photographed girls in the nude, instead of adult women, because he loved to study the human body, but did not want to risk being sexually aroused by it.
So although Woolf does not just state the bare facts about Dodgson, but also tries to interpret them, and we cannot be sure that her interpretations are actually correct, she does it in a most convincing and plausible way. Her biography is pleasant and easy to read and I can recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the man who wrote 'Alice in Wonderland'.
The books contains 6 beautiful pages with pop-ups illustrated in John Tenniel’s style.
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This vintage Little Golden Book from 1951 retells the story of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland, based on Walt Disney’s animated movie.
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