I haven’t read this in years. I should have done. It was only as I re-read this story that I realised just how influential a good book can be. So many of Carroll’s metaphors, jokes and imagery has permeated common English usage, that I found myself wondering if some had already been in use at the time the book was first published.
My favourite story was the encounter in ‘Through the Looking Glass’ with Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the twin brothers whom Alice finds in a woodland. This was me and my brother. He’d use my stuff – sometimes break it – we’d fall out but as soon as someone else tried to get involved… It’s true that nothing comes between brothers and in the story, the twins have an interlocking dialogue that really comes into it’s own when Alice observes the Red King fast asleep under a tree:
“…’Well, it’s no use your talking about waking him,’ said Tweedledum, ‘when you’re only one of the things in his dream. You know very well, you’re not real.’
‘I am real!’ said Alice, and began to cry.
‘You won’t make yourself a bit realler by crying,’ Tweedledee remarked: ‘there’s nothing to cry about.’
‘If I wasn’t real,’ Alice said – half-laughing through her tears, it all seemed so ridiculous – ‘I shouldn’t be able to cry.’
‘I hope you don’t suppose those are real tears?’ Tweedledum interrupted in a tone of great contempt.”
A kid’s book? I can’t remember any children’s author beyond Philip Pullman, playing so willfully with philosophical concepts of self-identity, perception and the nature of time and certainly not with the ease – and the humour – that Lewis Carroll does in these books.
To buy this book containing both of the ‘Alice’ stories from Amazon, click on this link: ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’