THE PHILOSOPHER'S ALICE: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll by Peter Heath

THE PHILOSOPHER'S ALICE: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Certain that the intellectuality of Carroll's classic must ""rule it out as fit reading for children"" and that allegorical, psychoanalytical and ""purely literary"" interpretations have left even the ordinary adult reader in the dark as to its true logico-philosophical import, Heath undertakes a marginal explication. The format is borrowed, with acknowledgment, from Gardiner's Annotated Alice and peppered with variably pertinent references ranging from Wittgenstein, Bishop Berkeley and the Jefferson Airplane to ""the existentialists"" who ""might envy (Alice's) identity crises"" and Karl Marx who would no doubt equate the Dodo's presentation to Alice of a piece of her own property with exploitative capitalism. At frequently pedantic length Heath clarifies the obvious (regarding Alice's dilemma about which is ""the other side"" of the mushroom, ""the uniformity of the circumference offers no opportunity for distinguishing any part of it as a 'side' in relationship to any other. . .""), labels all lapses in logic (Alice's tale/tail confusion is ""a fallacy of equivocation. . . homophonic, as opposed to lexical, ambiguity"") and he informs us repeatedly that ""had she picked the right word (she) would have successfully said what she meant."" Professorial to the end, he takes Alice to task -- waggishly -- for ""reckless indulgence in every drug and nostrum that comes within her reach"" but more seriously for ""quibbling about the facts instead of questioning the principle"" behind the Lory's assertion that ""I am older than you and must know better."" Similarly, Heath faults the Rabbit for ""equating a factual problem with a logical truth,"" and accuses the Dodo of ""sesquipedalian circumlocution.

Pub Date: June 17th, 1974
Publisher: St. Martin's Press