• Shea Robinson

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Book Review

Updated: Jan 10

Category: Camellias on Moss

Genre: Children's Fiction

I still remember the day in college that I was midstride to my next class when I stopped by the scholastic fair happening outside our campus bookstore. One table had a poster that I couldn’t walk away from. I won’t say this is what hooked me on Alice, but I can’t remember ever not liking this book. I love the puns (“That’s the reason they’re called lessons…because they lessen from day to day”). I love Alice’s curiosity and confidence despite her arrogance and privilege. I love the landscape where dream meets reality. I am interested in works that flip society on its head and show us how silly we humans are and so, of course, I love the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Matter, and the March Hare.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

“I don’t much care where.”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

“So long as I get somewhere.”

“Oh, you’re sure to do that, if you only walk long enough.”

But it’s the question on the poster that still catches me. “I can’t explain myself because I’m not myself, you see.” (To quote directly, using Carroll’s lovely double apostrophe, “I can’n’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir,” said Alice, “because I’m not myself, you see”). Depending on the emphasis you place on each word in that sentence, you are asked a question with a slightly different nuance. I’ve sat looking at that poster for years asking myself the same question. How can I explain myself if I’m not myself? What do I have to explain if I don’t know who I am? Do I have to know myself to be able to explain myself? What if I know myself and still can’t explain myself? And explain myself to whom? Then layer on top of that what Alice is actually saying is that she has quite literally changed to a smaller size than when she woke up that morning and the question is offered anew.

I fell down the rabbit hole and never stopped falling. I invite you to join me.

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