Sunday Splendour – Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser…

About the Book:

Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland is a cultural phenomenon. First published in 1865, it has never been out of print and has been translated into 170 languages. But why does it have such enduring and universal appeal for both adults and children?

This book explores the global impact of Alice in Wonderland across art, design and performance from the nineteenth century to today. It shows how Alice has been re-imagined and reinterpreted by each new generation: from the original illustrations by John Tenniel to artwork by Peter Blake and Salvador Dali, and from the 1951 Disney movie to Tim Burton’s latest interpretation.

This beautiful, playful publication also includes specially commissioned interactive illustrations by award-winning artist Kristjana S. Williams, as well as quotes from an array of cultural creators from Stephen Fry to Tim Walker, Ralph Steadman to Little Simz about the profound influence of Alice on their work.

My Thoughts:

This stunning book, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, is an utter delight for dedicated adult Alice in Wonderland fans. This publication has been produced to accompany the exhibition, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, running from 27th March 2021 to 31st December 2021. In a Covid ravaged world, this beautiful book provides a satisfying substitute to seeing the exhibition itself. The book opens with a reproduced collection of the most sublime illustrations by Icelandic artist, Kristjana S. Williams, telling the key parts of Alice in Wonderland through interactive art. These were just stunning and I can only imagine how incredible they would look enlarged and on display.

Kristjana S. Williams, from The Pool of Tears sequence of Wonderland.

‘A parable for the modern age, Alice offers an escape from reality and the opportunity for imagination. With potential for spectacle, silliness, satire and social commentary, the books’ powers have been harnessed by writers, directors and producers for stage and screen to both entertain and inform wide cross-sections of society. Alice’s playful binary of ordinary and extraordinary presents limitless opportunities for adaptation, with many translations harnessing the latest technology for the greatest creative impact. From being influenced by performance to inspiring performance itself, ‘Alice in Wonderland’ continues to evolve, embracing, utilising and reflecting performance genres, fashion, technology and culture, while inspiring the next generation of interpreters and Alice’s alike.’

While there have been so many outstanding visionary interpretations of Alice in Wonderland, artistically, I couldn’t go past Salvador Dali’s Mad Tea Party (pictured here). Dali was commissioned by an editor at Random House to illustrate a new edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published in 1969. This is one edition I would absolutely love to get a copy of. It’s unlikely I have enough money though!

Picture details: Salvador Dali, Mad Tea Party, heliogravure on paper, 1969.

‘Dali’s vibrant response shows how the themes, ideas and metaphors in the text are the perfect vehicle for experimentation…
Dali’s Alice is always present but often difficult to find. His tiny ‘shadow’ Alice, depicted in black ink, appears on every page and undergoes a subtle transformation as she moves through the episodes, growing in self-confidence and maturity.’

If you are a little Alice obsessed, as I am, then it’s worth investing in this book. It’s not a children’s book, but rather, it is a book to be appreciated by adults who love literature, art, theatre and film. There is so much to read and look at within. If you are the type of person who might have attended this exhibition at the V&A given the right circumstances, then this book is for you. It would also make a very special gift to any Alice in Wonderland fans in your life. To be honest, it’s the book about Alice in Wonderland that I’ve been waiting all my adult life for.

‘No story in English literature has intrigued me more than Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland… Carroll was revolutionary in the field of literature. He violated the serious Victorian tradition by writing Alice in a vein of fantasy and nonsense. In fact, he was a pace-setter for the motion picture cartoon and the comic strip of today… (Walt Disney, film producer)

Thanks is extended to Bloomsbury for providing me with a copy of Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser for review.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser
Published by Bloomsbury – V&A Publications
Released 2nd July 2020

6 thoughts on “Sunday Splendour – Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser

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