A lost mural of Alice in Wonderland and the archaeologist determined to bring it to light were the subjects of an interesting tale told by San Diego public radio station, KPBS, yesterday.
Seth Mallios, head of the anthropology department at SDSU, had been hunting down murals, once common all over campus, when he heard about the Alice mural from Evelyn Kooperman, a retired librarian.
When she was a little girl in the 1950s, her mother used to take her to see two murals tucked away in Hardy Tower. One featured the character of Odysseus. The other, was the “Alice in Wonderland” mural. “I just thought they were wonderful,” says Kooperman. “They were big and bright and colorful. And I just loved them and every year I would say to my mother, ‘I want to go see Alice! I want to go see Alice!’”
Read about Mallios’s discovery of the mural, and of the artist who painted it, on the KPBS website. You can also see an old photograph of the mural and listen to the original radio broadcast.
The expedition ship Discovery in the Antarctic bearing the British National Antarctic Expedition, 1901–04, and two book by Lewis Carroll
We like to celebrate the fact that the Alice books have been enjoyed all over the world, but did you know that includes Antarctica? Last week, in a story reported by the UK national paper the Telegraph, we learned the interesting and quite touching fact that “Britain’s toughest explorers, who took part in Scott’s gruelling three-year journey to discover the Antarctic, whiled away the freezing dark nights by reading children’s story Alice in Wonderland…” (Read the story in full here.)
Well-travelled Alice books, Bonham’s Auction 19952, Lot 63
The books formed part of the library on board the Discovery, the ship that carried Captain Scott’s successful expedition to the Antarctic regions between 1901 and 1904. These travel-stained copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which once sat among more likely-sounding titles such as Sir Walter Raleigh’s Discovery of Guiana and Marco Polo’s Voyages and Travels, are to be auctioned by Bonham’s in their Polar II Sale, December 4, with an estimated price of $3,200 – $6,400.
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
In a recent post on Alice Nations, the blog of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil, Peliano described the book’s creation:
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?
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?
Perhaps unique in the annals of Alice publishing, syndicated columnist Jon Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle is publishing the text of Wonderland one sentence at a time at the end of his column, beginning on July 25 in one titled “Turning on to rainbows, and tuning out.” He had just finished publishing King Lear this same way. Inspiration perhaps came from a similar stunt in the New Yorker, whose editor, Gardner Botsford, got bored with seeing the same capsule review for The Fantastics, which ran for 42 years. In its place, beginning on November 23, 1968, with the copyright—or, one could argue, December 21 with the opening line—it began serializing the first chapter of Ulysses, ending in November of 1971.
The Isis from Godstow Lock
Amid all the fireworks, flag-waving, and hot dog eating, another anniversary celebration is taking place today. 150 years ago this very afternoon, Lewis Carroll first extemporized the story of Alice’s adventures to three little girls in a rowing boat. Could we argue this event had cultural implications on a par with the Declaration of Independence itself? I think we could.
In celebration of the milestone, Oxford’s annual Alice’s Day, coordinated by the Oxford Story Museum, will be bigger than ever before and for the first time will include a raucous caucus race in Christ Church Meadow. Tish Francis, co-director of the museum, spoke about the event in Oxford Mail: “It is going to be wonderful, holding the race on a field overlooked by the windows of Christ Church, where Alice Liddell would have sat and looked out. We have got singers, dancers, circus performers. In the words of the Dodo, the best way to explain it is just to do it.” More on Alice’s Day and the Caucus Race can be read in C. M. Rubin’s article for the Huffington Post: Alice – – Join in the Race!
Ted Gioia, author and blogger, has commemorated the occasion in the post How Alice Got Into Wonderland in which he suggests that Carroll’s story may never have been meant just for children and asks “did a little-known Anglican
minister play a bigger role than the real-life Alice in the creation of this classic work?”
While Fourth of July celebrations may be taking center stage here in America, we hope that lovers of the Alice books will find their own ways to mark the day. (If you happen to be in Vallejo, California you could tip your hat to the Hatter as he drives by in their Fourth of July parade.) Here are some suggestions:
- Take any opportunity to quote Alice. For example, if asked whether you like the potato salad, you could answer: “Thank you, it’s a very interesting dance to watch and I do so like that curious song about the whiting!”
- Greet all newcomers to your local fireworks display with a languid “Who are you?” Refuse to be satisfied with their answer, whatever it is.
- If you should happen to fall asleep at your family reunion, upon waking tell everybody all about your curious dream in which you chased a rabbit down a rabbit-hole, grew, shrunk, went for a swim, had a drink, kicked a lizard, et cetera, and ending up signing the Declaration of Independence.
If you have any more ideas, or news of other celebrations that are taking place, please tell us about them in the comments below.
Here’s to that golden afternoon!
All guests at the worldwide Langham chain of luxury hotels this year find in their rooms a “keep me” copy of Wonderland, the Penguin edition with a new pink cover bearing the Langham’s imprint, the front cover of which depicts a pretty blonde in her twenties wearing a blue dress having tea, whilst a white rabbit hops about at her feet.
Alice's Adventures courtesy of Langham Hotels
The note on the back explains that this is in celebration of the fact that The Langham, London, opened its doors in 1865 (the year of Wonderland‘s publication) as Europe’s first “Grand Hotel,” and invites us to embark on our “own journey of discovery and indulgence” whilst we stay with them.
"The Dodo & Given", by G. Edwards (1759)
Paleontologists and artists alike may be interested to hear of a new project to further our understanding of the unfortunate Raphus cucullatus, otherwise known as the dodo. Fewer that 300 years ago the bird was strutting around Mauritius, yet today only two complete skeletons are known to science. Researchers at the Massachusetts College of the Holy Cross are hoping to extend the influence of one of those skeletons by giving it new life online.
