Thursday, May 26, 2016

Throwback Thursday Audiobook Review: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Series:     Alice in Wonderland #1
Pub. Date:1865
Re-Release Date:Dec. 2015
Publisher:Dreamscape Media
Narrator:Tim Gerard Reynolds
Length:3 hrs 5 min

It's hard to believe that this book is over 150 years old, and is still providing entertainment to the masses today. With Tim Burton's adaptation of Alice Through the Looking Glass having just been released, it inspired me to read the original series to see how things are translating so many years later.

I don't expect that this original classic is read much by youngsters today mainly because the antiquated speech would be so hard to follow and understand. I didn't have as much trouble with it as an adult, but I did have to listen closely to catch some of the clever puns and plays on words that were occurring.  Honestly the book is fairly nonsensical, but that is what makes it so great and provides such grand entertainment with CGI other filmmaker tricks these days.
'When we were little,' the Mock Turtle went on at last, more calmly, though still sobbing a little now and then, 'we went to school in the sea. The master was an old Turtle — we used to call him Tortoise — '
'Why did you call him Tortoise, if he wasn't one?' Alice asked.
'We called him Tortoise because he taught us,' said the Mock Turtle angrily: 'really you are very dull!'
Probably what stood out to me a little more in reading the story was the part featuring the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle because they typically do not make it to tv/film adaptations. While the Mad Tea Party is probably the most well known... the Gryphon and Mock Turtle take up almost twice as much of the story.  There were lots of lyrics and limericks in this part of the story, in the description of the characters' school days and the Lobster Quadrille. These characters, of all the ones in Wonderland, were the most relatable to Alice, having gone through their own version of sea school with punny subject adaptations such as reeling, wriling and drawling.

Speaking of the Mad Tea Party... I had quite forgotten how rude the Mad Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse were. The Hare and Hatter have gone mad presumably from the mercury that was used in making hats back then... but they are in this perpetual tea party because they offended Time, and so are always stuck at this particular time of day. I was surprised their part of the story was so short given the popularity of this aspect today.

Probably my favorite character though, along with many others, is the Cheshire Cat.  The Cheshire Cat spreads the "We're all mad here" sentiment and pops up to Alice at various times throughout the story. Apparently this character arose out of a popular saying at the time of the original story.  Folks used to say "grin like a cheshire cat" which is believed to have arisen in the town on Cheshire where they shaped cheese into the form of a cat. (Source: Wiki)
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”
While the latest Tim Burton films have strayed far afield of the original Alice storyline... I do remember adaptations from when I was a child that were a little closer to the original.  I particularly remember the Disney animated version that contained the oft-cut portions of the Mock Turtle and the Lobster Quadrille. Oh man, just having looked that up - I didn't realize it was released in 1951!  So it was already vintage by the time I was watching it in the 80s and 90s.  I remember watching so many versions of this story when I was growing up, and they are very hard to find now. One of my favorite versions back then was the 1985 adaption which cast Carol Channing (White Queen), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Caterpillar) and Ann Jillian (Red Queen). 

Do you have a favorite theatrical adaption of this story?  Have you read the original?