Book Review: Through The Looking Glass And What Alice Found There


Book Review: Through The Looking Glass | Tea And Beauty

I am a massive Alice In Wonderland fan but this book I actually had never read before so I was really looking forward to reading this one. I have read the first Alice In Wonderland book and absolutely loved it.

The themes and settings of Through the Looking-Glass make it a kind of mirror image of Wonderland the first book begins outdoors, in the warm month of May, and the second opens indoors on a snowy, wintry night exactly six months later, on 4 November uses frequent changes in time and spatial directions, and draws on the imagery of chess. In it, there are many mirror themes, including opposites, time running backwards, and so on.
The White Queen offers to hire Alice as her lady's maid and to pay her "Twopence a week, and jam every other day." Alice says that she doesn't want any jam today, and the Queen tells her: "You couldn't have it if you did want it. The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday- but never jam to-day." This is a reference to the rule in Latin that the word iam or jam meaning now in the sense of already or at that time cannot be used to describe now in the present, which is nunc in Latin. Jam is therefore never available today.
Whereas the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, this book is based on a game of chess, played on a giant chessboard with fields for squares. Most main characters in the story are represented by a chess piece or animals, with Alice herself being a pawn.
The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks or streams, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a notable change in the scene and action of the story: the brooks represent the divisions between squares on the chessboard, and Alice's crossing of them signifies advancing of her piece one square. Furthermore, since the brook-crossings do not always correspond to the beginning and ends of chapters, most editions of the book visually represent the crossings by breaking the text with several lines of asterisks ( * * * ). The sequence of moves (white and red) is not always followed.
Lewis Carroll decided to suppress a scene involving what was described as "a wasp in a wig" (possibly a play on the commonplace expression "bee in the bonnet"). It has been suggested in a biography by Carroll's nephew, Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, that one of the reasons for this suppression was due to the suggestion of his illustrator, John Tenniel. In a letter to Carroll, dated 1 June 1870, Tenniel wrote:
...I am bound to say that the 'wasp' chapter doesn't interest me in the least, and I can't see my way to a picture. If you want to shorten the book, I can't help thinking – with all submission – that there is your opportunity.
For many years no one had any idea what this missing section was or whether it had survived. In 1974, a document purporting to be the galley proofs of the missing section was sold at Sotheby's; the catalogue description read, in part, that "The proofs were bought at the sale of the author's ... personal effects ... Oxford, 1898...". The bid was won by John Fleming, a Manhattan book dealer. The winning bid was £1,700. 
The rediscovered section describes Alice's encounter with a wasp wearing a yellow wig, and includes a full previously unpublished poem. If included in the book, it would have followed, or been included at the end of, chapter 8 – the chapter featuring the encounter with the White Knight. The discovery is generally accepted as genuine, but the proofs have yet to receive any physical examination to establish age and authenticity.


My Review

Now I'm going to be honest, I wasn't overly impressed with this one, I love the first book and had high hopes for Through The Looking Glass. It was a bit of a struggle to get through, the great thing about the first book is the silliness and fun of it, and even though you can see that Lewis Carroll tried doing the same thing with this book, it just didn't work out that way. 
It was actually quite boring, there were a lot of poems in there that you just couldn't understand and didn't make sense in any way. The story was supposed to be that Alice was playing chess so she could be queen, but you completely forget all that for half of the book as it doesn't seem to focus on that so much. You came across a few of the characters that you see in the Disney film and some new characters.  

It was actually quite confusing at times as well, I unfortunately didn't have the same excitement reading it as Alice felt. We meet new characters as I mentioned before but to be honest they didn't really make much sense, like Humpty Dumpty who just talked complete nonsense and a sheep shopkeeper that sells eggs, and the more you buy the less expensive they are. 
It felt more like short stories as there felt like there wasn't any particular plot going on really. 
When people talk about Alice In Wonderland do they talk about the queen of hearts or the red queen? Humpty Dumpty or the cheshire cat? I do feel that the first book was so good and this just feels like quite a bad sequel. Alice In Wonderland was fun, silly nonsense, this one was just pure nonsense I couldn't really get my head around. I was very disappointed after finishing this one.

Have you read this book, what did you think?  Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.



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