Parallel Alices: Alice through the Looking-Glass of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Christopher Tyler, a visual psychophysicist and the creator of the autostereogram (“Magic Eye” pictures), is an erudite yet approachable and very well designed look at the pervasive mediaeval themes throughout the Alice books, focusing on the remarkable parallels between the travails of the fictional Alice and a historical Alice who lived in the time of the knights and castles, duchesses, and chess games that figure so largely in the narrative. The earlier Alice of the Vexin spent her life as a trading pawn of the monarchs of England and France, a lost soul on the checkerboard of twelfth-century territorial intrigues. A daughter of Louis VII of France, for much of her life she was held hostage by the Plantagenet court, successively held as a bargaining chip by Queen Eleanor and Kings Henry II, Richard the Lionheart, and John. To order or investigate further, visit parallelalices.com.
Are tablet computers revolutionizing the picture book? Ask me again in a hundred years. In the meantime, authors continue to explore the question by experimenting with the ever-willing, always-revolutionary Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. First to be mentioned on this site was Atomic Antelope’s ground-breaking “digital pop-up book”, then David Neal’s animation of classic illustrations. Now we have a third: an unabridged Alice illustrated with images from Renaissance art. The result sounds like it will be interesting:
To portray the colorful events and idiosyncratic characters of this book, Paletz gleans bits and pieces from Jan van Eyck, Joachim Patinir, Quentin Matsys, Hans Holbein, Sandro Botticelli, Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch and more, combining them into his signature visual collages which dazzle the eye. Alice is a book filled with riddles, puzzles, illogical delightfulness, and brainteasers.
… Most importantly, Paletz’s layered creation will inspire thought. Readers will fall into musings such as, “What is the historical significance of dressing Fish-Footmen in French Revolution military uniforms and the king as Henry VIII?” The use of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance art extends farther than the eye can see. Paletz pulls from historical events to shape each illustration with significance.
The book is the brainchild of Emmanuel Paletz, a creative consultant for the advertising industry and also the art director for the successful cookbook Art and Cook. Read more about him and about the storybook app on the project’s website. Emmanuel is seeking financial assistance to help bring his ebook project to completion. Donations of any amount can be made on the fundraising site IndieGoGo.
For many good reasons, Lewis Carroll’s classic is often chosen as a first text to translate into a new language or medium. Constructors of constructed languages and lovers of word-play have innate reasons to flock to Carroll’s text. Here’s a new “translation” of Alice in Wonderland into a language which is either pointlessly annoying, or an invaluable tool for strengthening your Scrabble skills. Every word of the classic 27,405 word text has been scrambled into an Alphagram (or, an aaaghlmpr, in Alphagrammish.) The apostles of this project claim that reading a “bkoo” is “not only fun, like solving a puzzle, but it also improves your ability to unscramble words and score higher in your favorite word games.”
The first page of “Aceil in addelnnorW,” from bkoo.org
Their blurb actually almost convinces that this could be an entertaining and mind-strengthening endeavor:
The thesis of this book is that Alphagram is a language (albeit more like Pig Latin than any natural language) that can be read, and whoever can read Alphagram can instantly spot anagrams. To learn Alphagram, we propose reading this bkoo of 27,405 words, including 2,576 distinct words. (To play this many words in Scrabble® would take a typical player thirty-five years at one game per week!) While reading the first chapter is challenging, afterwards you will find it reads like a classic translated into a familiar language. Several factors ease the learning curve: 1. Answers. Each page has answers on the back. 2. Context. It is much easier to find anagrams in context. For instance, “addelnnorW” is much easier to decipher after uncovering that it follows “Alice in….” 3. Repetition. Consider, for example, the word “thought,” which occurs 74 times in Alice in Wonderland. The first time you encounter “ghhottu,” it may take a while to unscramble (even with context), but later occurrences are easier as you naturally learn the language. oS ist abck, aelrx, adn ejnoy eht bkoo!
Aceil in addelnnorW: A Bkoo was translated by Cory Abbott sells for $12.95 on Amazon. Rachel Eley wrote to me, “Reading the examples on the website makes my brain feel like my hand feels when I use one of those grip strengtheners for climbers. It hurts but I can’t tell if that is because it good for me or bad for me.” I take back my earlier “pointlessly annoying” comment – Lewis Carroll probably would have loved this project. Meanwhile, we still wait for the first Pig Latin translation.
Now we have crossed into that magic time between Halloween and Christmas, it seems fitting to pay a visit to the latest in Alice-inspired fantasy fiction. Always a deep well (not to mention a dark and, at times, disturbing well), here are five books we haven’t mentioned before, all published within the last year.
Alice in Deadland by Mainak Dhar
The Alice in Deadland Trilogy, comprising Alice in Deadland, Through the Killing Glass and Off With Their Heads, is dark fantasy written by Mainak Dhar. Dhar’s first book was An Economic History of India, since then he has published books on brand management, ancient spaceships, superhuman librarians, and Taliban zombies. What next? A post-apocalyptic Alice in Wonderland, of course. Here’s the teaser:
Civilization as we know it ended more than fifteen years ago, leaving as it’s legacy barren wastelands called the Deadland and a new terror for the humans who survived- hordes of undead Biters.
Fifteen year-old Alice has spent her entire life in the Deadland, her education consisting of how best to use guns and knives in the ongoing war for survival against the Biters. One day, Alice spots a Biter disappearing into a hole in the ground and follows it, in search of fabled underground Biter bases.
RabbitHole by V. J. Waks
Rabbit Hole by V. J. Waks was published only last week. Waks is a native New Yorker and screenwriter. Her book is set in England and has a really scary dust-jacket; to know any more we will have to wait for the reviews. Any volunteers? Here’s the blurb:
In the wake of tragedy and loss, Caspian Hythe has returned to his family’s ancestral home in England. But home is not as it should be.
No longer a place of safety or of peace, home is now a place of horror and fear. For an ancient mystery has re-awakened – bloodthirsty and unimaginable – something is killing in the town of Guildford. And the trail of blood is just the beginning.
Gears of Wonderland by Jason G. Anderson
Gears of Wonderland by Jason G. Anderson, as the title suggests, is a blend of steampunk and fantasy. The book has been self-published (as has the Alice in Deadland series) but that isn’t necessarily a bad sign. One reviewer from Utah says: “For folks who may still be wary of self-published fiction, Gears of Wonderland is a good place to see that not all good books come from large publishing businesses.”
James Riggs lives a normal life with a mind-numbing job, an overbearing boss, and a demanding fiancée. Then he witnesses the murder of his best friend. Saved from the murderer by a strange man in a white suit, James is cast down a hole and into a world he always believed was a kid’s story. Wonderland. But things have changed since Alice’s visit. The Knave of Hearts has seized the Heart throne, conquered all of Wonderland with his steam-powered technological marvels, and rules the land with an iron fist. Aided by the Mad Hatter’s daughter, James journeys to discover why he has been brought to Wonderland and how the tattoo on his arm could be the key to Wonderland’s salvation—or its destruction.
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
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?
“Then She Fell”; photo by Adam Jason Photography
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.
Happy Friday to all.
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 interview with 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.)
[continue reading this interview...]
Not sure if this is a paradox or a parody but here you have it: a kindle case made from the original covers of an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (or Dracula). It is handmade in Hampshire, England using traditional bookbinding techniques and sold on Signals.com (“gifts that inform, enlighten and entertain”). Similar cases, handmade by a variety of artists, are for sale on Etsy.com.
Vintage Book Kindle Case – Signals.com