BOOK REVIEW: ALICE’S WONDERLAND: A VISUAL JOURNEY THROUGH LEWIS CARROLL’S MAD AND INCREDIBLE WORLD / AUTHOR: CATHERINE NICHOLS / PUBLISHER: RACE POINT PUBLISHING / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
In the 150 years since the first publication of Alice in Wonderland, it has been used as a source material or inspiration by almost all forms of art and media. Catherine Nichols’ Alice’s Wonderland is a hard-backed, glossy-paged “visual journey through Lewis Carroll’s mad, mad world” that delves into the various ways that Wonderland has been imagined by artists, filmmakers, writers and more.
Following a first chapter that covers the inspiration and creation of the stories, Nichols goes on to describe how others have interpreted Carroll’s work through the ages, starting with John Tenniel’s original illustrations, ranging through everything from computer games to steampunk-style cosplay. There’s barely a stone left unturned, which does mean some adaptations feel somewhat short-changed. For example, Jeff Noon’s Automated Alice gets half a page, while Batman villains named after Carroll’s characters receive a glorious two-page spread.
Despite this, the book works, accomplishing exactly what it sets out to do. Everyone can’t be pleased all of the time, and while some may feel personal favourites aren’t given the detail they deserve, Nichols has packed a fascinating read within these 200 pages. Particularly of interest is the influence Alice has had on popular music, ranging from Beatles lyrics to Tom Petty videos, as well as the plethora of political parodies the book spawned at the start of the twentieth century.
While the text is brief at times, it is always informative and interesting. Being a visual guide, the words are accompanied by an array of illustrations and photographs that chronicle the representations of Carroll’s characters throughout the century and a half they have been in existence, throwing in a few surprises along with the familiar. There are moments when it’s hard to tell if Alice’s Wonderland is a book for enthusiasts or casual readers, but for the most part it treads the line between being both, a guide that is as appealing as the world it wishes to show us.
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