This site, Nights in the Past, bills itself as “the online guide to historic hotels and accommodation in the UK, Europe and USA.” It lists two establishments claiming associations with our Mr. Dodgson: The Old Deanery in Ripon, Yorkshire, and The Ravensworth Arms in Lamesley. The first claim is slight (Mr. Dodgon’s father was appointed Canon of Ripon Cathedral at one point, before moving up again shortly thereafter to Archdeacon at Richmond). As to the Ravensworth Arms, it’s true that Alice Liddell’s father was descended from the Barony of Ravensworth, but there the connections with Mr. Dodgson begin and end as far as we know. The latter claim, judging by the advertising copy on the Ravensworth Arms’ web site, is based entirely on anonymous “suggestions” that Mr. Dodgson stayed there and even wrote some of a certain book there. We can only suggest that such claims might well be considered nonsense (and not of the good kind). Someone should make a list of all the different places claiming that Mr. Dodgson “might have written” some or all of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on their premises. Impenetrability!
Back in November we told you about Rob Stone, the game designer who rediscovered a lost Alice in Wonderland card game and published the rules for all to read online. Rob made that discovery while researching his own Alice-inspired game. His game, called “Alice: Adventures in Wonderland Board Game,” is now finished and he is raising funds to launch it using a Kickstarter campaign.
Rob’s game features two decks of cards—a player character deck and a story deck—and a story board, along which players move through the chapters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Rob explains:
It was important to us not to add anything to the story; to remain faithful to the original work so that fans as well as educators would find in this game, a pathway to experiencing the characters, places and events in Wonderland in a way we call going beyond the book. It doesn’t replace the book or add to it, rather it transports the story into the three-dimensional space of a tabletop board game.
On the Kickstarter campaign page you can read a fuller description of the the game-to-be, and, if you like the sound of it, you can make a donation to help bring it to life.
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?
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.
If you are looking for ideas for an Alice-themed party the internet is full of suggestions. When it comes to comprehensiveness though one website in particular has come to our attention. Party Ideas by A Pro is run by an Englishman called Matt James – professional party planner to the likes of Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kevin Spacey. I’m not sure if any of them have ever requested an Alice-themed bash, but if they did it seems Matt would have plenty of advice.
His Alice in Wonderland party ideas starts with the important question of which Alice will be your inspiration (Tenniel, Disney, Tim Burton…) and goes on to provide an extensive list of ideas for invitations, decorations, food, costumes, and games. Every suggestion I have ever seen elsewhere is there, plus several that are new to me. His idea for creating a teeny tiny doorway through which your guests must crawl to enter the party particularly appealed to me for some reason. . .
Before you get too worried about what else you might have missed in your studies of the great man, check out some of the other unexpected tales on the website, all purportedly the work of Dr. D. I. Kniebocker (Staten Island’s self-described “greatest historian”). The website has been created by questioning historian Ed Weiss, who also coordinated related installations and readings around Staten Island last year. And remember, as Voltaire is supposed to have said, “History can be well written only in a free country.”
[Department of Portmanteaus] Today we give an honorable mention to the Brooklyn-based design studio Snarkitecture, recently featured in the Home & Garden section of the New York Times online. The studio, headed by Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham, creates sculptures and installations intended to unsettle: “Searching for sites within architecture with the possibility for confusion or misuse, Snarkitecture aims to make architecture perform the unexpected.” An exhibition of “funiture” — furniture that counts furnishing least among its aspirations, is currently on display at the Volume Gallery in Chicago.
Before there was Instagram, people used chemical emulsifying processes to make their photographs look cool. An American artist named Mabel Odessey will have a site-specific installation at France’s Château de Lacaze from May 6 thru 30th, using the distinctly retro technique of pinhole photography. She described the show to us in an e-mail:
The photographs are made from marionettes made in the 1940s based on Tenniel illustrations. The installation will use different parts of the château to consider different aspects of the the Alice books. Visitors will descend (like Alice through the rabbit hole) into a cave like area where the photographs will pose questions of identity and perception. Visitors will then climb up to the mezzanine areas and consider the philosophical, and nonsense aspects of the books, another passageway will lead to the domain of the Queen of hearts and Carroll’s satirical look at Victorian society.
Lacaze is in the Southeast Tarn department of France. Mabel Odessey has many more galleries of her pinhole photography at her website www.mabelodessey.com. An article by Odessey and pictures from the installation will be featured in the Spring 2012 Knight Letter number 88, available to LCSNA members.
In Russia, a forty-year-old professional photographer named Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev has also been creating beautiful old-fashion images of Alice. His series called Alice in Wonderland can be seen at his website here. There’s also a nice YouTube montage:
Germany’s MS Schrittmacher just premiered an interesting “Alice im Wunderland,” which ran from March 28 thru April 7. The show was actually staged at Berlin’s Hermannplatz, a Karstadt department store. DerekScally of the Irish Times reviewed it in English, and he gives us a glimpse into what went down:
MS MS Schrittmacher's Alice im Wunderland, at Berlin's Hermannplatz
Here, Lewis Carroll’s 19th-century favourite has been given a postmodern, 21st-century makeover.
Alice is now a frazzled 40-something with lanky blonde-brown hair and her Wonderland is a consumer hell: Dante’s Inferno meets Are You Being Served?.
For the next 90 minutes, a small audience follows her through the department store during opening hours.
Regular customers stare, open-mouthed, at this unannounced undermining of capitalism and consumerism before their eyes – and this in one of Berlin’s largest shopping temples, with the full blessing of the Karstadt management.
Upstairs in the women’s department, the smoking Caterpillar is now a patronising sales assistant. Her advice to Alice, who is increasingly confused about who she is: in this consumer world your identity is your clothes size, you are the brand you buy.
As the scene plays out, a Karstadt customer, trapped in the adjacent changing room, tries to hide behind the curtain her mortification at becoming an unwitting extra in this capitalist critique.
Star-studded photo from the White House 2009 Halloween Party
Mad Tea Parties and politics are in the news again, but this time thrown by the Democrats. President Obama’s 2009 Alice in Wonderland-themed “star-studded” Halloween party is central stage in a mini-scandal, coming to light because of details in a new book called “The Obamas” by Jodi Kantor of the New York Times. Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing criticizers of the President are claiming the party was secret and extravagant. The White House has responded that the party was for military families and not at all secret. From the Huffington Post article “Limbaugh: Media Helping Obamas Cover Up Secrets“:
“The Obamas,” by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor, has already prompted a fierce response from the White House to its stories of infighting between Michelle Obama and her husband’s staff. But the media has latched onto another story in the book. Kantor alleges that the White House deliberately downplayed a lavish, Tim Burton-designed Halloween party held in 2009 so as not to appear out of touch with economically struggling voters.
Though they did not mention the details of the party in official briefings at the time, the White House has pushed back on this story as well, saying that the news of the party was mentioned in a Tennessee paper and on a Johnny Depp fan website.
Kantor writes (via the NY Post) that Burton made up the room “in his signature creepy-comic style… He had turned the room into the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with a long table set with antique-looking linens, enormous stuffed animals in chairs, and tiered serving plates with treats like bone-shaped meringue cookies… Fruit punch was served in blood vials at the bar. Burton’s own Mad Hatter, the actor Johnny Depp, presided over the scene in full costume, standing up on a table to welcome everyone in character.”
George Lucas, the book says, sent over the original Chewbacca costume for the occasion. Kantor also writes that the President and First Lady’s daughters, Malia and Sasha, and their friends were entertained with a magic show in the East Room.
Local children and military families were also invited.