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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded: The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Novel with its Many Hidden Meanings Revealed Kindle Edition
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland--published 150 years ago in 1865--is a book many of us love and feel we know well. But it turns out we have only scratched the surface. Scholar David Day has spent many years down the rabbit hole of this children's classic and has emerged with a revelatory new view of its contents. What we have here, he brilliantly and persuasively argues, is a complete classical education in coded form--Carroll's gift to his "wonder child" Alice Liddell.
In two continuous commentaries, woven around the complete text of the novel for ease of cross-reference on every page, David Day reveals the many layers of teaching, concealed by manipulation of language, that are carried so lightly in the beguiling form of a fairy tale. These layers relate directly to Carroll's interest in philosophy, history, mathematics, classics, poetry, spiritualism and even to his love of music--both sacred and profane. His novel is a memory palace, given to Alice as the great gift of an education. It was delivered in coded form because in that age, it was a gift no girl would be permitted to receive in any other way.
Day also shows how a large number of the characters in the book are based on real Victorians. Wonderland, he shows, is a veritable "Who's Who" of Oxford at the height of its power and influence in the Victorian Age.
There is so much to be found behind the imaginary characters and creatures that inhabit the pages of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. David Day's warm, witty and brilliantly insightful guide--beautifully designed and stunningly illustrated throughout in full colour--will make you marvel at the book as never before.
About the Author
DAVID DAY has published 40 books of poetry, ecology, history, fantasy, mythology and fiction. He has been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide. He has also been a magazine editor, a columnist for the Daily Mail and Punch, a scriptwriter for television, a playwright for theatre, and a dramaturge for the Royal Birmingham Ballet. His books have won numerous literary awards and been selected as "Books of the Year" by Time magazine, New Scientist, Parents magazine and The Observer. David Day's books--for both adults and children--have sold over 4 million copies and have been translated into twenty languages.--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
"This is the kind of book that could keep list-makers for an alternate-universe Buzzfeed site busy forever. . . . Day's book proves . . . that Carroll's work, and its indefatigable young protagonist, is itself a rabbit hole of mystery waiting to be discovered." —Quill & Quire
"For an exhaustive and entertaining account of how Lewis Carroll amused contemporaries in his favourite children's story, it may be impossible to top David Day's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded." —The Vancouver Sun
"It's no surprise to Lewis Carroll fans and scholars that Wonderland is a rich, multi-layered text. But Day's work engages and enlightens the casual reader in a way few scholarly works can, and the beautiful book makes for an essential keepsake for any Alice lover." —New York Daily News
"The book has never been out of print and each year brings new editions of—and books about—Alice in Wonderland. . . . Standouts this year include the beautifully illustrated and organized Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Decoded." —Chicago Tribune
"We all think we know Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but David Day's seductively scholarly new look at the background to the tale reveals the rich and labyrinthine workings of its creator and the Victorian mindset that inspired it. His lively, thoroughly researched investigations expand and enlarge all our ideas about the Alice story, and give a whole new life to a much-loved classic." —Michael Palin
"I've been reading the Alice adventures since my childhood, and David Day's book is the one I would have wanted to write, had I his talent, wit and wisdom. Decoded is the perfect vade mecum for all travellers, new and seasoned, who venture into Alice's realms. In the words of the poet, 'O frabjous Day!'" —Alberto Manguel, author of A History of Reading
"David Day combines the expertise of an academic with the fervor of a true Alice enthusiast. . . . In a remarkable act of literary excavation, Day exposes the historical references, classical allusions and subtly disguised symbols that he thinks Carroll embedded in the tale of Wonderland as lessons for his protégé, Alice Liddell. The volume includes Carroll's novel in full, supplemented by Day's observations as he painstakingly traces the various themes—music and philosophy, mathematics and poetry—that run through Carroll's narrative, proving along the way that Alice, even as it celebrates the absurd, exhibits airtight logic. Richly illustrated, this is a book Alice addicts will find irresistible." —BookPage
"David Day is the first author to demonstrate a complete understanding of the many mathematical ideas that lie below the surface in Lewis Carroll's classic fairy tale. No other author, including Martin Gardner and the editors of the many editions of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that have appeared in the past have undertaken this very important task. Day's interpretations are creative in both the literary and mathematical sense, and most importantly, are valid." —Francine Abeles, Professor Emerita, Department of Mathematics, Kean University, and editor of The Mathematical Pamphlets of Charles Dodgson
"Day has succeeded in making his thoroughly researched and persuasively argued book appealing also for lovers of Alice as well as for general readers interested in Victorian literature and society." —Library Journal
- ASIN : B00NDTS5VQ
- Publisher : Doubleday Canada (September 29, 2015)
- Publication date : September 29, 2015
- Language : English
- File size : 40159 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 597 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #367,440 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Guesses presented as facts: On every page Day includes educated guesses which *might* be true, but he frames as statements of certainty. Examples: "The real-life Oxford White Rabbit was Alice Liddell's family physician, Dr. Henry Wentworth Acland" (quite plausible), or "many aspects of Wonderland are parodies of Plato's Republic" (extremely implausible). A good chunk of these claims are within the realm of possibility, but as Day shares no proof, nor even a citation, palming off his guesses as facts essentially amounts to outright fibbing.
