Alice in Wonderland
Yesterday we went for a walk along the shoreline of Riva Del Garda and then we went to the library once it opened. I was particularly interested in getting something in English, preferably poetry. What I decided to take home was this copy of Alice in Wonderland and the Great Gatsby.
Now, I’ve red bits and pieces of Alice in Wonderland in English over the years and have seen films based on the book. But I’ve never read the whole book in English (read it a few times in Italian though 😉 ) so I felt it was really about time!
I like to read introductions. Once upon I time I used to just jump over them, but over the years, I’ve found the background information to be really fun.
Here the introduction begins in a “Oh, how boring to have to tell this story which everybody knows, but oh well…I might as well get it over with…” sort of attitude and I’m informed that of course Alice in Wonderland was a story that mathematician Charles Dodgson told to a little girl, Alice Liddell and her sisters one afternoon whilst he and another friend were off having a picnic. He ad-libbed the story as they rowed up the Thames from Oxford to Godstow so well, that his friend Duckworth wanted to know if he were inventing it as he went along. The children loved the story and Alice insisted that Dodgson should write it down for her, which he promised to do.
One thing led to another and finally Dodgson was convinced by his friends that he should publish the book. He contacted John Tenniel to do the illustrations, who was already popular though his Punch cartoons and for his illustrated edition of Aesop’s Fables, he was very good at drawing animals in unusual situations.
It seems that Dodgson was a very difficult client and hounded Tenniel until he was perfectly happy with the illustrations. In the introduction it says that i Dodgson used Tenniel dictatorially, almost as amanuensis to give visible form to his ideas which he didn’t have the talent to draw…but here, have a look:Dodgson paid Tenniel for his work and he paid for the printing of his book as well…and in fact used Macmillan only as a publisher on commission! I don’t know when Macmillan acquired the rights to Alice in Wonderland, though it was after his death in 1898…for even the last publication where he wrote the preface there is reference to his expenses in printing the books:
For more information about Lewis Carroll read here on the Wikipedia. Then of course Goodreads,and The Lewis Carroll Society of North America.
I also think this article is very interesting…for example I didn’t know that Dodgson was also a photographer! Oxford DNB: Dodgson, Charles Lutwidge:
This bit is interesting from the Indie Author point of view:
“Dodgson sought always to provide his readers with books of the finest quality, and because of an unusual relationship with his publisher, Macmillan, he achieved exceptional results. Macmillan arranged for printing and distribution of his books in exchange for a 10 per cent commission, but Dodgson paid all costs of printing, illustrating, and advertising, retaining control and making all decisions. He was, consequently, able to suppress the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 because his artist, John Tenniel, was not satisfied with the printing of the illustrations; and, dissatisfied himself for one reason or another, he disposed of an inferior edition of The Game of Logic in 1886; in 1889 he condemned the entire first run of 10,000 copies of The Nursery ‘Alice’, and in 1893 scuttled the sixtieth thousand run of Looking-Glass.”
Well…let me go on now and actually continue reading Alice in Wonderland…I’ve gotten to where Alice has just escaped from the White Rabbit’s house….I was just fascinated by the author whom I’ve actually read very little about, as is par my usual (sigh), so perhaps you all know all this info, like the introduction implies…but for me…it’s news!
Oh, have a good day!