Lewis Carroll accused of being on… crack? That’s a new one.

Alice in Wonderland, Juivenile Productions Ltd, 1952, illustrated by Willy Schermele

We normally let this type of article slip by unremarked, but this one was too good. Jerry Della Femina, who writes a column called “Jerry’s Ink” for the Long Island Press, published a rant last week titled “Was Lewis Carroll on Crack?” It is supposed to be a humorous piece about a grandfather suffering through his grandchildren’s school theater (the horror!) But besides his profound point that the Reverend Dodgson was freebasing cocaine, Della Femina’s thesis seems to be that no one likes Alice in Wonderland and no one has ever liked Alice in Wonderland. There’s some sort of conspiracy or vicious cycle dating back more than a century keeping it in the canon. I can think of at least one or two members of the Lewis Carroll Society who would disagree.

…Do you know a single human being who ever liked Alice in Wonderland? When you talk about over-rated pieces of doo doo, Alice has to be on the top of everyone’s list. And yet, since 1865, when it was first written by Lewis Carroll (while he clearly was on crack), we have had the Alice in Wonderland conspiracy, which has been passed on from parent to child.

Every child comes out of the womb hating Alice in Wonderland, but from the moment they are born they are force-fed the Alice treatment. They get started with musical mobiles spinning Alice characters around their cribs. They are read to sleep by the Golden Book version of the book…they watch Alice cartoons…they are forced to sit through Walt Disney’s interminable flop version. As they mature, they realize they’re bored, but they don’t want to break their parents’ hearts and tell them that this so-called classic is a stiff.

Then they grow up and have children of their own and what do they do? They inflict this moronic, confusing book on their own children. And if that’s not bad enough, every once in a while some jerk at the movies (last year it was the 3D bomb version starring Johnny Depp) or one of the networks takes a shot at boring the entire nation with still another version of Alice in Wonderland. There’s even been a porno version of Alice, and for crying out loud, that was boring too (er…er…that’s what they tell me).

3 comments to Lewis Carroll accused of being on… crack? That’s a new one.

  • Scandalous! I could not resist responding to Mr Della Femina. I don’t know if he will accept the critical comment. Here is what I said:

    What a load of bunkum. “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was a bestseller in its day and has never been out of print since. Few books have been translated into as many languages. MILLIONS of children and adults have enjoyed Alice for nearly 141 years. Moreover, it has inspired entertaining sequels, brilliant political satire and parody.

    There is nothing “moronic” about “Alice”. I think it is you who are confused. And if not… well, you are certainly in the minority.

    Michael Everson
    Evertype
    Proud publisher of a range of Carrollian literature

  • Thanks Michael for contacting him. I was actually considering putting his e-mail address in the body of the post – jerry@dfjp.com – just so he could get inundated with official responses from Lewis Carroll scholars. I’m sure his defense will just be that it was meant to be a humorous editorial, lighten up, et cetera – but in that case, his failed attempts at humor are almost more offensive than his attacks on invincible classic. I mean, crack, really?

  • Undoubtedly, his next salacious rant will be about how Old MacDonald’s Farm needs modernization for economic survival, and how Jack and Jill epitomize today’s domestic abuse.