giovedì, giugno 22, 2017

The Alice behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester

A lot of ink has been spent for trying to define the real character of Charles Dodgson, passed at the history for being the creator of a masterpiece like Alice in Wonderland under the name of Lewis Carroll.

But: who was this man?

What kind of connections existed between this writer with the children of family Liddell and other children as well?

Simon Winchester the author of the Professor and the Madman in this latest book The Alice behind Wonderland published by Oxford University Press  will answer these questions and more, looking at this man under a different perspective thanks to a compulsive passion that Dodgson loved to share with the children he loved to being surrounded the most with: the camera.

The book takes inspiration by some pics discovered thanks to an avid collector of Victorian books and materials: Morris Parrish from Philadelphia.
Mr Parrish was a very wealthy man and a student of Princeton. Uninterested to complete his studies, he was a voracious reader and book collector, a passion started by his dad with Charles Dickens' novels.
Parrish was in love with all Victorian literature and writers.
Not only: he read all the books he bought and collected.
He wanted that the books had to be in great condition and the term: "The book is in Parish condition" is still in use by booksellers for saying that books are of great quality.
Sixty-five hundred books were found in his house after his death in 1944 and in an album the picture of the cover of this book: the one of Alice Liddell. Dodgson loved obsessively to portraying children and this one was the little kid inspired him for Alice in Wonderland.

The book is interesting, original and not unidirectional.
Thanks to Mr. Winchester we will discover the fascinating history of the genesis of photography and how this new sport and passion attracted contagiously this young guy, Dodgson and some of other his friends and colleagues as well.
The book doesn't forget a good and informative history  of Dodgson's family, eleven children, just few of them married, sacrifices, the loss of the mother at a tender age, studies and success of this introvert boy.

We will discover that Dodgson loved to portraying children in pictures, spending with them a lot of time, particularly happy when he saw them around, deluded when they, normally, at last, grew up.

Enjoy this book a great portrait in pictures - pity that there is just a picture in the entire book although the description of all the other ones is sumptuous -  of a controversial writer like Lewis Carroll was, author of an immense masterpiece and classic like Alice in Wonderland is and will always be.

I thank Oxford University Press for the physical copy of the book.

Anna Maria Polidori

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