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Spotlight on Wonderland: Alice

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Are you the curious sort? Ever catch yourself daydreaming in class or at work, yearning for more excitement in your day? Then you may have found a kindred spirit in Alice!

Alice is the much-loved protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. She is headstrong, well-mannered, adventurous, intelligent, and imaginative. Her daydreaming leads her to follow a white rabbit with a pocket watch down the rabbit hole and into a vibrant world of talking mice, mad tea party guests, murderous royalty, and petulant insects.

Alice is quick tempered at times and, given the madness that surrounds her, understandably so.  After all, wouldn’t you get riled up trying to have tea with a rude Hatter, crazed March Hare, and a constantly napping Dormouse?

`Really, now you ask me,’ said Alice, very much confused, `I don’t think–‘

`Then you shouldn’t talk,’ said the Hatter.

This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; the Dormouse fell asleep instantly, and neither of the others took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her: the last time she saw them, they were trying to put the Dormouse into the teapot.

`At any rate I’ll never go THERE again!’ said Alice as she picked her way through the wood. `It’s the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!’

Just as she said this, she noticed that one of the trees had a door leading right into it. `That’s very curious!’ she thought. `But everything’s curious today. I think I may as well go in at once.’ And in she went.

Alice and the QueenAlice is undeterred by the nonsense that surrounds her as she explores Wonderland and its bizarre cast of characters. She remains ever-curious, using her wits navigate the (quite literal) ups and downs of her journey.

She may be a child, by Alice is inquisitive, bright, and starts to adjust to the strange logic of Wonderland. She holds her own in a conversation with the puzzling Cheshire Cat and isn’t afraid to speak her mind and challenge authority. Even when that authority is a execution-happy, ill-tempered queen!

`No, no!’ said the Queen. `Sentence first–verdict afterwards.’

`Stuff and nonsense!’ said Alice loudly. `The idea of having the sentence first!’

`Hold your tongue!’ said the Queen, turning purple.

`I won’t!’ said Alice.

`Off with her head!’ the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

`Who cares for you?’ said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) `You’re nothing but a pack of cards!’

There’s a charm to Alice’s tenacity.  Although she often (unintentionally) upsets the creatures she meets, she is still polite, inquisitive, and eager. Alice is endearing because she reminds us of the innocence and curiosity of childhood. Shrinking down to the size of a three inch caterpillar and talking to a grinning cat whose body disappears into thin air might seem frightening to some , but it also sounds like a lot of fun! Even surrounded by madness, Alice looks back fondly on her time in Wonderland:

Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!’ said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, `It WAS a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it’s getting late.’ So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

What do you think of Alice? Would you follow the White Rabbit into a strange world of nonsense, madness, and fun?

Did you Know:

  • Tenniel’s drawings of Alice look nothing like Alice Liddell, on whom Carroll’s heroine is based. Alice Liddell had short, dark hair, and straight bangs.
  • In the story, Alice has a cat named Dinah. Alice Liddell was also fond of her family’s two cats – one of which was named Dinah.
  • According to Lewis Carroll, Alice is:

    “courteous to all, high or low, grand or grotesque, King or Caterpillar…trustful, ready to accept the wildest impossibilities with all that utter trust that only dreamers know…wildly curious…with the eager enjoyment of Life that comes only in the happy hours of childhood.”

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to discover more about Alice and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

 

 

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Alice’s Adventures in Hornbake Library are Coming to an End

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If you haven’t made it to Hornbake Library to experience our exhibit Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll, now is the time! The final day it is open will be Friday, July 29th.

Over the past two years, we feel like we have become friends with Alice and her Wonderland friends as we have worked to bring her story to life by displaying the collection of two very devoted Lewis Carroll collectors, August and Clare Imholtz.

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August and Clare have been collecting Lewis Carroll and Alice related items for 35 years. Their collection has brought to light the astonishing ways Alice’s adventures have been translated, illustrated, and transformed over time. Whether she is portrayed with light or dark hair, yellow or blue dress, short or tall, young or old, Alice’s indefatigable curiosity and eager enjoyment of life remain at the core of Carroll’s story that has remained a fixture in literary and pop culture for over a century and a half.

Confronted with the rows of colorful bindings under their sparking glass cases, visitors IMG_7543.JPGcannot help but be inspired by Alice’s curiosity. There are so many questions that spring to mind: How can a Cheshire Cat be a kangaroo? Why is the Hatter wearing a fez? Why is Alice ice-skating? Can the Jabberwock really play basketball? How do you say ‘Twinkle, Twinkle litter bat’ in German? Does the Queen of Hearts drink Guinness?

The exhibit may not give you all the answers to such questions, but we think Lewis Carroll would agree that it’s all part of the adventure!

Although Alice 150 Years and Counting must come to an end, the story continues in our online exhibit, which will remain open even when the doors to the exhibit are closed. Explore illustrations and discover more about the items you saw in the gallery. So even though Alice’s adventures in Hornbake Library may be ending, her story continues.

Don’t forget to stay tuned to hear what is coming next to Hornbake Library’s exhibit gallery.

