Fairy Tales

The Alice Craze

Posted on March 13, 2010. Filed under: Books, Classics, Fairy Tales, Historical Fiction | Tags: , , , , , |

Yes, I’m adding to it, but I haven’t seen the movie. I’m still debating on it. A friend asked me to go with him, and I’m thinking of saying yes if I can convince him to pay for my ticket. 😉 Poor unemployed girl needs someone else to help her out. Haha.

Image Credit: The Victorian Web

I know everyone’s all up in arms over Burton’s adaptation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but I’ve never been a huge Burton fan. Sure, he’s a great director, but I’m not one of the people who makes plans to see his next hit movie each time it rolls into theaters.

So all that is to say: I’m not writing this because of the movie.

I am writing this because of Stacy and Alice I Have Been. Like a lot of people, I’ve seen the Disney adaptation that pulls elements of Wonderland and its sort-of sequel Through the Looking-Glass and then twists them in the way only Disney can. I didn’t really like the movie as a kid, so I never bothered to read the book.

Well, I’m here to admit it. I should have read the books before. After reading Wonderland and Looking-Glass, I wanted to kick myself for not getting a perspective on this world as a child. What would my opinion have been reading this book when I was 7?

Would I have, like with so many other tales–both book and film,–fallen into my own rabbit hole of fantasy and adventure? I was disappointed when I found no wardrobes to peek in after Narnia. I pretended to be whisked off to an English manor home from India where all manner of mysteries and secrets waited to be uncovered after The Secret Garden. Would I have searched out holes in the ground to fall into after Wonderland or attempted to press through mirrors after Looking-Glass?

It’s really a pity I’ll never know.

However, I do know that I enjoy Lewis Carroll’s tales, especially now that I’ve read them in preparation for Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been. I’m reading Benjamin’s book now, and it’s already fascinating after one chapter. But I’m here to speak to my take on Carroll. It’s one classic I really, truly, thoroughly enjoyed.

Aside from reading the notes in the Modern Library Classics edition of the book I got, I also read every footnote and the poems and letter thrown in at beginning and end for more perspective on Carroll. It’s intriguing because many scholars speculate that Carroll was some sort of Victorian pedophile with his collection of child friends whom he took on boat rides and told fantastical stories to. I think that’s a shame.

Carroll was a don at Christ Church, Oxford, where he taught mathematics. During his years at the school, he met the new Dean, a Mr. Liddell whose three daughters became Carroll’s young friends. The middle daughter was Alice Liddell, and as most of us can guess: the rest is history.

I love speculation as much as the next person, but really? I have no idea whether Carroll was attempting to court Alice in her early days at Oxford. It makes for a great story, though, especially considering he was 30 to her 7 years old, and he was required to remain celibate as a don.

I can hear the old gossips of Victorian Oxford now.

“Where is that young man headed?”

“Why, don’t you know? That’s Mr. Dodgson. Of course, he’s off to the Deanery to see the Liddell girls.”

“You don’t say! But truly he couldn’t be off to see them, could he? Surely you mean he’s off to counsel with the Dean. I hear he teaches mathematics, and you know those young men can grow boisterous–”

“No, I’m certain he goes to see the Liddell girls. Louisa was telling me yesterday he actually takes them to the field and plays with them, of all the–”

Well, you can see where that conversation was headed. 😉 I do believe we haven’t deviated much from those old hens and their tales of impropriety.

If you’re like me and you read the Alice tales, you’ll be enthralled by the vivid world of Carroll’s creation. But more than that I found myself immersed in a world where sense doesn’t have to make sense and nonsense more often than not has a thread of sense in it. Logic is illogic, and if I’m not careful, I’ll begin to sound like Big Brother and make mathematical errors that Carroll would have most likely corrected in his classes.

The lack of plot in both Alice books would normally make me shudder and run in the opposite direction, but it doesn’t. Instead, I embraced the Wonderland and Looking-Glass worlds with arms wide open, not expecting any sense to be found. And I was delighted because Carroll changed my opinion, perhaps not as intended but certainly in a good way, through his Alice.

As I watched Alice make her way through this zany new world, I noticed something intriguing. Originally I cheered the little girl in her white pinafore on because I felt she was the only one making sense in a strange land. But my opinion flip-flopped. I still cheered her on, but it was towards finding the peculiar formula of illogic that made the Looking-Glass world go round rather than towards finding her way back home again. And the other characters with their obvious misinterpretations and ridiculous rules became more and more sensible to me.

I may be the only one who feels that way, but it truly is what endeared the Alice tales to me. By changing my perspective in a world so far from normal, Carroll challenged me. And I always love a challenge.

I could go on and on. I gained quite a bit of insight from this simple children’s tale. But I’m already overdoing it. So what’s your take on the Alice craze? Enlighten me!

-Rae-

P.S. Sorry for the gigantic photo – for some reason it didn’t want to edit!

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The Story Behind The Name

Posted on January 29, 2010. Filed under: Books, Fairy Tales, Fantasy | Tags: , , , , |

I haven’t really joined NaBloPoMo yet, but I still plan to. It’s only a matter of time before I do. Before that, however, I wanted to update my blog with a short story about the blog title.

“The Book Wyrm” is something that I totally did not come up with on my own. It’s actually a concept introduced by an author who writes a fantastic fantasy series. Mercedes Lackey is the author of the series, and in a short bio, she is a fantasy author with more than 100 titles to her name. For myself, I’ve purchased most of her books from Wal-Mart, of all places, because they sell them there at a nice price.

Her series “The Five Hundred Kingdoms” began in 2004 with a rather amusing and quaint tale about a Cinderella wannabe who becomes a fairy godmother in a twist of fate that leaves her full of magical power, new tricks to learn, and kingdoms to watch over.

The sequel to that story is the book One Good Knight, which is, by far, my favorite in the series. Perhaps it’s because I like dragons. Or perhaps I have a penchant for genre-bending series. Either way, this particular story was both light-hearted and amusing with a plot that I loved.

I get my title from this book. Here’s an excerpt to explain:

“Instead of adding to that, Periapt looked back to them. ‘You know that all dragons collect treasure of one sort or another, correct?’ he asked, looking straight at Andie.

“‘That’s The Tradition, of course,’ she replied, ‘I don’t know how you could possibly escape that particular compulsion.’

“‘Well, our family does that, too, of course,’ he said. ‘But our treasure is a bit different. We’re librarians.’

“He held up his fore-claws and she saw that they had been blunted; looking closer, she saw that what was covering the talons were sheaths of some sort with blunt tips. Well, if they were librarians…they’d have to keep from damaging the books, wouldn’t they?

“‘Librarians,’ she said aloud, then grinned as she got it. ‘Good gods. You are Bookwyrms, aren’t you?'”

Mercedes Lackey's Second Book in the Five Hundred Kingdoms Series

My personal favorite of the Five Hundred Kingdoms series

Obviously, Andie is talking to dragons in this particular excerpt. I laughed so hard when I first read it. The wit behind it was perfect, the concept entertaining enough to keep my attention, and the writing impeccable.

So I adopted the title for myself. Not only do I love a good book, but I have a rather enormous library (similar to Periapt, the dragon Andie spoke with) that I’ve generally read through at least once.

In any event, if you’re entertained enough by the concepts introduced in this particular post and at all interested in fantasy, I’d suggest picking up Lackey’s series. It’s delightfully humorous and usually a very quick read.

I’ll be updating again soon since February is fast approaching. I’m going to join NaBloPoMo to keep up with my progress, but I hope you’ve enjoyed the posts so far.

Feel free to leave any comments or questions! Enjoy your reading!

-Rae

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