Lewis Carroll and Sir John Tenniel - Through the Looking Glass: And What Alice Found There

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No, I Don't Have it Backwards. I Enjoy This Book More Than the First

Oct 28, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Coherent story and wacky adventures

Cons:None

The Bottom Line: If you want absurd, this book is worth reading.


While I wouldn't swear to it, I have this vague recollection of greatly enjoying Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There as a kid.  So I was actually looking forward to rereading it.  Turns out I was right, this is a fun little book.  In fact, I like it more than Alice in Wonderland.

One cold afternoon, Alice starts day dreaming about what the world might look like through the looking glass.  Suddenly, the mirror begins to shimmer, and Alice finds herself in Looking-Glass House.  At first, she is quite amused to find that the chess board is alive.  But as she tries to wander out to the garden, she finds the pieces have grown to be life like.  Soon, she finds herself a willing pawn in their game, attempting to make it to the eighth row and become queen herself.  Along the way, she meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, not to mention Humpty Dumpty and the Lion and the Unicorn.  Will she make it to become queen?

To be perfectly honest, one reason I enjoy this book so much more than the first is that there is a coherent story.  Outside of the first couple chapters where Alice is exploring the house and garden, there is a specific purpose behind her wanderings.  True, she's still meeting strange creatures for surreal experiences, but they are part of the path.

I wondering how many of these characters she meets along the way are storybook characters - or at least old nursery rhyme characters.  For example, when Alice first hears about the Lion and the Unicorn, she quotes a poem that proceeds to come true concerning the two.  I've read it as such, but even so I feel like I am missing something.

Speaking of poems, this book contains several of Lewis Carroll's poems.  You'll find "The Walrus and the Carpenter" as well as "Jabberwocky."

I had forgotten just how much Disney borrowed from this book for his Alice in Wonderland movie.  Beside Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Alice finds herself in a garden of talking flowers in this book.  Granted, they don't sing to her.  Also, it is Humpty Dumpty who first introduces Alice to the idea of an unbirthday.

Another thing I like about the book is the fun way the mirror world is used.  Alice walks away from something to get closer to it, for example.  And the faster she runs, the more she stays in place.  My favorite example involves the White Queen, who howls in pain before she is pricked by a pin.  As soon as it happens, she moves on and thinks it is silly to cry now that it has happened.

Okay, so some of that has to do with this being another of Alice's dreams.  A few times, Alice doesn't know how she got to the next scene.  I've had dreams like that.  That might help account for running in place or moving away from something to get to where you want to be as well.  But either way, I enjoyed those scenes.

For a book that is about 150 years old, the language isn't that bad.  I remember reading it in late elementary school and following it just fine.  And I'm sure even younger kids would enjoy it if it were read aloud to them.

While there is nothing wrong with Alice's first wacky adventure, Through the Looking Glass is the superior book.  It's plot gives it a more coherent framework on which to hang the absurdity.

This review is another entry in Lean-n-Mean VIII.

Related Reviews:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - The Book 
Alice in Wonderland - Disney Movie


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