Fedde Benedictus’s site “The Tricycle Down the Rabbit Hole” contains musings on various topics from the perspective of a philosopher of physics. His “Numbers in Wonderland” thread has five episodes to date that are based on Alice in Wonderland and are thought-provoking, understandable, and rather droll as well. Fedde teaches at Amsterdam University College and is the managing editor of a theoretical physics journal, Foundations of Physics.
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This month (July 5-29), the Biblioteca Pública Estadual de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte is presenting a splendid exhibition, the ninth such celebrating Carrollsday (July 4, of course). Brazil’s Carrollsday was created in 2010 by Beatriz (“Bia”) Mom, who is also the curator of this exhibition. This year’s iteration, which is in partnership with Adriana Peliano and the Sociedade Lewis Carroll do Brasil, celebrates Looking-Glass150.
The exhibit contains collages, assemblages, and installations. Adriana selected the books on display and designed an enormous double-chessboard whose white squares each show a different artist’s interpretation of the moment where Alice goes through the looking-glass. In all, there are 100 images from 70 illustrators from all over the globe.
If you can’t get to Belo Horizonte (it’s 280 miles due north of Rio de Janeiro) this month, there are a number of photographs you can look at on Facebook (which has close to 40); Instagram (@carrollsday); and the above link to the LCSBrazil has some as well.
A new edition of La aventuroj de Alico en Mirlando (Wonderland in Esperanto) has been published by the Esperanto-Asocio de Britio. Illuminated by the fantastic Chris Riddell illustrations, the text is based on Donald Broadribb’s 1996 translation and significantly revised by Edmund Grimley Evans. You can get it from their website. Or a bookstore (ISBN: 978-0-902756-48-9).
Sing 2, the excellent sequel to the very popular animated musical Sing, opens with a shot of Meera, the teenage elephant (Tori Kelly), who runs through a forest, trips and falls down a hole, goes through a tiny door, and finds herself in a Wonderland musical number performed to Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Later in the film, Ash (Scarlett Johannsson) sings “Heads Will Roll,” and one of the backstage carpenters is, of course, a walrus.
Laetitia Miéral is a paper magician living in Saint-Etienne, France, whose site Wonders on Paper (Merveilles en Papier) contains several Alice projects. Check out her Alice in Wonderland collection and her stunning Alice’s Dollhouse.
The goal of the Tiny Alice Project was to produce the smallest ever reproduction of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with letters measuring in nanometers. And they succeeded!
The project was an unlikely collaboration between a Welsh scientist, Dr. Daryl Beggs, and a Welsh fantasy-literature expert, Dr. Dimitra Fimi. Using electron-beam lithography, they printed the book on crystalline silicon using lettering of pure gold. With letters just 2 microns high, each page measures 85 microns by 60 microns. (A micron, or micrometer, is one millionth of a meter, or one thousandth of a millimeter.)
Why Alice? For one thing, Victorian culture was obsessed with the minuscule. A diary entry for 1852 shows Carroll fascinated with Uncle Skeffington’s microscope, and we are all aware of Alice’s changes in size. In fact, Carroll’s diary entry for that famous July 4th, 1862, expedition says, “Duckworth and I made an expedition up the river to Godstow with the three Liddells: we had tea on the bank there, and did not reach Christ Church again till quarter past eight, when we took them to my rooms to see my collection of microphotographs, and restored them to the Deanery just before nine.”
Microphotographs, invented by John Benjamin Dancer, were the natural offspring of marrying the two leading Victorian technologies: microscopy and photography. For one shilling, one could purchase a 3″×1″ glass slide with what looked like a tiny dot on it, but which when looked through a microscope would be revealed to be portrait of a famous scientist or writer, a landscape, or the entire Lord’s Prayer.
Carroll’s own microscope is now in the Houghton Collection at the Pierpont Morgan Library. Another gadget he owned was a geographer’s pen, which he used to write “miniature” or “fairy” letters, about the size of a postage stamp and usually addressed to children, using a magnifying glass.
Knight Letter readers will recall Williard Wigan of Birmingham, UK, whose Wonderland microsculpture tableau of the Tea Party was so small that it can fit in the eye of a needle (and he once inhaled its heroine by mistake; KL 79:46). At last, the attendees have something to read.
“The French company Opéra national du Rhin Ballet premiered Alice Feb. 11–13, 2022, in Mulhouse, and Feb. 18–19 in Strasbourg. ‘With a new score by Philip Glass, a figurehead of American minimalism, choreographers Amir Hosseinpour and Jonathan Lunn reimagine and reinvent Carroll’s fantastical world. Freed from the original narrative, the dancers of the OnR Ballet play a new gallery of contemporary creatures and characters, joined by actor Sunnyi Melles.’” – Knight Letter 107, p. 73
The publisher Moonye has released the Princeton University Press version of Alice with the Dalí illustrations (이상한 나라의 앨리스: 살바도르 달리 에디션) in a translation into Korean by Soon-yung Lee (이순영). There are two editions: a trade (ISBN 978-89-310-2260-5, shown on the right) and a deluxe (예스 특별판, ISBN 978-89-310-2261-2, on the left). The introduction by Mark Burstein (마크 번스타인) and Professor Thomas Banchof (교수 토머스 밴초프) has been retained.
Gerald Barry’s hour-long surreal opera Alice’s Adventures under Ground was composed in 2016. The world premiere concert performance took place in LA and a week later in London (KL 98:39). In 2020, a fully staged production took place at the The Barbican Centre, a co-production of the Irish National Opera and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden (KL 104:54), which is viewable on YouTube.
The opera is actually a blend of Wonderland and Looking-Glass, described by Joe Cadagin in Opera News (April 2022) as “… the most curious yet … zipping along at the pace of a cartoon on fast-forward … bizarrely constructed from vocal warmups and pedagogical exercises … gymnastics … a manic collage of Victorian bric-a-brac … excessive, idiotic, immature, and in bad taste—but brilliantly so!” He calls it “an ideal musical match for Carroll” (Joe was the Knight Letter 98 reviewer as well).
Now Signum Classics has released the performance on CD.
In 2016, data visualizer Nicholas Rougeux extracted everything but the punctuation in Wonderland and made a fine poster thereof. Now Clive Thompson has created similar software that extracts only the questions from a literary work (or anything else). Cut’n’paste in a digital copy of Wonderland (or any other book) into his tool and see what results! Wonderland contains 210 questions, from “Yet what can one poor voice avail / Against three tongues together?” to “Who cares for you?”
Of literary or scholastic use? Questionable. (heh)