Over at the blog Booktryst: A Nest for Book Letters, Stephen J. Gertz has posted most of the text of Carroll’s pamphlet “Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter Writing,” with some commentary about its relevance 120 years later. The original pamphlet “was very popular, going into five editions 1890-1897.” Mr Gertz says:
The Net has been compromised; it’s lights out for email. Time to get out a piece of stationary, a pen, and write an old-fashioned letter. But how? What’s a 21st century citizen to do? Ask Mr. Dodgson!
We are big fans of Alicenations, one of several blogs of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil managed by Adriana Peliano. The site regularly features original and experimental music, video, and illustrations created by Adriana, together with her husband Paulo Beto, and inspired by the Alice books.
Here’s a recent creation which began life as a damaged Disney LP:
Many years ago I found a Disney Alice Record completely warped. I suddenly began to play with its stutter sounds, noises, voices and echoes, creating and recording a musical puzzle. The result is a funny game of words, a collage with dislocated meanings. My actual husband, Paulo Beto, boyfriend at that time, who is an amazing electronic music composer, recreated the material, remixing the jumping sounds.
The video below (a work in progress) makes use of some of the resulting music. Visit Alicenations for further description of the project, and the opportunity to download mp3s.
Isabelle Melançon, creator of the new web comic Namesake, which has just launched, promises that Lewis Carroll, Alice, and many familiar fairy tale characters figure prominently in the story. From the web site:
“Namesake is the story of Emma Crewe, a woman who discovers she can visit other worlds. She finds out that these are places she already knows – fantasy and fairy lands made famous through the spoken word, literature and cinema. Her power as a Namesake forces her to act as a protagonist in these familiar stories as she figures out how to get home. But as she travels, she discovers that those controlling her story have their own selfish goals in mind – and her fate is the key to everyone’s happy ending. Join Emma, her sister Elaine and their friends as they tumble down the rabbit hole. If you like, adventure, humor, stories of friendship, fairy tales and fantasy, this is the webcomic for you.”
Click the image on this post to visit the site. Since the comic will have new content three times a week, if you like what you see, you might want to subscribe to the site’s RSS feed to make sure you see the prologue and all subsequent pages.
A writer named Steve A Wiggins (“part-time Academic” & “failed priest” according to his bio) wonders on his blog Sects & Violence in the Ancient Worldabout screenwriter Linda Woolverton’s choice in naming the caterpillar the biblical name Absalom:
Supposing this to be nothing more than the reassignment of a fated biblical name associated with failed attempts at kingship, I simply let the reference pass. Until the chrysalis scene. There he was, Absalom hanging from a plant, just like David’s son swayed from a tree according to 2 Samuel. This mysterious scene in the battle of Ephraim Forest had captured my attention before when I wrote an article on Absalom, eventually published in the Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages.
We’re tempted to chalk this one up to a bad case of Engrish mistranslation from our friends across the Pacific. It’s easy to see how “Wonderland” could have been misread as “Waterland,” and the “Mad Hatter” may have been literally interpreted as “Angry Hat.”
In any case, how we are supposed to believe that they’re pouring a cup of tea underwater? How the hell are you going to drink it? Could they have made a more disturbing Alice in Wonderland cover?
I think all LCSNA members will know the answer to that last question.
When our cousins the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil held their first “Alice Day” in May this year, one of the main events was the live performance of a new soundtrack to the silent Alice in Wonderland (1903). The music was composed by Paulo Beto and performed by the band Frame Circus on keyboards, cello, percussion and Theremin.
Thank you to Adriana Peliano for sending us news of the event. Adriana tends Alicenations, the blog of the Lewis Carroll Society of Brazil. The above video featured in her Alice Day blog post, along with another soundtrack by Frame Circus, and a video of Leon Theremin playing his own instrument.
Thanks to Mahendra Singh for reminding us that 136 years ago today Lewis Carroll began his composition of The Hunting of the Snark, “and thus, in a semiotic and hypermetaphysical manner, began decomposing the non-existence of The Hunting of the Snark.” Read more at his excellent blog.
In celebration of Snark Day, here is the full text the first edition, published by Macmillan and Co. in 1876.
In lieu of a rendition of “Happy Birthday To You,” we suggest listening to Billy Connolly as the Bellman in the 1987 April Fool’s Day performance of Mike Batt’s Snark musical. When the musical was originally released as a concept album in 1986, the part of the Bellman was sung by Cliff Richard, possibly the only time Billy Connolly and Cliff Richard have proved substitutable in popular culture.
