Thought-provoking article in Prospect Magazine by Richard Jenkyns

Prof. Richard Jenkyns

Prof. Richard Jenkyns

Issue 187 of Prospect Magazine contains a good article on the influence of the Alice books written by Richard Jenkyns, professor of Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. The article is free to read on Prospect’s website.

Jenkyns makes several interesting points that may get LCSNA members thinking and, perhaps, arguing.

Here are some extracts:

Previously, most books for children had been either educational or improving; the only purpose of Alice is to give pleasure. We have grown so used to bunnies in blue jackets with brass buttons that it is hard to remember how comparatively recent such things are…

Dreams are a solipsist’s kingdom: nothing exists in them except the dreamer. It is appropriate, therefore, that the people and creatures that Alice meets in Wonderland lack roundedness and solidity…

Figures like the Red and White Queens and the White Knight come with distinct personalities independent of Alice’s imagining. It makes sense of a kind for there to be speculation in the looking-glass world about whether someone else is dreaming of Alice; to pose that question in Wonderland would be preposterous.

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