The Literary Phoenix

Funny, the damage a silly little book can do. Especially in the hands of a silly little girl.

Growing up, I hated the Alice franchise. I though the Disney movie was weird and boring and entirely too colorful. My mom had an illustrated Alice book that I rather liked, though, and it was that book that kept Alice in the back of my mind. For years.

Fast forward.

I didn’t read (I’m talking read here, not look at pictures) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland until sophomore year of college. I started writing a story, spontaneously, called Absolutely Mad and knowing my childhood reluctance against the franchise, I figured it would be a good time to pip into the children’s section of the college library and check out the books. For research purposes, you understand.

Enchanting. I know that Carroll wrote the stories as a series of adventures to entertain the young Alice Liddell, and therefore, no definitive plot can be found, but I found the idea just as enchanting as the strange and curious stories inside. I read both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass in the matter of a day, and my imagination was overflowing. I sought more.

Previously ignorant, I was not aware of the expanse of the Alice franchise. It turns out that beyond the Disney animated feature (which, for those who are curious, Walt Disney himself was incredibly disappointed in), there are a gazillion movies and games and other inspired products. Many hearts and imaginations have been captured by the little girl who falls into a make believe world and embarks in a series of misadventures. I think the favorite film version I saw, (prior to the latest Tim Burton masterpiece-ish) was one starring both Martin Short and Whoopie Goldberg. Curiouser and curiouser!

Then, later that year, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland came out.

You either liked it or hated it. I chose to look past Burton’s flaunting of his two favorite actors – Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter – and focus on the fact that he had created a new, beautiful world for Alice, and quite frankly, I thought the actress who played her was delightful. Imagination inspired again!

After that, there was the SyFy miniseries Alice that not only continued my love of the franchise (and brought in new and different aspects that many of the other cinematic attempts had chosen to ignore… I guess that’s the perks of a miniseries!) but inspired me to watch Primeval, because lets face it, how can you not absolutely fall in love with Andrew-Lee Potts? By the time I discovered the miniseries, everyone who was friends with me on Facebook was getting tired of hearing about That Amazing and Wondrous Thing That is Alice in Wonderland and probably hoping I would become obsessed with something normal… like the Twilight Series (never gonna happen).

By this time, I had already abandonned the story Absolutely Mad. Or, at least, I am hopelessly stuck in it… the kind of stuck that makes you want to throw away the fifteen thousand words you’ve managed and go back to the beginning and start again. So I could do that. OR.

It turns out there is a somewhat fabulous Alice in Wonderland-themed computer game. Two, actually, but I haven’t played the original. I am a sad person and put out the full amount to buy the sequel (Alice: Madness Returns) off Steam when it became available because it just seemed too darn cool that there actually is an Alice in Wonderland video game. And I play it more frequently than any of my other video games.

So, I think in short… I have this thing about the Alice in Wonderland franchise. Basically, I think it is brilliant. The idea of escaping through “betweens” to a magical world is enough to tickle and reader’s imagination, and that is why Lewis Carroll’s books have become literary classics.

What classic story continues to capture your time, passion, and imagination… even as an adult?

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3 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland – An Explanation.

  1. David Grandits-Mahan says:

    I have a confession to make.

    I love the Harry Potter series now. I know that’s probably a shock to you, since I was so against it when we met, but I had a similar experience with Harry Potter that you describe having with Alice. When the books first came out, I was about the same age as the characters (I know–I missed out on one of the greatest literary experiences of a lifetime), and at that time in my life, I had no interest in such things. Not fantasy in general, but in that particular type of fantasy. So from the start I was prejudiced against it. When I got a little older, I thought I might give them a chance. I read the first book, and wasn’t too impressed–mostly because I had been expecting the title character to carry the story, and to be the main draw to the series. I was sadly disappointed, never really liking Harry all that much, and being at the same time too old to appreciate the childishness of the story, and too young to realize how remarkably well it had been done. So I never picked up the second book (which is now one of my favorites, ironically). I also made the unfortunate decision of going with a group of friends to see the Goblet of Fire movie (the WORST movie of the series) in theaters, which further diminished my interest in the franchise. I read the third book in college, as required reading for a class, and that book was good enough that it piqued my interest again. I had no spare reading time in college however, so nothing ever came of my renewed interest. Then Megan suggested one day that we read through the series together–I had never done it, and Megan had only read to book five before, so we were both interested in reading the series together. I read them out loud every night, a few chapters at a time, complete with proper accents and voices for each character. Over the course of the several months it took us to finish the series, I fell in love with the wizarding world, and with many of the characters. I still don’t particularly love Harry, but he is a fascinating and complex character, and I think the development and maturing of his personality over the course of the stories is masterfully done. Most of Rowling’s characters have rich, complex, and fully developed personalities–by far though, my favorite character in the series has to be Hermione. She’s such a wonderful character, and just the sort of person I’d love to meet in real life. I found myself cheering for her the most of any character in the story, and always being highly invested in what was happening to her.

    So anyway….you win. Harry Potter rules.

    1. 😀 I agree entirely that Harry himself doesn’t rule. But the vastness of the universe and variety of the characters… It’s not only phenominal YA fantasy… It’s brilliant writing. I’m glad you found a happy place with them (finally!)

  2. manatthought says:

    I have a much better appreciation for her writing style as well–it seems very simple, but it’s really not simple at all. She ages her characters *perfectly*, throughout each book. Not only do they mature from one book to the next, but they mature throughout the book itself, and you don’t ever notice it happening. I never once felt that Harry or Ron or Hermione made a sudden leap in character–they seemed almost to never change, except that when you look back, you can see how much they have changed. And that’s *exactly how life happens*. Brilliant.

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