Long before the world knew anything of tablet PCs and iPads, David Neal had an idea for an animated audiobook that children could watch on a screen. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was the inspiration, more specifically the many talented illustrators who had brought the story to life. Fast forward twenty years and Neal has brought the story to life in his own way. As he puts it, “to make a long story short, twenty voices, three animators, an investor and various other help and ten or so months later, we have created Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, The 150th Anniversary Edition for Tablet Computers.”
In the audiobook, classic illustrations are animated and sometimes merge into each other. Watching the preview, it is quite strange to see Bessie Pease Gutmann’s white rabbit metamorphose into Margaret Tarrant’s white rabbit and from there into Alice B. Woodward’s white rabbit—hopping all the way. Illustration afficionados might like to take the opportunity to test their knowledge as the scenes unfold!
The audiobook can be purchased via the website Alice Winks for $9.95.
Last week, the Câmara Brasileira do Livro (Brazilian Book Guild) announced the winners of the 54th annual Jabuti Awards and we are pleased to relate that Alice found herself in the list of winning titles. Adriano Peliano of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil took third prize in the graphic design category for her book Aventuras de Alice no Subterrâneo (Alice’s Adventures under Ground) by Editora Scipione.
As the images below show, Peliano’s book is a triumph of translation and calligraphic skill. Each page of the Portuguese translation mirrors Carroll’s handwritten original; the transformation of the language is subtle and quite magical.
Alice’s Adventures under Ground; Carroll on the left, Peliano on the right
When I decided to recreate the manuscript in Portuguese, I intended to have it be as close as possible to the original object. In doing that I looked for a design that would seem almost imperceptibly different. The pictures, conversations, discoveries, doubts, surprises, obstacles, the strangeness and the delicacy, all came from Lewis Carroll’s original. His handwriting was recreated as if he had written the book in Portuguese for each one of us. In the translation I intended to imbue the words with happiness and invoke curiosity, to read the book as if for the first time.
I can even say that I share this prize with Lewis Carroll. This graceful book is a gift dedicated to him, to Alice Liddell, to a boat trip, to all Alices and rabbits in the world, but mainly, to the strength and magic from an encounter.
The Jabuti Awards honor excellence in Brazilian literature and publishing. “Jabuti” means “tortoise”—can anyone tell us the significance of the name? As the Mock Turtle said of his schoolmaster, so he might school us here: “We called him Tortoise because he taught us”, but what did the Mock Turtle know of Portuguese?
Aleksandar Antonijevic of the National Ballet of Canada
The National Ballet of Canada is on the move and they are taking Alice with them. Last weekend the company appeared at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles to perform Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon and scored by Joby Talbot. Ecstatic reviews suggest that the production was every bit as successful as the much-lauded North American premiere in Toronto in 2011 and it’s world premier in London earlier in the same year. North Americans will have another chance to see the ballet when it moves to the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. for performances from January 18 – 27, 2013.
Three thousand miles to the north west, the Connecticut Ballet recently performed an Alice in Wonderland aimed more squarely at children. The show, which included spoken narration by artistic director Brett Raphael, was performed once in Stamford and once in Harvard. The Harvard production, held at the Aetna Theater, part of the Wadsworth Atheneum, was just one in a series of ballets for families; Barbar the Elephant & Jungle Tales and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer will follow early next year.
The Cincinnati Ballet present Septime Webre’s ALICE
Meanwhile the Cincinnati Ballet has had the great good fortune to present the regional premiere of Septime Webre’s ALICE (in wonderland) from October 26 to 28. Matthew Pierce’s score was performed by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After a quick trip to the dry-cleaners, Liz Vandal’s outrageous costumes should now be on a plane heading south as Webre’s creation will next be performed by Ballet Hawaii in August 2013.
If you feel your day would benefit from a touch of ballet this very minute, check out the video below – it is an excerpt from the London premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, performed at Covent Garden. You know you are in Wonderland when a ballerina gets to eat jam tarts on stage.
Draw Me a Story at the San Francisco Public Library
The San Francisco Public Library has teamed up with the nearby Cartoon Art Museum for Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration, an exhibition of children’s book illustration featuring 12 books and 41 original works of art by artists from Ralph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway to twentieth century innovators of illustration including W.W. Denslow, William Steig and Chris Van Allsburg.
The exhibition opened in September and will run until December 2, but the best day to go will be Thursday, October 25, when LCSNA President Mark Burstein will be delivering the talk “Picturing Alice,” in which he will explore art inspired by Alice from the 1860s to the present. The talk will be at 6:30 p.m. in the main library and will be followed by a book sale.
