Tuesday, October 27, 2009

newnoise1 on Alice through the looking glass

'The time has come,' the Walrus said

Okay, no more shirking on my promised Alice through the looking glass review. What put me off from starting was that a number of literary reviews refer to the book as literary nonsense. Well, well or 'curiouser and curiouser', I should cry. So the one book that's quoted in everything from finance to economy and psychology books and newnoise1 reviews is literary nonsense? Now I'll admit that I don't understand what the term literary nonsense means. For all I know it means very clever nonsense.

Nonsense aside

Alice through the looking glass is filled with a hundred warnings, for instance, the warning against the abuse of power. Can I quote someone else when writing a review on Alice? All power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely said by one John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902).

Compare Alice through the looking glass with Alice in Wonderland. In both books Alice is confronted by authority figures. The King and Queen chess pieces in Alice through the looking glass and the Queen in the pack of cards in Alice in Wonderland. These authority figures are either giving her seriously debatable advice or threatening to chop off someone's head.

The warning against the follow the leader mentality is supported by the Walrus and the Carpenter who are leaders with thousands of followers. Remember the oysters that followed them to such a sad end?

'Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat -
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Well of course it's nonsense! Very clever nonsense. Alice through the looking glass is a warning to children and adults to be weary of the advice the world has to offer and to think for themselves. Here is Humpty Dumpty's point of view:

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornfull tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean neither more nor less.'

Do not be fooled by the innocence of Alice the little girl. From Tweedledum to Tweedledee she is learning about the world and how to face it. She has to think on her feet, here is her reply to Humpty Dumpty's comments on words:

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'

If I didn't know better I would think George Orwell had a hand in Lewis Carroll's view on the use of words.

Both Alice books are political and social commentaries disguised as literary nonsense. These comments are universally true and relevant in all societies. Of course to write from the point of view of an innocent little girl gives you license to write what you want without getting into too much trouble. Those who should understand what you are saying will understand.

I prefer Alice through the looking glass to Alice in Wonderland but both are brilliant. When I don't find newnoise in the Alice books I am not concentrating!


  1. I love the books, too, especially Looking Glass. When I was twelve, I memorized The Walrus and the Carpenter (for fun), then learned my cousin who visited from California every summer had done so as well. Every August for years after, our official farewell comprised strolling the concourse of the San Antonio International Airport, reciting Walrus in unison. A behavior which, now that I think about it, might have qualified us for inclusion in the book. Hmmm. (whiskertips.wordpress.com)

  2. Hi Kathy

    Thanks for your comment. I think you and your cousin were what people refer to as precocious. Yes, I admit I had to use the spell check for precocious. You were also lucky, I can't think of anyone in my youth who would willingly recite The Walrus and the Carpenter with me without expecting a bribe. I really enjoyed your Blog HerStories Memoir Challenge # 2 and think your review of A Broom of one's own: Words About Writing, Housecleaning & Life will inspire writers and readers viewing the newnoise1 blog so I have linked it to this entry. I am not sure if this worked so I am including the link http://whiskertips.wordpress.com/tag/writing/

    Keep on making newnoise!