Audio fans! This just in:
“Life Elsewhere, a radio show from Tampa, FL, interviewed our current president, Mark Burstein, on Carroll’s birthday, January 27. The host, Norman B, was a bit obsessed with the usual canards about Carroll’s alleged fondness for young girls and drug use, which Mark defended to the best of his ability in a rather wide-ranging interview. Mark also begs your indulgence for any minor factual errors or anything else he uttered due to nervousness. The sound bites added afterwards are from the Jonathan Miller production. You can get a podcast or download an .mp3 at http://feeds.feedburner.com/wmnf/life_elsewhere (it’s the first half-hour).”
Carroll’s Queen of Hearts
DIVAFest, a San Francisco-based organization that promotes opportunities for women in creative fields, is holding their 13th annual fundraising gala on Wednesday, 2/19 , with a “Queen of Hearts” theme, tying into both Valentine’s Day and the Alice books. The festivities are scheduled to include a sneak peek of a show provocatively titled “At The White Rabbit Burlesque,” along with excerpts from other projects. The web site promises that the burlesque includes appearances by a number of Carrollian characters.
For more information, click me.
If you are an LCSNA member, then you will see this review in the Winter issue of our wonderful members-only magazine, The Knight Letter. But in case you’re a lover of literature who isn’t a member yet, I wanted to share my review of a dark and fascinating new poetry book. The opinions I express herein are mine, and not necessarily those of the LCSNA as an organization.
I don’t usually offer long posts like this, but in addition to alerting you to this compelling little book, it also gives you a taste of just one aspect of our terrific twice-yearly magazine. Like the rest of the LCSNA’s features, The Knight Letter is a labor of love and entirely volunteer-created. Even if you can’t make it to our meetings in person, many members join the LCSNA simply to delve into the delights of The Knight Letter, which features meeting recaps, Carrollian articles, reviews, amusing pop culture references, collectibles information, and of course, pictures and conversations. Many years ago it started out as a humble newsletter, only two or three pages long. Over the years it has blossomed into a full-fledged literary magazine of about 50 pages per issue. I read every issue cover to cover–it’s that good. And it’s free with membership in the LCSNA. To learn more about joining the LCSNA, click me.
by Jessica Young
Turning Point Books, 2013
Paperback, 82 pages
Reviewed by Andrew Sellon
On any given day, you can find articles from anywhere in the world pointing out aspects of our society—particularly our laws and politics—that seem to mirror the topsy-turvy, nonsensical worlds created by Lewis Carroll in his two Alice books. In Alice’s Sister, a quietly powerful book of poems by Jessica Young, the comparison comes closer to home, specifically to a family of four: a little girl named Alice, her older sister Mary, and their mother and father. All four are given their chance to speak out individually, and they do so in a fascinating mélange of styles and meters. The next-door neighbor who gives the girls piano lessons also contributes a voice, as do an omniscient narrator and a surprise character or two. The resulting narrative mosaic, divided into what might well be called four dreamlike fits, charts the course of an unspeakable event within the family that tears it asunder irreparably. But while the tale is told through many voices, this is not Rashomon; there is no disagreement here about what happened, only how to live with it.
The cycle of poems is further enriched by Young’s occasional inclusion of a few phrases from Carroll’s Alice books. The elegant and remorseful ironies she earns by weaving a few of Carroll’s playful words amongst her own somber ones will resonate deeply with any lover of the original works. Young also offers her own evolving versions of “Jabberwocky” at key points in her disturbing tale, continually recalculating the cost of trust violated. There, as in the other poems, the characters find not gleeful nonsense, but a numbness or non-sense that alters every familiar detail of the physical world and makes it suddenly alien, and possibly hostile, with scant hope of the sought-after escape or release:
My fingers move, my mind does too,
I hit a C and picture tea.
Mad hatted friend, what did you brew?
There’s so much it’s a sea.
The sea begins to rise, quite fast.
The houses gone, the whole world wet.
The landscape is now deep and vast,
and everywhere—a threat.
Yet, by the end, there are a few faint glimmers of hope and healing, bringing the cycle to a believable and satisfying close. Young is careful to note at the end of the book that this is not an autobiographical story, but that she hopes to do justice to the reality of the characters she has created. She has done so, admirably. My one minor critique is about a printing choice: For reasons that become clear, Young wants to set apart the poems narrated by the father. But rendering his poems in a very faint, gray print makes them a bit more difficult to read on the page than I think advisable.
The best compliment I can pay any book is to say that it rewards repeated readings. This one does. It is not for children, and it is not “feel-good” poetry. But it is likely to make you feel many other emotions as the compelling story slowly and inexorably unfolds before you.
For fans of Alice and classical music, here’s news via LCSNA member C.M. Rubin about a new full-length Alice opera. Composer (and opera singer) Dr. Gary Bachlund has created two one act operas, one for Wonderland and one for Looking-Glass, that can be performed separately or together. Wouldn’t it be nice to see someone produce this during the upcoming Alice150 festivities in NYC in 2015?
To read the interview, click me.
And here’s a bit of the score. (If the video doesn’t load, try refreshing this page in your browser.)
