Holmes and Dodgson/Carroll? It is not terribly surprising that these two 19th-century literary icons with ontological dilemmas* sometimes appear together as dual protagonists in fiction and drama. From novels like In Pursuit of Lewis Carroll (1994), Sherlock Holmes and the Alice in Wonderland Murders (2000), and Sherlock Holmes: The Adventure of the Deadly Illusion (2013), short stories like “The Case of the Detective’s Smile” and “Alimentary, My Dear Watson” from Sherlock Holmes in Orbit (1995), through Sherlock Through the Looking-Glass (2013), a play, these two have been amusingly intertwined.
A new novel joins the fray: Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Grinning Cat by Joseph W. Svec III. “When the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter turn up at 221-B Baker Street to enlist the help of Sherlock Holmes in locating Alice, who is missing from Wonderland, and Lewis Carroll himself, who is also nowhere to be found, there begins an adventure more stranger and curious than anything Sherlock ever encountered.” The book will be reviewed in an upcoming Knight Letter.
* Sherlockians insisting on treating him as having actually existed, and, at least in the latter part of his life, Dodgson’s denial that he was Carroll (if not he, who?).
From Blouinartinfo comes this tasty article about a new dessert restaurant by chef Sarah Barber in London making Alice themed desserts, but these desserts are an artform unto themselves:
Here, desserts are as desserts should be: much, muchier, muchness. For a start, Berber has orchestrated a series of tasting menus to take you down the rabbit hole. These range from the three-course Childhood Memories menu with evergreen favorites like rhubarb and custard, to what looks like the dessert restaurant’s crescendo: the five-course Sarah in Wonderland menu. Opt for the latter, and a mere £42 will go an awfully long way to pleasing you and/or a dinner companion. Beginning with the savory Milky Way of goat’s cheese, wild honey and beetroot snow; and Chicken Foie with quince and brioche, so as to prepare the palate for a playful full-on assault of sweet plates, optional wine flights can also accompany each menu (think a bubbly glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene with the Milky Way). It only gets curiouser and curiouser with Berber’s fantastical Alice in Wonderland-inspired dessert creations. There is the Queen of Hearts, a concoction of raspberries, champagne and, yes, roses; the Mad Hatter, expertly assembled with black forest gateau, kirsch and cherries; and finally, Eat Me, Drink Me, made with Snickers and a chocolate malt shake you can simultaneously bite into and drink up. Guests who know exactly what they want can go for the four-course Pick n Mix menu that lets them select from both a sweet menu and a savory one, including the White Rabbit with Acapella cheese, artichokes and black truffle; and Salmon Tart with silky avocado.
For those interested the restaurant is just off Piccadilly Circus.
The divine Scarlett Johansson reads the unabridged Adventures in audiobook format, sadly only available in Amazon’s Audible app. But you can get a free sample to listen to on your smartphone or computer, or get the whole book free with a trial membership. I listened to the sample; she reads very well (not attempting an English accent), but the pauses from the editing were annoyingly noticeable, and occurred at least once a sentence. If you’re doing something else at the time, such as driving or buzzing around the house, that might not be a problem.
ALICE is the acronym for A Large Ion Collider Experiment, one of the largest experiments in the world devoted to research into the physics of matter at an infinitely small scale. Hosted at CERN, the European Laboratory for Nuclear Research in Geneva, this project involves an international collaboration of more than 1500 physicists, engineers, and technicians probing into fundamental questions of matter. While it is not certain they named it after our Alice, they do use language such as “you are invited to tumble down the rabbit hole into the wonderland of ALICE” on the site, and she is definitely a universal symbol for surreal encounters with the unknown. Read all about it here. They have lots of nice swag; unfortunately, it is only available on site as they don’t do mail order.
Lithuanian artist Natalie Shau (many of whose Alice-inspired illustrations can be found in her book Lost in Wonderland; a post about her is forthcoming) turned me on to this Russian-language animation of Wonderland, a series of three nine-minute episodes produced in the Soviet Union in 1981, by order of the USSR State Committee for Television and Radio, by the Kievnauchfilm Studio in Kiev. It was produced and directed by Yefrem Pruzhansky from a script by Yevgeny Zagdansky based on the translation by Nina Demurova, who consulted on the film. The music is by Vladimir Bystryakov, but some was, ah, borrowed from a few uncredited composers (e.g., Mozart, Respighi and Boccherini) and pop groups. Voice talents are by some of the USSR’s best actors; Alice was voiced by Marina Neyolova. The complete episodes can be found on YouTube: Part I, Part II, Part III. These are not subtitled or dubbed, but you can get a flavor of it in a subtitled Part I here. According to its Russian Wiki entry, it has been released on DVD several times.
The same studio and cast followed up with a four-part Looking-glass a year later: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.
