Through the looking glass.jpgPLOT:

 Alice is playing with her kittens – a black and a white kitten, the offspring of Dinah, Alice’s cat in the first book – when she ponders what the world is like on the other side of a mirror (the reflected scene displayed on its surface), and to her surprise, is able to pass through to experience the alternate world. There, she discovers a book with looking-glass poetry, “Jabberwocky”, which she can read only by holding it up to a mirror. Upon leaving the house, she enters a garden, where the flowers speak to her and mistake her for a flower. There, Alice also meets the Red Queen, who offers a throne to Alice if she moves to the eighth rank in a chess match. Alice is placed as the White Queen’s pawn, and begins the game by taking a train to the fourth rank, acting on the rule that pawns in chess can move two spaces on their first move. Red King snoring, by John TennielShe then meets Tweedledum and Tweedledee, whom she knows from the famous nursery rhyme. After reciting to her the long poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” the two proceed to act out the events of their own poem. Alice continues on to meet the White Queen, who is very absent-minded and later transforms into a sheep in a shop, then they find themselves on a small boat. The following chapter details her meeting with Humpty Dumpty, who explains to her the meaning of “Jabberwocky,” before his inevitable fall from the wall. This is followed by an encounter with the Lion and the Unicorn, who again proceed to act out a nursery rhyme. She is then rescued from the Red Knight by the White Knight. He repeatedly falls off his horse, and recites a poem of his own composition to her. At this point, Alice reaches the eighth rank and becomes a queen, and by capturing the Red Queen, puts the Red King (who has remained stationary throughout the book) into checkmate. She then awakes from her dream, holding the black kitten, whom she believes to have been the Red Queen, the White kitten being the White Queen.

MY REVIEW:

Alice Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll, follows on from its predecessor Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  Instead of reaching the magical world by falling down a rabbit hole, however, this time our heroine steps through a mirror in order to enter the author’s strange reality, where everything we know and think is overturned.

The story follows Alice as she tries to cross a chessboard world in order to reach the other side and so become a queen. On the way, she meets such wonderful characters as the twins, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty and the Red Knight and White Knight.

As in the first book, the joy of reading the story comes not from the plot or characterisation, but in being totally overpowered by Lewis Carroll’s imaginative genius and being swept into a world as different from ours as it is possible to be. This is a world where people can remember what is going to happen; where lions and unicorns fight for hours before sitting down to tea together, where anything can and does happen because such prosaic constructs as time, logic and cause and effect so essential on our world have no place.

Lewis Carroll is a truly wonderful writer. What comes across most powerfully when reading this book is that the author loves words; loves playing with them; loves seeing what they can do. This can be best seen, perhaps,  in the poems which litter the book;  poems such as The Walrus and the Carpenter and Jabberwocky.

But remember that scholars describe this book as “literary nonsense.”  That means it doesn’t have to make sense,  and it’s perfectly okay to enjoy the poems and the book as they’d seem to a child – pretentious and silly. So many later, and I still can’t forget this ridiculous line from the poem of the white knight.

“But I was thinking of a plan, to dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan that they could not be seen.”

“Through the Looking-Glass” is a very intelligent book, but at the same time, its playful silliness which makes it hard to forget.

 

This task is from “Part 1″ – Read and review Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll. It’s part of my challenge “The Alice In Wonderland Challenge…” hosted by Jenny at http://takemeaway-jennala9.blogspot.com/2009/08/alice-in-wonderland-challenge.html.

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