Cast of mummified dodo head (looking thoughtful) from Aves 3D
The skeleton has been scanned in 3D, digitized, and uploaded to a public website funded by the National Science Foundation. Using a Java plugin, users can manipulate 3D images of the individual bones, as well as a mummified head (left).
We first read about the story in Digging up the Dodo, an article on IOLscitech. The dodo images are found on Aves 3D. The Aves 3D database contains images of many bird species; it’s primary aim is “to allow for the rapid global dissemination of three-dimensional digital data on common as well as rare and potentially fragile species, in a format ready for a variety of quantitative and qualitative analyses, including geometric morphometric analysis and finite element analysis.”
After conducting our own research using the data, we can also report that by careful rotation of the mummified head image it is possible to produce quite convincing facial expressions including “solemn,” “offended,” and “thoughtful.” Each expression requires tiny adjustments to the image, but of course, as the most famous dodo of all once advised, “the best way to explain it is to do it.”
Benedict Cumberbatch, star of BBC's Sherlock
A bandersnatch was in the news today, but it was widely assumed to be a typo. The actor who plays the titular role in BBC One’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch, had his already-Carrollian-sounding name apparently spectacularly autocorrected by the Washington Post into “Bandersnatch Cummerbund.” Thanks to @Alex_Ogle on Twitter for the picture before. Anyone hoping for a sober correction – something along the lines of “The Washington Post deeply regrets mistakenly printing the name of the actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Bandersnatch Cummerbund blah blah blah” – will be disappointed. The Post responded that it was not a typographical error, and issued the following statement:
UPDATE: It has come to our attention that there is raging debate, in re whether we intentionally referred to Benedict Cumberbatch as Bandersnatch Cummerbund in The TV Column and blog.
Bandersnatch concept art for the 2010 Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland, by Jason Seiler and Bobby Chiu ©Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Apparently it all started when Poynter posted an item early Tuesday afternoon about the “typo.”
MSNBC.com’s Alex Johnson, a gentleman and a scholar (and former Post staffer), leapt to our defense, noting I correctly identified Cumberbatch on first reference in the column item, and explaining that we are “a titan of snark” who “gets away with that kind of stuff all the time.”
Johnson was perhaps recalling the time, back in 2009, when Politico wrote about the sorry state of The Washington Post’s copy editing, citing something we had written about “American Idol” in which host Ryan Seacrest was called “Seabiscuit” – until some people explained to the author in the comments section, that we had used the nickname for Seacrest during many years of “American Idol” recapping. (The report vanished from the Web site).
But Poynter’s Craig Silverman, a skeptic, bet Johnson a beer on it, asking Johnson, like he meant it to sting, did he think the Post’s copy desk would let that through without any kind of wink to readers.
Silverman owes Johnson a beer.
But, we would like to give credit where credit is due. The nickname “Bandersnatch Cummerbund” originated with one of the serious students of television who join me each Friday to chat about all things TV. And that person would no doubt want to give credit to Lewis Carroll, who first wrote about the “frumious Bandersnatch,” in “Jabberwocky,” in the late 1800’s. We loved it then, we love it now. Oh — and, wink wink!
Call to artists to represent the Tulgey Wood monster wearing a tuxedo sash.
We’ve already exhausted the ‘March Hare Mad-Hatter-ness’ pun on this blog a few years ago, but Lewis Carroll is making basketball news during the college playoffs! His contributions to bracketology were discussed at length at the Wall Street Journal in two articles:
In addition to writing “Alice in Wonderland,” Lewis Carroll was a mathematician who was offended by blind draws in tennis tournaments. So Carroll devised a method to ensure that the most skilled players would survive to the latest rounds.
So in the spirit of adventure, The Wall Street Journal put Carroll’s radical format to the ultimate test: this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament. If we assigned the 64-team field randomly, then played out the tournament based on the NCAA selection committee’s overall ranking for each team, what would happen? Would the teams that got unlucky draws or suffered early upsets still make it through to the late rounds? And would there be enough surprises to keep people entertained? [continue reading]
-Rachel Bachman, from “Introducing the Lewis Carroll Method,” The Count, Wall Street Journal, 22 March 2012.
The excellent illustration for the WSJ article by Scott Brundage
Then Bachman expanded the idea into a printed WSJ article:
When The Wall Street Journal undertook a search to figure out who invented the concept of the tournament bracket, nobody had any idea where the search might lead. It’s fair to say nobody imagined it would bring us to the same neighborhood inhabited by Alice, the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter.
After our March 17 story, in which we speculated that an 1878 pairings list from Wimbledon was among the first brackets used in sports, we received a number of letters offering fresh leads. The most intriguing one came from a longtime reader, Joel Chinkes, who lives in Luna County, N.M.
Chinkes had in his possession a version of an 1883 monograph written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a 19th-century English mathematician better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll. Carroll, as you may recall, is the author of Alice in Wonderland. Chinkes thought we should have a look at the monograph.
The monograph, “Lawn Tennis Tournaments, The True Method of Assigning Prizes with a Proof of the Fallacy of the Present Method,” is just about what it seems to be: a proposal for a better way to conduct a sports tournament. Let’s get one thing straight: Carroll didn’t invent the bracket. In writing this nine-page plan, his only goal was to make it better. [continue reading…]
-Rachel Bachman, from “A Bracket Through the Looking Glass,” Wall Street Journal, 23 March 2012.
In quasi-unrelated sports news, did you know the team name for Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Indiana, is the Lincoln Alices? Apparently they’ve been called that for so long that no one remembers why. (If anyone actually does know why, please tell us in the comments.) Anyway, congratulations on being the 2012 Sectional Champions!