Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
on July 13, 2003
When you begin to read this book (together with its second part "Sylvie and Bruno Concluded"), you must always remember what Lewis Carroll states in the Preface: that the book was written putting together all sorts of bits of writing that the author had skteched and drafted here and there for a long time, trying to find a common thread. So it's an assorted bunch of funny, clever and often deep pages. Even so, you might miss one of the charms of "Alice's adventures in Wonderland": the spontaneity, the straightforwardness. This is very much the opposite situation: a book that was written slowly, painstakingly constructing the main body of the story.
So you can find here almost all dimensions of Carroll's thoughts: humorous nonsense and innumerable puns (including a word as original as "Jabberwocky" or "Boojum": "Phlizz"); logical and mathematical puzzles, including a simple and clever description of a Möbius strip; tender and lovely stories for children; lots of poetry... And three elements I haven't found neither in the Alice books nor in "The Hunting of the Snark": solemn religious meditations; the only real presence of death in a Carroll text (as far as I know, not being a Carroll scholar myself) when Sylvie watches a dead hare; and an adult romance.
All these aspects are intertwined in a precarious narrative line-- there are almost as many disgressions as there are chapters; but what might seem a flaw in the book can be its main charm. All in all, Carroll found here A METHOD FOR NONSENSE or, as he says, "a far clearer idea (...) of the meaning of the word 'chaos'".
This is certainly not the best book to begin to read Carroll, but it's a pity it's not even half as popular as the Alice books. It's really worth reading it: it's like delving deep into the goldmine of the brain and the heart of a genius.