A BBC survey of the reading habits of 2,000 Britons disclosed that the book most likely to be claimed to have been read, yet wasn’t, was … War and Peace? Lord of the Rings? No, our Alice!
It also found that “one in four bluffed about reading a classic when a TV adaptation of it was shown, with the most popular reasons being not wanting to miss out on the conversation and wanting to appear more intelligent.”
But the good news is that the survey also “found that film and television adaptations actually encourage viewers to pick up the original text, with 44 per cent saying they would be tempted to pick up a book if it had been deemed worthy of an all-star dramatisation.”
Glad tidings, we suppose, although whether the recent (and forthcoming) Disney debacles could be called “adaptations” is somewhat moot.
(The painting above is Alice in Wonderland by George Dunlop Leslie, 1879.)
From our Russian correspondent we have news of a fantastic exhibition in Moscow including a statue of Lewis Carroll! From the Moscow Times:
The exhibition “Alice in Wonderland” is dedicated to the anniversary of the famous book by Lewis Carroll. It opened recently in Saltykov-Chertkovs mansion. The location for the exhibition is not accidental. The famous writer, mathematician, logician, philosopher, deacon and photographer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) spent his whole life, without leaving his native England. However, there is one country for which he made an exception, and that was Russia. In 1867 Lewis Carroll made his first and only trip abroad – to Russia. He visited Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Sergiev Posad. He came to our country with the mission of supporting cooperation between the Anglican and Orthodox churches. In Moscow he visited the famous library in the mansion Chertkov on Myasnitskaya Street. After a century and a half, an exhibition dedicated to his “Alice” was opened at this museum.
The Moscow exhibition is made on the principle of “opening episodes”, each visitor will be able to look at the story told by Carroll more volume. In addition to illustrations of produced for the book throughout the years, the exhibition will have the honor of presenting the beautiful stained-glass windows by British artist Geoffrey Webb for the first time, which decorate the chapel in Daresbury, Cheshire, in the cherished home of the famous writer.
On a show space of 1500 square meters, fantasy worlds come alive for both children and adults. As soon as visitors step into the old mansion they will feel that it is not just a house, but a real place of wonders. There is a seven-meter mirror, the ‘looking glass’ through which Alice entered a different world, a “hanging” library, a “disappearing garden”, the largest kaleidoscope in Europe, the throne room of the Red and the White Queen, a room of dreams, Alice’s lawn, a Jabberwock skeleton, and of course the White Rabbit’s house. In addition, visitors can relax on cushions in the cinema and see restored fragments of the original silent film “Alice in Wonderland”, which was directed in the UK by Cecil M. Hepworth in 1903. In the Gothic hall, visitors will see the first multi-illusion “100 Stories” illustrations for “Alice in Wonderland” by Sir John Tenniel, which are now recognized canonical pieces.
Visit this site for details and tickets. Runs through March 1st, 2016.
Make your travel plans, put in for personal days, block off your calendars! The Spring LCSNA meeting will be April 14 through 17, in the Baltimore/Washington area. We are being treated to a mini-conference by the member/collector/scholar families who live there: the Imholtzes, the Crandalls, and the Schaefer/Salinses. Highlights include events at the Library of Congress; the landmark Imholtz exhibition at the U of Maryland; hearing from Ellie Schaefer-Salins, Diane Waggoner, Michael Dirda, and George Walker; and an exhibition of Disneyana mounted by the Crandalls. We will also be welcomed to these members’ homes for social events each day. Don’t miss this opportunity for more of the kind of learning, inspiration, and camaraderie you enjoyed–or wish you had–in New York last fall! Members should look for your meeting notice to arrive via email/snail mail in early March, and nonmembers can check the LCSNA website to register then as well. Looking forward to being with the Carroll community soon!
Vote for Central Park’s most beloved statue!
This Valentine’s Day weekend, celebrate your love of Central Park’s sculptures!
Central Park Ice Festival
Saturday, February 13: 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Naumburg Bandshell (Mid-Park from 66th to 72nd Streets)
Witness ice-carving artists from Okamoto Studio use electric chain saws, chisels, and picks to transform more than 6,000 pounds of ice into a glistening replica of one of the Park’s most iconic statues. As night falls, revel among colorful lights as the Mall becomes a vibrant silent disco with live DJs, all to celebrate Central Park Conservancy’s preservation efforts.
But which of four iconic Central Park statues will be carved? Vote here. For Alice, of course! (Anyone can vote, whether or not you plan on attending the festival.)
Whilst we’re on the topic, pick up one or both of G. A. Mudge’s fine books on the topic: Alice in Central Park: Statues in Wonderland and/or Two Alice Statues in Central Park [website on the way; currently available at Barnes & Noble or via email from Fotobs Books at email@example.com].