If you are wondering what you could do this weekend that might bring a little more Wonderland into your life, permit us to offer the following suggestions:
If you live in New York, you could try to get last minute tickets to Then She Fell, a creepy trip down the rabbit hole staged in an abandoned hospital and described by the New York Post as “a fiendishly clever immersive theater piece.” If the show is all sold out, you could console yourself by booking tickets to AliceGraceAnon at the Irondale Center between October 21 and November 9. The play depicts an emotional collision between three girls: Carroll’s fictional Alice, the lead singer of Jefferson Airplane, and the anonymous narrator of Go Ask Alice, the diary of drug taking that caused sensation in 1971. Reviewers say it is seriously trippy…
If you live in Seattle, you could try and gate-crash the 110th Annual Conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association at Seattle University to see Amanda Lastoria of Simon Fraser University deliver a paper called “Selling Wonderland: How Lewis Carroll Built his Alice Empire.” In her paper Amanda will advance her thesis that Lewis Carroll was a publishing dynamo whose considerable business savvy has been little recognized.
If you live in Manchester, England, you could see Gaynor Arnold speaking at the Manchester Literary Festival about her new book After Such Kindness, a fictionalized account of the relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice Liddell. The event will be held at the Portico Library on Saturday at 6.30 p.m.
And if you live anywhere else, well, isn’t it time you started planning your Alice-themed Halloween costume? A good source of ideas might be this this photo slide show of recent and not-so recent big-budget, Alice-themed events. The slide show reveals both what a strange assortment of organizations decide on an Alice in Wonderland theme for their event (OfficeMax is one) and that the Canadian Cancer Society knows how to throw a good party.
Mahendra Singh’s illustration of “The Baker’s Tale,” from his graphic novelization of The Hunting of the Snark. “‘But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day, / In a moment (of this I am sure), / I shall softly and suddenly vanish away — / And the notion I cannot endure!’”
The Lavinia Whateley was a Boojum, a deep-space swimmer, but her kind had evolved in the high tempestuous envelopes of gas giants, and their offspring still spent their infancies there, in cloud-nurseries over eternal storms. And so she was streamlined, something like a vast spiny lionfish to the earth-adapted eye. Her sides were lined with gasbags filled with hydrogen; her vanes and wings furled tight. Her color was a blue-green so dark it seemed a glossy black unless the light struck it; her hide was impregnated with symbiotic algae.
Illustration from Lightspeed Magazine for the story “Boojum”
That’s the definition of a Boojum from the short story “Boojum,” by Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear, printed in the September 2012 issue of Lightspeed, a magazine of Sci-Fi and Fantasy fiction. There’s also a character named Black Alice. The story is online here, and ebooks of Lightspeed can be bought here or on Amazon here ($3.99).
Erin Stocks has an interviewwith the authors, and the first question is about the Carrollian title:
September 2012 issue of Lightsaber
Your short story “Boojum” happens to be one of my favorite science fiction stories written in the last few years, and I’m delighted we’re reprinting it in this issue. Some of our readers might recognize a “Boojum” as a dangerous kind of snark, a fictional animal species invented by Lewis Carroll, or maybe the intercontinental supersonic cruise missile dreamed up in the 1940s (and never completed) for the U.S. Air Force. Was the creation of the Lavinia Whateley influenced by either one of those?
We got the word from Lewis Carroll. The second story set in this universe, “Mongoose,” features monsters called toves, raths, and bandersnatches.
(Sarah: I don’t remember how we thought of crossing Lewis Carroll and H. P. Lovecraft, but since “The Hunting of the Snark” is one of my favorite poems, in retrospect it seems utterly inevitable. Bear: True story: Sarah and I once drove around Madison after a rainstorm looking at an enormous triple rainbow and reciting “The Jabberwock” to one another from memory. The intersection of Lovecraft, Carroll, whimsy, and horror seems inevitable once you’ve hit upon it.)
Sean Hennessey, “Humpty Dumpty is a Rabbit Hole” (2012)
An exhibition of work by mixed-media artist Sean Hennessey opens today in Washington, DC.
“Reimagining Wonderland’ interprets scenes from the Alice books as wall relief compositions using a rich combination of glass, concrete, steel, wood, paint, sound, video, LED’s and electroluminescent lights. In a nice long interview with the Huffinton Post Hennessey describes his inspiration and working methods and makes particular reference to the relief pictured on the right:
“For this series I took a page from my sketchbook for every chapter. It started with words, key elements, icons. For a series I make the frame sizes the same. I like consistency for a theme.
I wanted to do a version of “Humpty Dumpty,” I knew I wanted a concrete egg, I knew I wanted it broken, it took me a really long time to figure out what to put inside of it. Other things came out exactly how I thought they would. It’s a process until you hang it.”
The show will open with an artist’s reception tonight, from 5-8pm, at the 410 GooDBuddY gallery, 410 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC. The gallery does not appear to have a website but you can visit this Facebook event page for more details of the reception.
The door stops featured in Antiques Roadshow on PBS
In yesterday’s Summer TV round-up PART ONE, the evil ghost of Alice Liddell came back through the looking-glass in Syfy’s Warehouse 13. The characters in the show needed to use enchanted artifacts, such as the caterpillar’s hookah, to conquer the demon. Alice-related artifacts were also on a very different show this May, namely, Antiques Roadshow.
