Lauren Mechling, the author of the Dream Girl series (starring the irritatingly named Claire Voyante), has a short essay posted today about Carroll and Alice at the Wall Street Journal’s blog Speakeasy. In lieu of the high-profile Alice projects coming out, she looks at the phenomenon thru her modern Teen-Lit spectacles:
[…] Yet the weirdness for which the story is best remembered is beside the point. Trippy as the events may be, its sharpest element is the profound sense of melancholy overhanging them. “‘It was much pleasanter at home,’ thought poor Alice, ‘when one wasn’t always growing larger and smaller and being ordered about by mice and rabbits,’” wrote Carroll. Near the end of the tale, a hookah-smoking caterpillar asks her who she is. “‘I hardly know sir,’” she replies in good-mannered consternation. “At least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have changed several times since then.”
In addition to going it alone, Alice is stuck dealing with a body that is betraying her every step of the way. It’s a universal—and horrifically personal—condition. I defy you to find anyone who hasn’t watched on with alarm as her body grew pimples, love handles, or, with enough years, begun to curl over and shrink. Some fuss has been made over Burton’s choice to cast a 19-year-old actress rather than a child to play Alice in his film version, but the Alice experience is not constrained to the world of children. Quite the opposite.
And when Carroll writes, “‘For it might end,’ Alice said to herself, “in my going out altogether, like a candle. I wonder what I should be like then?’” we feel the author’s frustration and sadness layered over Alice’s own. We are all changelings. And, all the more excruciating, so are our loved ones—a fact that Carroll knew all too well.
We should ask them why a raven is like a writing desk.