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Still She Haunts Me Paperback – October 1, 2002

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038533530X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385335300
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Roiphe (The Morning After; Last Night in Paradise) takes as the subject of her latest effort the relationship between the elusive Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child-muse for whom he wrote Alice in Wonderland. The true nature of their acquaintance was Dodgson sexually attracted to Alice, or was he merely an acolyte in the Victorian cult of the child? is fertile ground for Roiphe's first novel, a product of prodigious research and empathy for the stuttering young mathematics lecturer. His infatuation does not go unnoticed: Alice's mother's suspicions of him mount over the years, and eventually he is cut out of the family's life altogether. Fascinating though a fictional exploration of Dodgson's life may be, Roiphe's tale is problematic on a number of levels. Her prose is often bloated with excess adjectives and a reportorial voice intermittently intrudes. Invented diary entries purportedly by Dodgson are turgid and ponderous, clashing with the drollery of his published work, even when one acknowledges that public and private personae are often opposed. Early in his acquaintance with Alice, he writes, "one can see the heat of her unhappiness rising off the photograph her desire so palpable to be & not just appear to be some creature other than what she is." His passion, the way Roiphe describes it, comes very near to turning him into a weak, meek Humbert Humbert minus the evil wit that made Nabokov's antihero so appealing. When Dodgson ruins a photograph of his beloved Alice by mistakenly rubbing out the features of her face, the resulting blur seems to mirror the novel: despite great care, what is meant to be a clear psychological portrait renders its subject fuzzy and distorted. National advertising.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sexuality and feminism are the subjects of Roiphe's nonfiction works, a solid launching pad for her first novel, a nervy interpretation of the enigmatic relationship between the high-strung Oxford mathematician and photographer Charles Dodgson and young Alice Liddell, a mutual infatuation that inspired Dodgson to write Alice in Wonderland under the name Lewis Carroll. Roiphe uses Dodgson's unsettling photographs of Alice as clues to the nature of their unconventional and risky involvement, much like Helen Humphreys fictionalizes a controversial friendship integral to photographer Julia Margaret Cameron's work in Afterimage [BKL Mr 1 01]. Roiphe's tale is psychologically canny if a bit pat in its matching of scenes from Alice in Wonderland with invented scenes from her hero's jittery life, but she suggests a dramatic and plausible source for Dodgson's chivalrous love for little girls and repugnance toward women, and her portrayals of a vain and uneasy Mrs. Liddell and a piquant and touching Alice are skillfully nuanced. Best of all, Roiphe conveys nearly subliminal yet razor-sharp commentary on the passive-aggressive nature of the Victorian era within an artful and compelling story of a lonely, stuttering, but brilliant misfit, an audacious girl's awakening to her womanly powers, and the creation of one of the most imaginative tales ever published. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Jolley HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Writing a fictional account of a very real person's life is a tricky endeavor - it also complicates the reviewing process. I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, but all I really knew about Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was the fact that he was a mathematician. That being the case, I've tried very hard not to let this fictional treatment of the man influence my opinion of him - especially since this is a rather unsettling account of his relationship with young Alice Liddell. We know that, as a young mathematics lecturer at Oxford, he enjoyed a special relationship with young Alice for seven years - then, the Liddells made it clear that they did not want Dodgson spending any more time with them or their eleven-year-old daughter. The reasons for this sudden break are shrouded in a bit of mystery, and those are the facts that I hold to. What Katie Roiphe has done is to take the known facts and construct a fascinating story around them. She may be right on the money - or she may be way off base. The important thing to remember is that Still She Haunts Me is essentially a work of fiction.

Some readers may be disturbed by the story Roiphe tells in these pages. Some will look at Dodgson's passionate, confused feelings for Alice as borderline depravity, while others will see something strangely beautiful about the relationship. Dodgson is an incredibly complicated character in this novel. He meets Alice when he is nearing thirty and she is four years old, and he clearly grows to love her in some remarkable fashion over the ensuing seven years. She is forbidden fruit, something he can cling to yet never really grab hold of. There is nothing conclusively sexual about his feelings at all, though - in my interpretation.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Larry L. Looney on October 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Katie Roiphe's novel of the relationship between Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell (for whom he wrote Alice's adventures in Wonderland and Through the looking-glass) is one of the most beautifully-written books I've read in some time. The questions surrounding the relationship are long-standing - was Dodgson's obsession with Alice grounded in innocence or in lust (even if repressed)? How did Alice herself view the relationship, both as it was happening and, as she grew older, in retrospect? There is mention of a reference to Dodgson by Alice, written for a magazine when she was in her 80s, that is warm and sentimental - but even in this reference, she mentions the fact that all of the letters Dodgson wrote to her when she was a child were destroyed by her mother. This novel might not answer these questions completely and thoroughly - how, indeed, could it do that, given the passage of time and the destruction of crucial `evidence' - but it seems that Roiphe has done her very extensive research with accuracy in mind, and the results make for an extremely readable, compelling and moving story.
Like any relationship that involves even a hint of the possibility of child abuse or pedophilia, there are undercurrents and subtleties swimming just beneath the surface of the more obvious events and emotions. The story of Dodgson and Alice raises questions as questions are answered. The mathematics lecturer met Alice and her family (her father was his dean at Oxford) when the girl was only four years old, and remained close to the Liddells until Alice was eleven, when events caused the tensions which had been simmering for seven years to boil over.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T. Jonas on April 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I give this book three stars due to its writing style and its focus on character study; otherwise I fear it might have gotten lower.
The writing quality is certainly far, far above the average paperback, and even above some novels classified by your neighborhood bookstore as literary fiction.
I also really love a character study. Deep, deep characterization is the grail for me. Unfortunately, although the author made a VERY good go at it (the research and effort alone must have been tremendous), she doesn't hit the bulls eye. Everything is there; the habits, the emotions, even the sympathy for the main character... and still one does not feel they have been there, in the middle of Dodgson's soul. The reader hovers just outside Dodgson, examining him from all (external) angles.
The plot is not necessarily slow; really, in terms of Dodgson's interactions with Alice, it goes at just the right pace. I appreciated the few times the author lets us see Dodgson outside the college or Hunt's office -- at a photography exhibition, for instance. And still, in whole, the entire book seems to drag a little. One reason for this is Mrs. Liddell's remarkably slow reaction time. She suspects something is not quite right in the situation between Dodgson and her child, but her maternal instinct does not kick in other than to give her some deep thoughts. She takes no action until she finds nude photographs of Alice. Though this book takes place in another era, I can't see a mother during ANY period letting a suspicous fellow near her child.
In fact, the author uses Mrs. Liddell's point of view several times, a treat I think the book could definitely do without. It adds nothing to the story; if anything, it detracts from it.
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