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May 14, 2013

Through the Looking Glass

by Brendan

Had lunch with my daughter Rebecca yesterday, as pictured (the lunch and Rebecca) below.  As is our tradition, we ate at Mildred’s (Real City Food). I had quiche with salad, and Becca had salad with seared tuna.

Lunch With Becca At Mildred's

Lunch With Becca At Mildred’s

Delicious as always — it’s Bert Gill’s restaurant, and he’s sort of a genius as a chef, not to mention a dedicated proponent of local food.  And they have excellent coffee.

Being a retired English professor (and a dad), I asked Becca if she was reading anything, and to my surprise she said, Through the Looking Glass.  Asked if she’d read Alice In Wonderland, and turns out she’d read that first.   My first question was, have you noticed that adult women come off rather badly in both books?   That hadn’t occurred to her, but she knew what I meant — there’s the Red Queen (“Off with her head!”  “Sentence first, trial after!”); also the Duchess (“Speak roughly to your little boy\And beat him when he sneezes”).   There are other examples of adult women coming off badly, while Alice herself is a perfect darling — Lewis Carroll had uneasy relationships with women and preferred the company of children.

We talked about how all the poems in the Alice books are mockeries of Victorian children’s poetry, which tended to be high-minded moralizations about how children should mind their manners, mind their parents, etc. — mockeries as in “Speak roughly to your little boy” above, as well as the famous “Jabberwocky” or “How doth the little crocodile\Improve his shining tail?”

Becca’s next question wass a good one: Are the Alice books really for children?  I asked, “What do you think”?  We agreed that children probably love them, with a child heroine at the center, as well as all sorts of fascinating creatures like the March Hare, the White Rabbit, the Cheshire Cat, Humpty Dumpty and so forth.

I told her that I once owned an edition of Alice’s Adventures Underground that was Carroll’s hand-written text (photocopied, not the original) with his own illustrations, which he gave to Alice Liddell as a gift.  When the book was professionally published, it was re-titled and illustrated by professional artist John Tenniel — these are the illustrations that are in the memories of most of us, but Carroll’s drawings seem quite good to me.

And by the way, Becca is an accomplished singer\songwriter — all sorts of her YouTube videos are here:

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