Finally, Mr. Singh (an LCSNA member and Knight Letter editor) is publishing his own beautiful Snark illustrations, coming out November 2nd, 2010, from Melville House, and it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon.com here. Only $10.08! (Don’t be fooled by Amazon’s “look inside,” it links to another edition.) Previews of many of Singh’s illustrations can be seen on his blog, and I’ve reprinted one below.
From Mahendra Singh's illustrations for Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark
Our post on the controversies and pseudo-controversies surrounding Carroll’s character generated some small discussion (“teach the controversy”, as the Kansas School Board might advocate). The folks at Contrariwise continued with a longer reaction. I quote Ms. Karoline Leachat length:
from Alice in the Shadows by Maria Bodmann
[...] we send our sincere thanks to the LCSNA bloggers for so generously giving us the space. We have also linked to you.
Tangentially though, in conjunction with something a commenter here said the other day, the reference to ‘certain questions’ has got Contrariwise thinking.
Suppose you give a false alibi to a man in order to get him acquitted of a crime you know he probably commited – if it later turns out he didn’t do it after all, does that make what you did right?
I don’t think it does, does it? And that’s the weird problem at the heart of Carrollianism right now, that I think needs to be looked at.
The LCSNA blog that features us is headed “Special Report: Was Lewis Carroll a gay Mormon and were the Alice books written by J.D. Salinger?”, referencing some of the many stupid things that have been said about Carroll over the years. It’s a joke, but in its way it makes exactly the point Contrariwise is trying to make. Because those things aren’t ‘myths’ are they? They’re just loony ideas no one has ever taken seriously. The point about the myths we are concerned with (his child-obsession, his avoidance of adult society, his passion for Alice Liddell), is that they were promulgated by serious Carroll scholars and believed by everyone until very recently. The notion of the man as a pedophile arose out of these myths as an inevitable, and very reasonable conclusion. It couldn’t, and can’t be just laughed off as ridiculous, and taking that line is just Apology again. No one will take you seriously if you sell the image that has been sold for so long and simply ask people to take your word that – honestly - he wasn’t what you are obviously painting him to have been.
There’s some more interesting comments below that post, and feel free to continue the discussion in the comments here. The shadowy illustration above is from Alice in the Shadows, Maria Bodmann’s Balinese-inspired shadow puppet play.
"Through the Looking-Glass #2" by Susan Stanford, from Dreaming Alice
Susan Sanford, an artist from Oakland, California, has a lovely book out called Dreaming Alice. Her humble biography: “The author has read many books and looked at many pictures, and now she has made her own little book of pictures.” To celebrate, Ms. Sanford has been putting up Alice images on her blog, artsparktheatre.blogspot.com, throughout March. (She’s made it through AAiW and is now starting TTLG.)
There is a fancy preview of Dreaming Alice up here at Blurb.com.
When Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland opens on Friday, March 5, the film will join many others that have sought to bring Lewis Carroll’s tales to the screen. “In terms of adapting [these books], it’s tricky,” says Andrew Sellon, President, Lewis Carroll Society of North America. “As written, they are not right for the medium.” Sellon explains that Carroll’s characters don’t encounter enough conflict to create the action necessary for a production on stage or in a film.
The visual imagery as well as a cast of quirky, colorful characters, makes Alice’s story an attractive takeoff point for artists. The basic story is a familiar one: a young girl is lost far away from home and must find her way back. Along the way, Alice, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, meets some interesting personalities, uses her wits to survive, and, in the process, learns a lot about herself and what she holds dear. There’s a timelessness to that story that continues to draw people in, generation after generation.”This child enters these adult realms and sees adults behaving badly, handles herself quite well, and gains some measure of control over her life,” says Andrew Sellon, President, the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. “At some time we’ve all felt like Alice. What is this place we’re in and why are people doing this and who is making the rules? You can apply that almost anywhere.”
Mark Richards, Chairman of the Lewis Carroll Society, agrees. “Although it is easy to see [Alice in Wonderland] as a Victorian story, the conversations and characters are timeless and we can easily see them as being of our own time.” Richards adds that people are captivated by “the way in which Alice observes her surroundings and feels emotions throughout the book. The sense of wonder is very strong in the books and is felt by the reader.”
It continues with Sellon’s observations about reading the book to children and the perennial drug question. (Continue Reading…)