Happily, Lewis Carroll (aka Charles Lutwidge Dodgson in real life!) was a prolific letter writer. Even now, so many years after his death, some of his private correspondence can still surface–even if only long enough to pass from one private collection to another at public auction. But at least we obtain a new glimpse at the man in his own words.
On March 19th, Bonham’s is auctioning off a letter from November 9, 1891, in which Mr. Dodgson explains his dislike of being recognized as “Lewis Carroll” and even expresses, momentarily, the half-wish that he had never written any books because of all the attention their success brought:
“All that sort of publicity leads to strangers hearing of my real name in connection with the books, and to my being pointed out to, and stared at by, strangers, and treated as a ‘lion’. And I hate all that so intensely that sometimes I almost wish I had never written any books at all….”
Of course, those of us who have studied Mr. Dodgson in any depth know that he was more than willing to use the name Lewis Carroll to secure a social introduction when he wanted to! While he may have disliked being “lionized” there is no question that he went “lion hunting” himself with his camera and then his books on many occasions. So his statement here should be taken with more than a grain of salt. And we must also consider that he was writing to the woman who occasionally housed his child friends on visits to Eastbourne, where he went for summer vacations of peace and quiet. But the fact that he emphasizes the negative impact of the publicity on his private life does at least speak to the intensity with which he guarded his right to make a distinction between his private self and his literary persona–something well-known artists and figures struggle with to this day.
I am hopeful that this letter will pass into the collection of a library that will make it available to those who wish to see it for their own research, or if it passes again into private hands, that the new owner will be liberal in sharing this new letter with libraries for exhibits. Who knows what other Lewis Carroll correspondence still lies out there in private hands, waiting to be shared with the public?
To see the auction listing, click me.
To read an article about the auction, click me.
As you likely know, January 27th was the birth anniversary of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll. The UK publication The Guardian posted a quiz in honor of his birth.
To take their fun Alice Quiz, click me.
Audio fans! This just in:
“Life Elsewhere, a radio show from Tampa, FL, interviewed our current president, Mark Burstein, on Carroll’s birthday, January 27. The host, Norman B, was a bit obsessed with the usual canards about Carroll’s alleged fondness for young girls and drug use, which Mark defended to the best of his ability in a rather wide-ranging interview. Mark also begs your indulgence for any minor factual errors or anything else he uttered due to nervousness. The sound bites added afterwards are from the Jonathan Miller production. You can get a podcast or download an .mp3 at http://feeds.feedburner.com/wmnf/life_elsewhere (it’s the first half-hour).”
My thanks to artist and LCSNA member (and mimsy minion) Tania Ianovskaia for this description of a stunning recent production of Alice Through the Looking Glass in Moscow. We appreciate this information, Tania! Now, if only there could be a film of that production, or a tour of it in other countries. The imagery is simply wonderful.
“The premiere of the performance “Alisa v Zazerkalie” (Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll ) held in the Studio – Theater of Petr Fomenko took place in 2010. It became one of the best and most beloved performances of the theater. The Director of the show was of Macedonian heritage. Ivan Popovsky created an unforgettable dynamic, resulting in a merry and at the same time magic performance which lasted more than three hours. But nobody noticed how time flew as they watched – children and adults alike were delighted. The remarkable costumes were created by Serbian designer Angelina Atlagich and fairy tale set design was created by the group of talented visual artists called Artists Union, with the director among them . The lighting of the set , modern use of projections and dynamic music created the unforgettable atmosphere of the performance based on Carroll’s Looking Glass.
Some info about Petr Fomenko – Ever since the founding of his theatre in 1988, Petr Fomenko has been known for his experimental productions, which used to take place in a run-down old cinema house.
In 2008, Fomenko moved his troupe into fancy new digs overlooking the Moscow River – a marble and glass beauty built by architect Sergei Gnedovsky. Petr Fomenko passed away 9 August 2012 at the age of 80 .”
The selection of photos provided will give you an impression of what was going on stage:
In a recent post I noted the release of a new CD by alternative band Daniel Hales, and the frost heaves, called Contrariwise: Music From Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Daniel wants to let everyone know that this Friday, January 10th at 6:30pm in Massachusetts, they will be holding their official CD launch party.
You can read more about the event, including details and ticket pricing, on this Facebook page.
And you can watch a live performance compilation clip they made for “The Walrus and the Carpenter” right here (if the video doesn’t appear, try reloading this page in your browser):
Blogger Kirsten Reach shares and comments on the with form letter that author Margaret Atwood uses to decline all requests for promotional “blurbs” for book dust jackets. While neither Lewis Carroll nor Robert Southey is credited for the inspiration, Ms. Atwood’s response is clearly a clever riff on “Father William.” And Carroll’s beloved “Father William” was of course itself a riff on Southey’s original, decidedly moralistic and non-comical effort, “The Old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them.”
To read the post and Ms. Atwood’s pithy and poetical blurb refusal letter, click me.
According to The Oxford Times online, some enterprising Oxford College graduates have devised a new board game (how suitably retro!) called Dreaming Spires, in which players can create their own Oxford College–starting back in 1189 and moving forward in time from there. Characters include Oscar Wilde, JRR Tolkien, and of course, our own Lewis Carroll.
To read more about this new treat, including a downloadable try-before-you-buy version, click me.
One of our mimsy minions has shared a link to an interesting blog post that discusses the concept of Lewis Carroll as an Art Director–after all, he certainly oversaw all aspects of the publishing of the two Alice books. The post also provides links to three related Pinterest boards.
To read all about it, click me.
If you’re into all things Alice, and cooking as well, you might enjoy reading this write-up about an out-of-print but amusing Alice-themed cookbook.
In addition to eccentric recipes, the book is liberally “peppered” (sorry, I couldn’t resist) with quotes from two of Lewis Carroll’s works: Feeding the Mind, and Hints for Etiquette, or Dining Out Made Easy. Here’s a sample of the seasoned and sage (sorry, this is just too easy) advice:
“To use a fork with your soup, intimating at the same time to your hostess that you are reserving the spoon for beefsteaks, is a practice wholly exploded.”
We have just received this note from playwright and LCSNA member Daniel Singer:
“I’m pleased to announce that “A Perfect Likeness” will run Nov 7 – Dec 22 at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, with the same fine cast from the Actors Co-op production last summer. Details, when available, can be had from http://aperfectlikeness.com.”
The play has already had a couple of brief but very successful runs. If you are in the Pasadena, CA area, be sure to watch the play’s web site for performance times and tickets.