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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition - Lewis Carroll, Martin Gardner I've read "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" at least a dozen times, and noticed something new and intriguing each time, which is why it earns 5-stars. The annotations in this edition add even more.

Fantastic wordplay, satirical takes on then-famous poems, and illustrations that do double- and triple-duty add layers to a "kid-sized" story of adventure.

I love how the sentences challenge our assumptions of how language works, what metaphor, grammar, and style can do. Alice's reactions to the fabulous also remind us we have that capacity ourselves.

The Alice stories were the topic of my first-ever term paper, in tenth grade, when I loved the puns and all the invented words. As a senior, I compared its many arguments yet positive tone to the arguments and satire of Gulliver's Travels. When I came back to it in college, I noticed all the imagery and references to death. As a young adult, I dived into the politics, especially hints in Tenniel's illustrations. This time, shortly after having to take a ton of em-dashes out of a piece I wrote, I saw the sentences--and how many em-dashes and words *emphasized* in italics he used.

Some of my favorite bits:

"Now I'll give you something to believe. I'm just one hundred and one, five months and a day."
"I can't believe that!" said Alice.
"Can't you?" the Queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again: draw a long breath and shut your eyes."
Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Humpty Dumpty simled contemptuously. "Of course you don't--till I tell you. I means 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
"But 'glory' doesn't mean 'a nice knock-down argument,'" Alice objected.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master--that's all."

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I con't much care where--" said Alice
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."