January 7, 2009

Lewis Carrol: Through the Looking Glass

The last book I finished reading in 2008 was Alice in Wonderland and I have now finished reading part two of the story, Through the Looking Glass. I was at first puzzled by the board game inside my copy of the book. The first page notes which characters (players) are which color (red or white) for a game of chess. It made me think of how we see font such as was in this book in works of Shakespeare right before the start of the plays. I began reading wondering if the story would appear in a similar fashion. It began with a poem and then an introduction about the pages showing the chess game information to make it more clear. The story itself was just like the last story in the way of the style it was written in.

I immediately ooed and awed over the black and white kittens, Kitty and Snowdrop. I had only known of Alice's cat, Dina, existing. As I read I had to stop toward the beginning because it hadn't been clear to me right away that Alice, rather than dreaming such as in Alice in Wonderland, was this time daydreaming and using her imagination.

Imagination is a perfect thing for children to have, and very good for a child who seems to not have any other children around to play with. Alice occupies her time playing with cats and inventing things that are make believe. She starts off with the mirror in the very room she is playing in by going through it and seeing how everything she already knew from her own world in another way, how it is on the other and unknown side of the looking glass.

On the other side of the looking glass, the chess pieces in the room have life. Alice begins this story by playing the part of one of the pawns. She comes across a few characters (i.e., players in this story) who she already met before and meets a few new faces as well. There is a great deal of playing with words. The characters put focus on some words versus others, and change the form of some sentences entirely to have a new meaning or to ask a new question.

I had to fold one of the pages because the poem on it reminded me of another. This is what was inside my book:

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things :
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings"

--(Carrol, 153)

I think there were actually a few poems this reminded me of but at present I can't name a single one. I think some others who read poetry might be able to tell me what other poem I might possibly have been thinking of.

Of course, I was very likely to recall these words from Disney's movie as well, which I did. I pictured it and was not happy for those dear little clams. I think I would have lacked as much sympathy for them without it because they were just too young and cute in the film. How dare that Carpenter and Walrus! I also pitied the kitty who Alice shook when the Red Queen turned into Kitty. Yes, it's only a story. Yes also that Alice must love them, though not quite enough to understand what their meows mean. Silly Alice.


jugglingpaynes said...

I had a feeling you might enjoy this one better. The Walrus and the Carpenter is one of our favorites! I love Tweedledee and Tweedledum's discussion of it afterward. :o)

And then of course, there is the Jabberwocky poem. Classic! I've juggled to that one.