THE ANNOTATED ALICE by Lewis Carroll

THE ANNOTATED ALICE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A welcome, greatly expanded third edition of Gardner’s beloved critical edition of Carroll’s Victorian fairy tales. One of the longest ongoing love affairs in literature has to be that between Gardner, a prolific, popular writer on math and science, and Carroll’s ostensible children’s tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. With a dedication rare even among scholars, Gardner has tracked down origins and meanings of the wordplay and mathematical puzzles the sly Carroll embedded in his texts. He has also researched Charles Dodgson’s life and illuminated the two stories— sly parody of high Victorian culture. This new volume combines the notes from The Annotated Alice (1960) and More Annotated Alice (1990) with Gardner’s latest discoveries, offering both ardent fans of Carroll’s work and newcomers a chance to read the texts in the light of Gardner’s labors. The result is rather like sitting in on the creation of a work of art; the manner in which the shy mathematician and tutor Dodgson poured everything that fascinated him (children’s games, chess, mathematical riddles and logic, an amused view of Victorian literature and society) into the work by his alter ego Carroll is illuminated through Gardner’s lucid and copious notes. They run in a narrow (and surprisingly unobtrusive) column accompanying Carroll’s text on each page, turning the book into a fluid mix of Carroll and Gardner. The illustrations, by John Tenniel, also provide fertile ground for Gardner’s commentary. The notes are so clear, enthusiastic, and helpful that it is now hard to imagine Carroll without Gardner. A unique collaboration has produced, for once, a book that lives up to its name. As close to a definitive take on a classic work as anyone is likely to come.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-393-04847-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999




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