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Doves Press Bible on Display in Hornbake Library

Visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library to view The English Bible, printed by the Doves Press in 1903. This is an exquisite example of the fine press movement in England, which sought to create traditionally crafted, beautiful books using handmade paper, quality ink, and carefully designed type and page layout. The Doves Press operated in England from 1900-1916.

Explore more examples of fine press books in our Literature & Rare Books collections in Special Collections and University Archives.

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Alice 150 Featured Item of the Month: July

Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz, is an exhibit highlighting the timelessness of Alice in Wonderland and the life and work of Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Each month, a new item from the exhibit will be showcased.

In July, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view postcards influenced by the characters and adventures of Alice in Wonderland, varying in dates between the early 1900’s and present day. These delightful postcards highlight the many ways Alice has impacted popular culture in the past 150 years, from stage performances to photographic and illustrative art.

You can view all the featured items of the month from Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll here.

Spotlight on Wonderland: The Queen of Hearts

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Do you have a hot temper? When it comes to overreacting, the Queen of Hearts is, well…the Queen. Whether its because she is losing at croquet, doesn’t like white roses, or simply doesn’t want the Cheshire Cat hanging around, the solution is all the same – off with their heads!

But how could a children’s book be so violent? Despite the Queen’s never-ending threats, the Gryphon assures Alice “they never executes nobody, you know.” Often, it is the King of Hearts who quietly pardons person while the Queen stomps away, the moderate voice in this royal pair. For the queen, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Even Alice is able to pull a fast one on the Queen and save the cards who dared to plant white roses in the royal garden:

`I see!’ said the Queen, who had meanwhile been examining the roses. `Off with their heads!’ and the procession moved on, three of the soldiers remaining behind to execute the unfortunate gardeners, who ran to Alice for protection.

`You shan’t be beheaded!’ said Alice, and she put them into a large flower-pot that stood near. The three soldiers wandered about for a minute or two, looking for them, and then quietly marched off after the others.

`Are their heads off?’ shouted the Queen.

`Their heads are gone, if it please your Majesty!’ the soldiers shouted in reply.

`That’s right!’ shouted the Queen.

Nursery1890tenniel_3The Queen appears to have no interest in confirming her orders are followed. And those around her are all too happy to mollify their easily provoked monarch before she turns her wrath in their direction. Just how capable can the government of Wonderland be if their days are spent pretending to execute people and playing croquet? Of course, the absurd trial of the Knave of Hearts isn’t the best example of effective governing on their part.

Typically portrayed as red-faced and wearing red, heart-covered clothing, it can be difficult to remember that there is a difference between the Queen of Hearts in Wonderland and the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass. The theme of many of the characters in Lewis Carroll’s  Alice in Wonderland is based on playing cards, where the characters in his sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, are chess-pieces.  Carroll wrote:

“I pictured to myself the Queen of Hearts as a sort of embodiment of ungovernable passion – a blind and aimless Fury. The Red Queen I pictured as a Fury, but of another type; her passion must be cold and calm – she must be formal and strict, yet not unkindly; pedantic to the 10th degree, the concentrated essence of all governesses!”

Although the Queen of Hearts is often portrayed as the villain of the story, Alice finds her nothing more than one of the many strange obstacles she encounters on her adventures. Finding herself a witness in the trial for the Knave of Hearts, Alice loudly dismisses the Queen’s sentence as “Stuff and Nonsense!” For Alice, reason and common sense see through the Queen’s empty threats and directionless anger.

What would you do if you came across this raging royal in Wonderland?

Visit the Maryland Room gallery in Hornbake Library from October 2105-July 2016 to explore the mock turtle and the rest of the Wonderland cast of characters in the exhibit Alice 150 Years and County…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz.

Visit Alice 150 Years and Counting

‘I could tell you my adventures–beginning from this morning,’ said Alice a little timidly: ‘but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.’

If you haven’t visited Hornbake Library’s Alice 150 Years and Counting exhibit, you better hurry! Soon there will be no going back to yesterday. The exhibit will be open until the end of July, so be sure to visit (or re-visit!) while you can.

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Can’t make it to Hornbake Library in person? Don’t worry, you can visit the online exhibit anytime!

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Alice 150 Featured Item of the Month: June

Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll: Selections from the Collection of August and Clare Imholtz, is an exhibit highlighting the timelessness of Alice in Wonderland and the life and work of Lewis Carroll (1832-1898). Each month, a new item from the exhibit will be showcased.

In June, visit the Maryland Room Exhibit Gallery in Hornbake Library to view a collection of miniature Alice books. Printed in multiple countries including Russia, Italy, the United States and the U.K., these delightful books seem to have sipped from the bottle labeled “Drink Me”. Most are no larger than the palm of your hand!

Also included is a miniature version of the Jabberwocky poem, printed on a “click tablet”: six red wooden boards held together by ribbon. The poem is printed on one side, while the title, colophon, and four wood engravings are displayed on the other. When held upright, the boards cascade down, revealing the story.

View all the featured items of the month from Alice 150 Years and Counting…The Legacy of Lewis Carroll in our online exhibit.