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.'