The Blog of the LCSNA

Far-Flung Knight

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The Blog of the LCSNA

“…for I never was so small as this before, never!”

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.


Philip Glass Ballet “Alice” Now Online

“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 ballet was recorded and is now available for viewing until June 28, 2022. (You must subscribe to, minimum one month @ $13.) A trailer can be seen here.


Dalí Alice in Korean

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.

Best to order it from an online Korean bookstore unless a brick-and-mortar one is in your town. The trade edition is available from Books on Korea here; the deluxe (or both) can be purchased here.


Gerald Barry Opera Now on CD

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.


“Alice, who always took a great interest in questions …”

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)


Lipchenko Art Auction in Support of Ukraine

Canadian artist Oleg Lipchenko has very generously decided to auction off his Carrollian work, books and original art, in support of his native Ukraine. The auction is LIVE. You can see his presentation on YouTube or go to his Facebook page or Instagram or his site.


Les Aventures d’Alice (1970)

The 2-hour 1970 ORTF (Office de Radiodiffusion Télévision Française) production, described in The Annotated Alice 150 as a “burlesque with stunning visual and auditory overlay” has recently been found on YouTube by Adriana Peliano, to whom we give thanks. With English subtitles. Nine-year-old Marie-Véronique Maurin stars as Alice.

Adriana says she loves it, calling it “not impeccable but very creative,” and goes on to say that it was “directed by the provocateur Jean-Christophe Averty, a purveyor of French video art and director of experimental films such as Ubu Roi (1965) and Salvador Dali: A Soft Self-Portrait (1970). It features a moving collage of live action, animation, graphic design, and puppetry, creating psychedelic kaleidoscopes. The color palette is also original, clashing with iconic references. This Wonderland is more challenging and bewildering than most Alice movies, and at the same time the Alice character is less naïve than usual. Instead, she is often angry and moody, defying the disturbing characters and obstacles she encounters, including discussions with herself as a double. Averty’s Alice may not be wonderful—it has technical and aesthetic limitations that make it dated—but it is curious and stands out for its alicedelic daring creativity.”


Fall 2021 Meeting Now Viewable Online!

Yes, all our fabulous Fall 2021 speakers and presentations are now visible on our YouTube channel. Click here for the playlist.

(And if you still want more, the earlier Spring 2021 meeting playlist is here.)

Thanks to all involved and especially to Alan Tannenbaum for editing, organizing, and posting them.


Annie Leibovitz’s Wonderland

We all remember the legendary photographer’s fashion spread using Wonderland imagery for the December 2003 Vogue. Her new book, Wonderland, a collection of her fashion photography, will be released by Phaidon on November 17, and not only includes that spread, but the book “was built on it,” according to a review in the New York Times.

The above article pretty much says everything else we know thus far, and includes the quote, “The book also reawakened memories of [Liebovitz’s partner Susan] Sontag. Leibovitz reminisced about the time Sontag read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to her. ‘We had blankets under a tree’ she said. ‘It was such a beautiful day, and Susan had such a wonderful voice.’”

(An exhibition of these photos will be at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery from Nov. 6 to Dec. 23.)