Vox Hunt: Favorite Character from Alice in Wonderland – The Artful Dodgson

Lewis Carroll was born on this day in 1832. To celebrate his birthday, show us your favorite character from Wonderland.  (or Looking Glass World – aubrey's edit)

When I was very little, 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There' filled me with delicious horror.  The words made no sense – they were blithe and mad, with twisted grammar and unheard of definitions.  And yet they were served to me as if I had to devour them like I would my every day words.  The unknown was suddenly so close:  confusing, alarming.

But I also fell into the darkness of the illustrations – as fast, as blindly as Alice did.  John Tenniel's characters were realistic, yet they were monstrous:  sneezing pigs, oysters with tiny legs, a beautifully drawn calf's head sprouting from a turtle's shell, a rabbit frantically searching for his gloves…the gallery of frights went on and on.

But the drawings were magnificent – I know that now, and I believe that I sensed it then.  The forests that housed the Jabberwocky, the Cheshire Cat…were created out of crosses and clashes of his pen, creating depths so absolute I felt as if I could reach into that page and pull one of those creatures out.

Yet, for all of these marvels, I needed to be comforted – I needed something familiar.  I think I was as relieved as Alice was when she met the Fawn:

 "Just then a Fawn came wandering by:  it looked at Alice with its large gentle eyes, but didn't seem at all frightened.  'Here then!  Here then!' Alice said, as she held out her hand and tried to stroke it; but it only started back a little, and then stood looking at her again.

'What do you call yourself?'  the Fawn said at last.  Such a soft sweet voice it had!

'I wish I knew!' thought poor Alice.  She answered, rather sadly, 'Nothing, just now.'

'Think again,' it said:  'that won't do.'

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9 responses to “Vox Hunt: Favorite Character from Alice in Wonderland – The Artful Dodgson

  1. I'm with you. To a point, that being that Alice in Wonderland — or the Looking Glass — always made a helluva lot more sense to me than people. Not surprised, btw, that you'd want to answer this QotD

  2. For reasons that are obvious to people who know me, I am extremely familiar with the Alice books. My parents collected first editions of every illustrator of them and they had spoof spin-offs and 'missing' chapters. Those books are incredibly precious.
    You've captured the sense of the slightly shifting sand you're balancing on when you read those books – there's something dark just beyond the story that gives an edge to the experience of reading it or having it read to you; something slightly disturbing and disruptive but not malicious.
    After John Tenniel's illustrations, I love Arthur Rackhams – this one in particular.

  3. I love your choice and the reasons for it. There's a woman on Etsy who makes Alice in Wonderland inspired jewellery – I'm sorely tempted by the White Rabbit one (he was always my favourite).

  4. Oh wow, Foxy – those are beautiful. I want several of those quite hard.

  5. your own way with words is delightfully interesting, Aubrey.love the quote you posted.

  6. "The unknown was suddenly so close: confusing, alarming." That certainly captures what made Wonderland so alluring.

  7. WBaby – I read this question at work, and was in a panic to get home, formulate an answer, and get it posted. The subject is important to me, and I wanted to be counted among the ones who answered it.
    Jando – Tenniel's illustrations were true to life, but with a little twist that startled you and made you look askance at the things that surrounded you in your own 'normal' life. What dangers lurked there?
    Foxette – Those jewels – I crave the necklace which has the drawing of the smiling leg of mutton. More than the Jabberwocky, more than the Duchess, that illustration scared the holiest of hells out me.
    6-String – Ah! I was so grateful for that vignette of kindness and normalcy – before being pulled back into the world of terror and wonder!
    Red Pen – The unknown was not only close – it was all around you. Does that make you look deeper, or look away?

  8. Look deeper, definitely.

  9. Oh, Alice. I love the books, and I love your choice. What you said about Tenniel's illustrations hold true for the written word of the books as well. There was always something simmering under the surface, something that was scary yet fascinating and wouldn't let go.

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