The Blog of the LCSNA

Far-Flung Knight

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The Blog of the LCSNA

The First Full-Color Alice (A Dutch Translation)

Our sister society in the Netherlands, the Lewis Carroll Genootschap, will be producing a facsimile of the first Dutch Alice, Lize’s Avonturen in het Wonderland, in 300 numbered copies, bound with dust jacket (72 pages), with essays in English and Dutch. It can be ordered here (€40 +€20 postage to the U.S.), but won’t be mailed until after the launch on October 29 (below). Reserve your copy today!

The book came out in 1875 in a truly stunning edition printed with chromolithography (up to a dozen layers of color printing, impossible to duplicate today). It was seriously abridged (20 pages), but we celebrate this facsimile, as there are only a very few known complete copies in the world. This was, after all, the very first Alice published in full color anywhere!

The launch will be two-fold: as part of the Genootschap’s fifth symposium (in Dutch) on October 29, and a virtual English-language book launch on November 17 at 7 PM UK time (11 am US West Coast, 2 pm East Coast).


The Wisdom of Solomon

Peter J. Solomon, that is, whose exhibit “Animals Are Us: Anthropomorphism in Children’s Literature” celebrates his recent, generous donation of material from the Peter and Susan Solomon Collection of Children’s Literature to the newly renovated Houghton Library at Harvard and runs September 1, 2021–January 7, 2022.

As he puts it in his introduction, “As I became more adventuresome, I acquired a copy of the virtually unobtainable 1865 ‘suppressed’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and a first edition of Through the Looking Glass with thirty-eight bound-in original drawings by John Tenniel, as well as a number of other books, letters, and drawings by Carroll and Tenniel. The exhibit includes Carroll’s nine ink drawings—the copies of Tenniel’s illustrations he created for Alice Liddell so she could see them prior to the book’s publication. I even bought the pocket watch owned by Oxford don Charles Dodgson.”

Of course, those items represent a very small fraction of the exhibit, the superb catalog of which is available to read here or download as a .pdf. Or take a virtual-reality tour of the exhibit here.


Matrix 4: We’ll take the red pill

Of course we all remember Morpheus saying, “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes” from the first Matrix classic film. Well, if you watch the trailer for the latest sequel (Matrix Resurrections, coming in December), many more Carrollian references abound, at least according to this Vanity Fair post (which IMHO stretches things a bit, although some of the references—going through the mirror, the song “White Rabbit,” a glimpse of a copy of Wonderland/Looking-Glass, etc.—cannot be denied). But there’s more!

Many of you knew my beloved dad, Sandor, a major Carroll collector, medical scholar, and president emeritus of our Society. For the last 17 years of his life he lived in a lovely dwelling on Vallejo St. in San Francisco. The movie trailer (and perhaps the movie?) opens on a shot of this very house!!!! Where else would a movie about the Wonderland of dueling realities take place?

A few seconds later, the psychiatrist (Neal Patrick Harris) in profile, looks out our living room window. When they filmed at and around the house for five days in February, 2020, we had no idea if we’d end up on the cutting-room floor, much less that it would be so prominent! (Not to mention that Grace Slick, who sings the song, was a patient of Dad’s during the time in which the song was recorded. And my stepmother, Beth, still lives in the house.)

Cue Twilight Zone music. Take your pill.


Through the Philip-Glass

The French company Opéra national du Rhin Ballet will be presenting Alice from 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.” More info here.

(As we speak, their blurb contains the unfortunate phrase “Lewis Carroll dreamt up a strange and wonderful world where … silkworms are opium addicts …” and I have written to them about it.)


Take Care of the Pence …

A £5 coin marking the sesquicenTenniel of Through The Looking-Glass has been launched by the Royal Mint to complement one depicting a Wonderland scene released in July. You can get them individually (£13 for monochrome; £20 for colored; £65 for silver; £650 for ¼ oz. gold; £2,440 for 1 oz. gold ) or as a set.

And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine …


An Undebatable Success

Over 100 attendees from twelve countries watched in rapt attention on July 24 as four Carrollian titans amicably argued over which is the more scholastically significant, culturally compelling, engrossingly eloquent, all-around better book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass? Dr. Jan Susina and Charlie Lovett redoubtably represented Team Wonderland, while Ellie Luchinsky and Brian Sibley formidably fought for Team Looking-Glass.

The debate caused quite a stir on social media, with impassioned fans on both sides making their allegiance clear with #teamaaiw and #teamttlg hashtags. There was also more than a little trash-talking direct from a debater or two on Twitter. While fun was had by all — the debaters, the audience, and moderator Heather Simmons — make no mistake, The Great Debate was far from a frivolous event. All four renowned scholars spoke eloquently and easily of their love for both books and the author who created them. (The “lightning round” in particular sparked fascinating, thought-provoking discussions.) Attendees submitted debate questions and also got to vote for their favorite tome before and after the debate, making it a truly interactive affair. As for who won, you’ll have to watch to find out! The debate is now available on the LCSNA YouTube channel. Be sure to hit that subscribe button while you’re there!


Manga! Manga!

The popularity of manga—graphic novels, comics, and cartoons from Japan—is undeniable, and it should come as no surprise that there have been several adaptations of Wonderland and Looking-Glass and many dozens of series that allude to the Alice characters. Close to one hundred of them are listed here!

(Spoiler alert: Shinichi Kinoshita of the LCSJapan and Dr. Amanda Kennell are working on a substantive article about Alice manga that will appear in a forthcoming Knight Letter.)

In 2019, the British Museum in London hosted “Manga マンガ,” the biggest exhibition on manga outside of Japan to date. Its excellent catalog features our W. Rabbit on its back cover, and the first eight pages of Chapter 1 are devoted to Wonderland adaptations.


Keys to It All!

PimpMyKeyboard’s “UnAlice” is a set of “dye-sublimated keycaps inspired by Alice in Wonderland. The spindly Victorian type is complemented nicely by illustrated function and meta keys featuring the White Rabbit, the Hookah-Smoking Caterpillar, and other usual suspects.” Individual keycaps are also for sale; perhaps you’d like to put the White Rabbit falling down a hole over your “Esc” key.


News from Toontown!

Two posts by Jim Korkis in the Cartoon Research blog might be of historical interest: “The Disney ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Never Made” and “Aldous Huxley’s Version of the Disney ‘Alice’.”

But if your taste is more towards animations that actually were made (and within the last few months at that!), try Wonder Land, a film by Rico Schwartzberg, illustrated by Christopher Carroll.


Looking-Glass Sesquicentenary Conference (online)

This conference, organized by Dr Franziska Kohlt, will take place on the 4th and 5th of November. Hosted by the University of York (UK), all talks and associated events will be held fully online. Contributions will be a mixture of traditional academic papers and alternative formats. Confirmed speakers thus far include Charlie Lovett and Diane Waggoner.

“The Looking-Glass itself will be the focal point of the conference. Aiming to explore the significance of the mirror in literature, science, theology, art and other fields, it will explore any facets of this concept that were relevant to ideas that shaped Carroll’s work, or, which have since been integral to its interpretation at different points in time.

“We particularly also invite reflections from practitioners, including creators of adaptations of the text, professionals in translation, museum studies, librarians, fashion, as well as from performers and interpreters, authors, poets and illustrators.”

Contributions for a new Companion to Through the Looking Glass, to be published with Peter Lang (Oxford) in 2022, will be sought after the conference.

Here’s their website and the call for papers. Questions? Email Dr Kohlt.