HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Lewis Carroll, born 27 January 1832
“I can’t go back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
He was a shy mathematician, who gained fame around the world because he wrote Alice in Wonderland. I have never fallen in love with Alice. I can recognise its cleverness, and Carroll’s clever twisting of logic, but the book has never moved me emotionally. I find it a cold book, and never feel any desire to re-read it. Is it just me, or are there lots of Alice non-fans out there?
The works of Lewis Carroll’s that I do love are two of his poems – Jabberwocky, with its vivid made-up words:
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
And The Walrus and the Carpenter, with that scene on the beach when walrus and carpenter dine on the stupid oysters:
“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.”
Here’s a cute animated version of The Walrus and the Carpenter in an extract from Alice in Wonderland (1951):
Lewis Carroll was of course Charles Dodgson, keen photographer and maths professor. There is a lovely story that Queen Victoria was so impressed with Alice in Wonderland that she wrote to him requesting a copy of his next book as soon as it was published. She must have been very bemused when Carroll sent her his An Elementary Treatise on Determinants.
Lewis Carroll died of pneumonia on 14 January 1898, aged 65.
What do you think of Alice in Wonderland? Tell me your thoughts in the comment area below.
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