Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Alice Behind Wonderland

The Alice Behind Wonderland
by Simon Winchester
narrated by Simon Winchester
Harper Audio, Inc.
2.7 hours

The photograph that graces the cover of The Alice Behind Wonderland (and which is described in the text) is the catalyst into Simon Winchester's explication of Dodgson as the photographer, erstwhile academe and poet who would find his greatest success as the writer of the enthralling tale about an English girl who falls down a rabbit hole. Familial, educational and religious influences are noted, as well as his relationship with the Lidells; but oddly, Dodgson's work as a mathematician, inventor and creator of word games - all of which are evidenced in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, are omitted. Also curious is the overall subject matter of the book for, The Alice Behind Wonderland is a brief biographical sketch of Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll,) not of Alice Lidell, the muse of Caroll's Classic nonsense tale. In addition to speculating on Dodgson's probable influences on the creation of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Winchester also devotes passages in refuting the never-proven idea that Dodgson was a pedophile. Winchester contradicts the argument, as most notably put forth in Karoline Leach's In the Shadow of the Dreamchild, with a cultural explanation as to the high number of children-as-subject-matter of Dodgson's photographs, as well as the fact that simply, no evidence exists to support Ms Leach's claim. Far from being boring enough to dry you off from an unexpected swim in a puddle of your own tears, The Alice Behind Wonderland is an interesting profile of the man behind Lewis Carroll.

The material is narrated by the author himself in a clear, easy-to-understand British accent. The audio brings to mind a favored college lecturer who would entertain as well as enlighten.

Other stuff: I received a dnload copy of The Alice Behind Wonderland upon request from Harper Audio. Every month, their publicist sends out an e-mail highlighting their current offering for reviewers' consideration.


  1. Yeah, I'm STILL confused about the title of this one.

  2. I've seen this book reviewed in several places. I think I should do what you've done - read the novel and then this book.