If you’re a fan of the various forms of puppetry, here’s a version of the Caterpillar scene from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as performed by a trio of puppeteers who also work at the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre in Manhattan’s Central Park. For this clip, they use both marionettes and shadow puppets. If the video doesn’t appear below, try reloading this page. Enjoy!
My thanks to artist and LCSNA member (and mimsy minion) Tania Ianovskaia for this description of a stunning recent production of Alice Through the Looking Glass in Moscow. We appreciate this information, Tania! Now, if only there could be a film of that production, or a tour of it in other countries. The imagery is simply wonderful.
“The premiere of the performance “Alisa v Zazerkalie” (Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll ) held in the Studio – Theater of Petr Fomenko took place in 2010. It became one of the best and most beloved performances of the theater. The Director of the show was of Macedonian heritage. Ivan Popovsky created an unforgettable dynamic, resulting in a merry and at the same time magic performance which lasted more than three hours. But nobody noticed how time flew as they watched – children and adults alike were delighted. The remarkable costumes were created by Serbian designer Angelina Atlagich and fairy tale set design was created by the group of talented visual artists called Artists Union, with the director among them . The lighting of the set , modern use of projections and dynamic music created the unforgettable atmosphere of the performance based on Carroll’s Looking Glass.
Some info about Petr Fomenko – Ever since the founding of his theatre in 1988, Petr Fomenko has been known for his experimental productions, which used to take place in a run-down old cinema house.
In 2008, Fomenko moved his troupe into fancy new digs overlooking the Moscow River – a marble and glass beauty built by architect Sergei Gnedovsky. Petr Fomenko passed away 9 August 2012 at the age of 80 .”
The selection of photos provided will give you an impression of what was going on stage:
The Mouse’s Tale – Mabel Lucie Attwell
For you history buffs (and I know you’re out there), author and LCSNA member Ruth Berman contributes this post. Thank you for sharing, Ruth!
“On Monday, I was interested to watch on the local PBS channel a show on “Hitler’s Favourite Royal” (a 2008 BBC production, but I hadn’t seen it before, and have the impression that it was being aired in the US for the first time with this broadcast). The “royal” of the title was Charles Edward, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Charles Edward’s grandfather, Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, was the younger brother of Ernest II, the Duke of S-C&G. When Ernest died without an heir, the duchy looked to Albert’s sons for an heir, and as the Prince of Wales could not suitably accept the position, the duchy got the second son, Charles Edward’s uncle Prince Alfred, as their new duke. When Alfred died without an heir, the duchy looked to Albert’s third son, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, who turned them down, and offered instead his son, also Prince Arthur. The younger Arthur thought leaving England and going off to Germany to be a German Duke sounded like a rotten job offer, and is supposed to have told his cousin Charles Edward that he had to take it, and he would thrash him if he tried to refuse.
So the unlucky Charles Edward was stuck with it, at the age of 16, in 1900. Charles Edward had been since birth the Duke of Albany, as his father, Victoria’s youngest son, Prince Leopold, duke of Albany, died before Charles Edward was born. Along came 1914, and Charles Edward found himself on the enemy side of the land of his birth. He managed to arrange to be sent to fight on the eastern front, against Russia and Poland, not directly against Britain, but when the war ended, the British government declared him an adherent of their enemies, and stripped him of his title of Duke of Albany. Then along came Hitler, and Charles Edward became one of his earliest and most fervent supporters (hence the program’s title). After the war, he was tried by the Allies as a war criminal and was ordered to pay fines that took away most of the wealth and property that had come with his German titles and had still remained. And after that he lived in seclusion until his death in 1954.
The TV show did not mention the Carrollian interest, but when Charles Edward was still little Prince Charlie, he and his older sister Princess Alice were among Lewis Carroll’s child-friends. Carroll recorded visits with them twice in his diaries, and taught them to fold paper to make toy pistols that would make a shot-like noise when ”fired.” Carroll wrote an acrostic poem, “Puck Lost and Found,” on Princess Alice and Prince Charlie, describing Charlie as a charming sprite (the Puck Found of the title), and recalling the fun of making toy pistols — all sadly ironic in view of the boy’s fate.
From the ever-popular “Almost Stranger Than Fiction” Department comes news that scientists have discovered a species of tobacco plant-eating caterpillar that “smokes” to ward off potential predators. No, really.
To read this curiouser and curiouser story, click me.
What better way to start the new year than with a classic 1930′s Alice-themed cartoon? Here is Betty Boop as Alice, in a “Blunderland” that only Max Fleischer could have dreamed up. If you haven’t seen this in a while, or if (gasp!) you’ve never seen it, sit back and enjoy! (If the video doesn’t display below, try reloading this page.)
In a recent post I noted the release of a new CD by alternative band Daniel Hales, and the frost heaves, called Contrariwise: Music From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Daniel wants to let everyone know that this Friday, January 10th at 6:30pm in Massachusetts, they will be holding their official CD launch party.
You can read more about the event, including details and ticket pricing, on this Facebook page.
And you can watch a live performance compilation clip they made for “The Walrus and the Carpenter” right here (if the video doesn’t appear, try reloading this page in your browser):