Suppressed citations: Every idea in this book which I find valuable, save one, has appeared in earlier Alice books, but Day deliberately withholds citations, saying only "I cannot now even guess how many [Alice books] I have read over the last couple of decades" and providing a short list of his favorites. So if you want to follow up on a claim to learn more, Day blocks you from doing so - your only hope is to read every Alice book ever published. If you wish to learn which claims are original to Day and which he borrowed from an earlier author, Day again blocks you from learning this. In the sciences this practice is called 'suppressing citations,' and it is considered a rather underhanded attempt to steal credit for other people's work.
Misinformation: Day's factual claims are often incorrect. For example, he calls the descent of Inanna 'the oldest recorded myth in world literature' - Gilgamesh is older. Day claims that Peter Llewelyn Davis was 'the inspiration for Peter Pan' - nope; J. M. Barrie said that Davies inspired his character in name only, but the press of the time jumped on the idea, tagging Davies as 'The Original Peter Pan' - that false claim hounded him all his life, and appears to be one the primary motivations behind his suicide in 1960. Obviously it suits Day's narrative to claim that the original Alice was in the same room as the original Peter Pan, but at what point does spreading easily-corrected misinformation that led to a human being's suicide become morally not-okay?
Mean girl tone: A lot of this book, especially the final chapter, comes across as a character assassination of Lewis Carroll. To advance his not-entirely-fair narrative, Day describes Carroll's behavior after being excommunicated from the Liddell clan as "like a jilted lover"; well, maybe - why not tell his readers which facts he's referring to and let us draw conclusions ourselves, rather than simply stating his conclusion, withholding the facts on which those conclusions are based, and tacitly insisting that we take his conclusions on trust? (After 300 pages of showing himself to be at least sporadically untrustworthy.) Day accuses Dodgson of hypocrisy for chasing celebrities, then bridling after he became famous himself and was approached by fans - but anyone who's read a single book on Dodgson knows his objection was not to celebrity-seekers, but to anyone who insisted on identifying him as Lewis Carroll after he had gone to extreme lengths to keep his pseudonym private (Google J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith to learn how profound a betrayal this can be). One could easily make a case that Carroll ultimately became ingracious in his political disputes with Dean Liddell, but Day's suggestion that Carroll was profoundly immoral simply for disagreeing with his powerful boss comes across as grossly unfair - he seems to have mistaken oligarchic authoritarianism for morality.
Extremely dubious guesses: Most of Day's apparently-original theories are of this level of quality - he suggests that 'Orange Marmalade' is meant as an anagram for 'Am Analog Dreamer.' I suspect that most readers will find this unpersuasive. The only section of this book I found entirely convincing, though hardly original to Day, is the suggestion that Carroll may have filled his story with reductio ad absurdum situations in imitation of Zeno - this is not a difficult claim to support, as Carroll identified Zeno as his favorite philosopher, wrote a variation of Zeno's race between the Tortoise and Achilles, and explicitly wrote that reductio ad absurdum scenes were his favorite type of story in the introduction to 'Sylvie and Bruno.' Most of the math patterns Day suggests seem wildly far-fetched to me, though I am not a mathematician and perhaps they are simply over my head.
Day's single biggest allegorical focus is the descent of the goddess motif, especially Persephone from Greek myth (who descends down a hole, encounters hateful women called Furies, watches as King Hades passes judgement on the dead, and ultimately returns to the surface). Day uncharacteristically shares his source for the Alice/Persephone connection, the book ‘Lewis Carroll: A Portrait with Background’ (1995) by Donald Thomas, in which the Queen of Hearts is compared with the Fury Tisiphone. At first I found the similarities too thin, but I was ultimately persuaded that Carroll was indeed explicitly linking Alice and Persephone by Carroll’s 1887 article ‘Alice on the Stage,’ in which he wrote “I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion - a blind and aimless Fury.”
As a lifelong reader of books about Alice, the one apparently-new idea here which really grabbed my attention is the possibility that Carroll may have intended an allegorical parallel between the rose garden of spiritual enlightenment from Cabala (set around a fountain) and the rose garden with 'cool fountains' which Alice spends the first half of the book trying to reach; there's no absolute proof, but we know from his diaries that Carroll attended Masonic events, Freemasonry builds on Cabala, and the full parallels are striking.
This book is so visually-pleasing that some readers might want it simply as an art object. We know from Carroll's surviving writings that there really are at least a handful of allegorical references to Oxford society and logic in the Alice books, and it's a good bet there are other allegorical bits in the stew. The best possible use of this book would be to whet the readers' appetite to learn more from Alice books which are perhaps a bit more level-headed and authoritative, in particular the fantastic annotated edition by Martin Gardner.
David Day's insights and commentary are incredible as is the amount of research that he has conducted into the lives and work of Carol's contemporaries and the parts that they play in his book. His explanations are clear, organized, and academic; his sentence structure is swoon-worthy.