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Book review: “The making of Lewis Carroll’s Alice – and the Invention of Wonderland”

This month a new book about the origins of the ‘Alice’ books was published: “The making of Lewis Carroll’s Alice – and the Invention of Wonderland”, written by Peter Hunt.

In the book, Hunt mainly discusses the three ‘layers’ that can be found in the Alice in Wonderland books (including Alice’s Adventures Under Ground):

  1. Private jokes that only Alice and her sisters would understand (mainly in “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”);
  2. References to things in their society;
  3. Dodgson’s private thoughts and feelings (mainly in “Through the Looking Glass”).

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Limited Edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, signed by Alice, for sale

A limited edition copy of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is for sale on eBay. It is special, because it was signed by the real Alice.

In 1932 there was a celebration of the centenary of Lewis Carroll’s birth. Alice Liddell (by then married and named Alice Hargreaves) received an honorary degree from Columbia University, for which she traveled to New York. For this centenary, a limited edition of 1500 hardcover books was published, which were all signed by Alice (and also by the typographer and binder, Frederic Ward).

Cover and slipcase of the 1932 signed edition

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Turkish translation of “The Annotated Alice” available

Martin Gardner’s very popular “The Annotated Alice” is now also available in Turkish! It is perfect for everyone who wants to understand the story of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” better, but is not very proficient in English.

In “The Annotated Alice”, Gardner has added many annotations to the stories “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there”. These annotations explain amongst other puns and references, or provide more background information that helps you place the story in a Victorian perspective, enabling you to enjoy it as the readers in that time did.

This Turkish version, which was published yesterday, is not a translation of the most recent version of the book (“The Anniversary Deluxe Edition”, published in 2015), but of “The Definitive Edition” from 1998.

You can order the book from Alfa Kitap’s website.

Cover of the Turkish translation of "The Annotated Alice"

First edition of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ with original pencil sketches by Tenniel for sale

A first edition of ‘Through the Looking Glass and what Alice found there’ is being offered for sale. The copy is special, because it contains two original pencil drawings from the illustrator, John Tenniel.

The copy bears pencil sketches of Humpty Dumpty on the wall and Alice holding a fawn. The images are reversed, in imitation of what Tenniel would have drawn on the wood for the engraving process. There’s also an inscription with Tenniel’s monogram and the line “Ever yours”.

Two pencil sketches by John Tenniel in Through the Looking Glass

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Book review: The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books

A second edition of “The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books” from Michael Hancher was published last month. Read what has changed compared to the first edition and whether this second edition is (also) worth buying.

Cover of Michael Hancher's "The Tenniel illustrations to the 'Alice' books"

The first edition

For those that are not familiar with the first edition, let me first describe what the book is about.

In “The Tenniel illustrations to the ‘Alice’ books”, Hancher discusses in great detail how John Tenniel’s illustrations for both ‘Alice’ books were possibly inspired, consciously or not, by existing works of other illustrators. He also discusses what the recurring elements in Tenniel’s style of drawing are, which leads to similarities between the ‘Alice’ illustrations and his earlier work for amongst others the magazine ‘Punch’. He also tells us how much influence Carroll had on the illustrations and how much freedom Tenniel received from the author.

The first chapter, about resemblances between Tenniel’s earlier work and his Alice illustrations, is quite extensive. Later chapters are rather short and each discuss one illustration from the ‘Alice’ books specifically.

The last two chapters concern the process of woodcutting and its quality, printing techniques, and picture placement within the ‘Alice’ texts.

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Japanese translation of “The Annotated Alice” soon available

Next month a Japanese translation of the 150 Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Martin Gardner’s “Annotated Alice” will be published.

“The Annotated Alice” is a very well-known and recommended book in the ‘Alice’ community, as it explains a lot of the background of the story. Both ‘Alice’ stories are printed in full and are supplied with many annotations in the margins.

The book has been updated several times, which led to new editions. The 150 Anniversary Deluxe Edition was published in 2015, when the story of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” celebrated its 150th birthday.

On 19 December 2019 a Japanese edition, translated by Gakuma Hiroshi Takayama, will be published.

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Book review: “Lewis Carroll – The Worlds of His Alices”

Edward Guiliano recently published his new book “Lewis Carroll – The Worlds of His Alices”. In it, he discusses the works that Lewis Carroll produced throughout his lifetime and what they tell us about his personality and skills.

When I heard about this book and read its description, I didn’t really know what to expect. Apparently it wasn’t a biography, but an ‘analysis’. I wondered what exactly would be analysed and how deep it would dive into all those topics – as the book seemed to cover numerous works, it possibly couldn’t be very thorough? And how much focus would there be on the ‘Alice’ books (which of course I’m interested in most)?

The publishers were kind enough to provide me with a copy, so I was able to write this review for everyone else who is wondering whether they should purchase this book.

Cover of "Lewis Carroll - The Worlds of His Alices"
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