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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition Hardcover – November 17, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
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"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations!"
Readers who share Alice's taste in books will be more than satisfied with The Annotated Alice, a volume that includes not only pictures and conversations, but a thorough gloss on the text as well. There may be some, like G.K. Chesterton, who abhor the notion of putting Lewis Carroll's masterpiece under a microscope and analyzing it within an inch of its whimsical life. But as Martin Gardner points out in his introduction, so much of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is composed of private jokes and details of Victorian manners and mores that modern audiences are not likely to catch. Yes, Alice can be enjoyed on its own merits, but The Annotated Alice appeals to the nosy parker in all of us. Thus we learn, for example, that the source of the mouse's tale may have been Alfred Lord Tennyson who "once told Carroll that he had dreamed a lengthy poem about fairies, which began with very long lines, then the lines got shorter and shorter until the poem ended with fifty or sixty lines of two syllables each." And that, contrary to popular belief, the Mad Hatter character was not a parody of then Prime Minister Gladstone, but rather was based on an Oxford furniture dealer named Theophilus Carter.
Gardner's annotations run the gamut from the factual and historical to the speculative and are, in their own way, quite as fascinating as the text they refer to. Occasionally, he even comments on himself, as when he quotes a fellow annotator of Alice, James Kincaid: "The historical context does not call for a gloss but the passage provides an opportunity to point out the ambivalence that may attend the central figure and her desire to grow up." And then follows with a charming riposte: "I thank Mr. Kincaid for supporting my own rambling." There's a lot of information in the margins (indeed, the page is pretty evenly divided between Carroll's text and Gardner's), but the ramblings turn out to be well worth the time. So hand over your old copy of Lewis Carroll's classic to the kids--this Alice in Wonderland is intended entirely for adults. --Alix Wilber
From Library Journal
Clarkson Potter published The Annotated Alice in 1960, and Gardner published the sequel More Annotated Alice in 1990. Here, Gardner combines and expands both to produce The Definitive Edition. This presents the full texts of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and "The Wasp in a Wig," a "suppressed" chapter of Looking-Glass. Each of these texts is accompanied by a lengthy marginal commentary that identifies historical and literary references and allusions, explains Carroll's logical and mathematical puzzles, and interprets colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. Gardner's commentary is sufficiently detailed to be informative without burdening Alice with excessive pedantic baggage. The Definitive Edition also includes Tenniel's original illustrations and an exhaustive annotated list by David Shaefer of Alice on the screen. This is a happy contribution to those who appreciate Lewis Carroll.
-Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Furthermore, considering it contains both books, plus the excellent Hunting of the Snark, it is a fantastic price.
However, there are still some glaring mistakes, such as some formatting bugs in a few of the poems and spelling errors in places (such as at the start of Looking Glass, where some of the Ls are replaced with 1s - I guess a scanner did the 'writing here').
5 stars for the great price and superior formatting over the other options. -1 star for the glaring lack of proof reading from the publisher.
Wonderland: ISBN-10: 1402768354 ISBN-13: 978-1402768354
Looking Glass: ISBN-10: 0957148399 ISBN-13: 978-0957148390
"The Complete Alice: with the Original Illustrations by Sir John Tenniel in Full Colour" is my pick of editions with Tenniel's classic (and brilliant!) illustrations. Full colour adds so much! This is a beautifully designed book for the most part. I just find it too WHITE! I understand why they went with a white cover, but they really should have found a way to make red work. I object on historical, artistic, & practical grounds. The inside has the same problem: too much white space to even look right. I wish they'd either kept the print & picture size the same but made the book smaller & less cumbersome, or else enlarged the printed portion to use more of each oversized page. Still, it's a pretty impressive presentation. After hours of research & comparison, this (ISBN-10: 1627794352 ISBN-13: 978-1627794350) it's the copy I chose for my daughter. That says a lot, considering how frustrated I am with some of the publisher's choices!
Adult fans & older children might share my enjoyment of John Vernon Lord's interpretations.
Since Alice can seem quite a daunting book to the target-aged independent reader, I love the idea of publishing 'Alice' in a boxed set of 22 miniature hardcover volumes. Imagine a fancy shoebox of sturdy, tiny Alice books on your child's shelf at home, or second-graders racing each other for the next volume at school! Unfortunately, Oxenbury's illustrations practically ruin the story. The modernization of Alice wasn't the big issue for me. The problem is far more serious: Oxenbury's artwork does not match the tone of Carroll's story AT ALL. I adore some of Oxenbury's books--and the pictures in this one are cute, too. I don't think Oxenbury was trying to make any statement. (If so, it doesn't work.) It seems she just didn't adapt her style to the author's. I wish someone else would give this concept a try. Little kids may be too intimidated to even start a long classic, because they fear 'failure'. Contrariwise, the success of finishing one short (yet respectable) book just makes them eager to read the next! But the illustrations have got to work.
Most recent customer reviews
The illustrations are stunning, I mean really truly exquisite and beautiful to behold.Read more