Alice in the Department Store – German Wunderland “is a consumer hell.”

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.

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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.

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Interesting that a major store was totally compliant to stage a full-scale critique of consumer capitalism? Their English press released is here. We also found this thirteen second YouTube promo:

Evertype re-publishes the first German translation, Alice's Abenteuer im Wunderland

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass are, I understand, to be published for the first time in German. When I first learned this important fact, it surprised me for a moment, for I had thought that both these classics had by this time passed into all civilized tongues; but after some little reflection, I soon realized that if they had been popular in Germany, we should have known about it. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen when the Alice books are well known there, for we know what happened to Shakespeare. A cloud of commentators with gather, and a thousand solemn Teutons will sit down to write huge volumes of comment and criticism; they will contrast and compare the characters (there will even be a short chapter on Bill the Lizard), and will offer numerous conflicting interpretations of the jokes. After that, Freud and Jung and their followers will inevitably arrive upon the scene, and they will give us appalling volumes on Sexualtheorie of Alice in Wonderland, on the Assoziationsfähigkeit und Assoziationsstudien of Jabberwocky, on the inner meaning of the conflict between Tweedledum and Tweedledee from the psychoanalytische und psychopathologische points of view.

-J.B. Priestley, “A Note on Humpty Dumpty”, 1921.

While Priestley was prophetically correct about the imminent psycho-analysis of Wonderland (and, obviously, not just by Germans), he was incorrect about that being the first German translation published in the 1920s. Antonie Zimmermann’s translation of Alice’s Abenteuer im Wunderland was published in 1869, the first ever translation of Alice into another language. Michael Everson is taking the considerable risk (according to Priestley) exposing the classic tale to Germans once again by re-publishing the original Zimmermann. (His wonderful Evertype publishing house released nine Carroll titles in 2009, and is so far sparing no moments this year with some new fascinating versions, parodies, and rare translations – – more at alice-in-wonderland-books.com.) Aus dem Klappentext:

Lewis Carroll ist ein Pseudonym. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson war der eigentliche Name des Autors; er war Dozent für Mathematik am Christ Church College in Oxford. Dodgson begann die Geschichte am 4. Juli 1862 bei einer Ruderpartie auf der Themse in Oxford, zusammen mit Pfarrer Robinson Duckworth, mit Alice Liddell (zehn Jahre) – der Tochter des Dekans der Christ Church –, und mit ihren beiden Schwestern Lorina (dreizehn Jahre) und Edith (acht Jahre). Wie man dem Gedicht am Anfang des Buches entnehmen kann, baten die drei Mädchen Dodgson um eine Geschichte und, zunächst widerwillig, begann er, ihnen die erste Version dieser Geschichte zu erzählen. Es gibt im Text des Buches, das schließlich im Jahre 1865 veröffentlicht wurde, viele versteckte Bezüge zu den fünf Personen.