“Lost, Just Like Alice”

After reading the entire book of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I can not say that I fully understand the book. I could not see, and still can not see, the symbols that Carroll is writing about. I attend a college prepatory school, but I still can not decipher what he is writing about. I am not saying that I am incredibly smart, but there should be some level of understanding. The drug reference with the caterpillar was the only synbol that I caught.

This may be because English is not my forte in the academic field. Math is my best subject, but wasn’t Carroll a Mathematician?  It is odd that a student who enjoys and is good at math can not relate or understand Carroll’s writing.

Another property of Carroll’s writing are his references to other materials. This book was written way before my time and therefore contains references to things that I have never heard of. There are annotations in the book that no one could really see unless all they were doing was looking for symbolism. There is an annotation about the number 42. How is someone supposed to know that that number has a deeper meaning than just the number?

It is anotations like that that make no sense to me. I can not read this book and undertand what each reference means because I was not alive then and the oldest year I could have taken a current events class would be 1993; there is no way I should know this. This explains why my class and I received the Annotated Alice. Now we can understand the references he makes, but can other people who have the regular book? Can any adult sit down and read this book, while saying to themselves that they understand almost everything that Carroll writes about. Most of the annotations are far-fetched, perhaps coincidental.

All this forces me to come to the conclusion that this is not entirely an adult book…or entirely a children’s book. No adult can comprehend all of the book, while most children do not comprehend any of it and only see the “child’s” view of the story. With our modern day perspective, there is no way we can understand everything Carroll wrote about because he wrote it in his time. If adults can hardly process it, then how will kids? How will teenagers who are supposed to analyze it?

That is what the Annotated Alice is for: to help us understand. Without it, we would be lost just like Alice in a wonderland of sorts.

This book is meant for children and adults, but not children to adults. I think the book’s meaning is lost on us high school students and college students. We do not like the “child’s” aspect of the book, nor can we appreciate the references Carroll makes and their meaning. That does not stop us from trying to understand the book, and learn of it’s prestige.

The book is for the people who can understand it the best, but also for the ones who understand it the least.

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Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 10:20  Comments (1)  

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  1. Very nice post Hagen! I have to agree with you that I feel almost as lost as Alice when I’m reading this story. I think the main reason that modern students have more trouble connecting to the jokes and riddles ion the story is because of the major time difference. Carroll wrote the story in 1865. That is way too far back for a student 104 years later to understand what Carroll is saying in certain situations. We are able to understand some of his jokes but most have to be explained by our teachers and the annotations. The issue is that we are slowly losing this great piece of literature as time keeps passing. I am almost scared to think how students are not going to be able to connect with this story 100 years from now.


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