The popular PBSshow featured some lovely Alice in Wonderland carved door stops, appraised at $10,000-$15,000. The appraiser, Noel Barrett, said, “Alice in Wonderland is so much a part of our culture. And this imagery is just ingrained. And what to me is really exciting is, in carved wood, whoever created these did a masterful job of adding dimension to the wonderful Tenniel illustrations, which of course are touchstone imagery of Alice.” The guest originally paid $100 for them at an estate sale. More pictures and a transcription of the appraisal are here.
Last week, a show called Face Off, also on Syfy, had an episode called “Alice in Zombieland.” Face Off is a stage make-up competition, sort of like Iron Chef but with the contestants making monster masks. In this episode, “the contestants find themselves in the gorgeous Descanso Gardens where McKenzie tells them that the challenge this week is a mash-up between Alice in Wonderland and zombies. Some artists are psyched, but Sarah, who grew up in a Mennonite community, is stumped. At a loss for how to turn the Cheshire Cat into a zombie, she consults Nicole, who tells her to just mash it up.” This episode can also be watched online in HD on Amazon Instant Video for $1.99.
There pictures below were taken from FearNET TV, where there is a detailed review of the episode.
A still from Syfy’s Face Off, episode 304 “Alice in Zombieland,” from FearNET TV.
A still from Syfy’s Face Off, episode 304 “Alice in Zombieland,” from FearNET TV.
And now a look into the future of Alice television!
On the CW network, look for a cop drama based on Alice in Wonderland. You read that correctly. “Alice will be a modern-day big city detective,” reports Entertainment Weekly. “In this version, Alice discovers a fantastical world beneath Los Angeles. The working title is Wunderland (yes,with a ‘u’).” EW concludes, “What could go wrong?”
And finally, big news from Comic-Con. Last year we joked about the fact that the prequel to Zenoscope’s “Return to Wonderland” was called “Alice in Wonderland.” Indeed, the books have been among the top ten independent comics of the past few years. Now, the news from Comic-Con is that the television rights for the whole Zenoscope series were won by Lionsgate, apparently following a “six-studio bidding war.” Look for Alice Liddell’s busty ass-kicking daughter to enter a mad Wonderland on a major network sometime in the next few years. The entire series of Zenoscope novels are available at Amazonand where all fine comics are sold.
Lewis Carroll made a few cameos on television this summer.
BBC’s Inspector Lewis, on Masterpiece Mystery (also on PBS in America), had an episode in Season V called “The Soul of Genius.” The dead body in this whodunit was a professor obsessed with The Hunting of the Snark, and of course the Inspector has to delve into the poem to search for clues, i.e. a “legendary riddle hidden in Carroll’s philosophical story of an impossible quest for the unknowable.” Oxford’s Botanical Gardens are also visited. Here’s the trailer from the PBS website:
I’m not sure when PBS reruns it, but it is already available on DVD at Amazon.com, where it received mostly five-star costumer reviews, and is already available on Netflix(Season 5, Disc 1.)
Over on basic cable, Syfy’s Warehouse 13 had a creepy mystery involving Lewis Carroll’s mirror, which aired August 27. The trailershows the protagonist finding the Looking-Glass in the warehouse, and accidentally unleashing an EVIL SPIRIT from the other side, namely the “murderous” ghost of Alice Liddell.
Syfy’s websitehad further description of the plot:
Evil dead Alice Liddell, in the Warehouse 13 episode “Fractures.”
[...] Almost immediately, a ping comes in that a young woman has transformed from her meek self to a salacious thug. By the time Pete and Myka realize that Alice Lidell escaped from Lewis Carroll’s mirror – and the mirror somehow got out of the Dark Vault – they realize that she’s also able to jump from body to body using a shard of the broken mirror. [...] Artie narrowly escapes the attack from a waitress, possessed by Alice, but once outside, he and Vanessa confer with Pete and Myka. Artie won’t explain how he knows, but says that Alice is there to kill him. They call back to the Warehouse and direct Jinks and Claudia to find a trapping artifact – a hookah that appeared in “Through the Looking-Glass” [sic]- so they can re-contain Alice.
Even if you missed the first-run on TV, this episode “Fractures” can be watched online in HD on AmazonInstant Video, for $2.99.
Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid, now at the Carnegie Museum of Art
Two of the most famous photographs Dodgson made of Alice Liddell have been promised to the Carnegie Museum of Art: “Alice Liddell as a Beggar Maid” (1858, albumen print) and “Alice with Garland” (1860, glass negative).
The gift, from the collection of William Talbott Hillman, also includes key works by Roger Fenton, Julia Margaret Cameron, and Alfred Stieglitz and represents “an exceptionally important addition” to the museum, in the words of Linda Benedict-Jones, curator of photographs. “Indeed” she continued “they may pave the way for further collecting of iconic works by such recognized masters of the medium.”
I haven’t been able to find an image of “Alice with Garland” online. If anyone reading this knows where to find one, could you link to it in the comments below?