LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Why Alice is with us for the long haul.

on February 13, 2013 1:06pm

What is it about Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland that has entranced people for hundreds of years? It is considered a classic of the children’s literature genre by practically anyone you meet, whether they’ve read the book or just seen an adaptation of it. In class we have discussed that a classic novel must be of a certain quality and if the book has what can be called the nostalgia effect it is more likely to at least be made part of the sentimental cannon. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland certainly has both of these stipulations in spades; even now, years and years after its publication, the story continues to be read. Whether it’s from the influence of parents, other relatives passing the book down to the next generation or if one of the many adaptations of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland inspires a reader to pick up a copy, the love for this book has never died out. And why is that? I think it is because of, despite or maybe because of the overwhelming amount of sheer nonsense, the book on a whole is very relatable, even hundreds of years after its publication.

When your imagination goes rouge.

As a child I would imagine my very own fantasy world with its own special creatures and other fantastic inhabitants where I would explore, play, and for once be in charge. I think this is a fairly common practice among kids, and adults too, so Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland provides us with the delicious question: what if we were dropped into our imaginary world but we were no longer pulling the strings? Everything that before was your creation now acts on its own accord, and sometimes against you. And isn’t that delightful, scary and wonderfully strange? The reader can delve into this complex world of Wonderland with Alice and imagine themselves in her shoes; we feel her frustrations and delights. We can revel in the wonderful nonsense that is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while still being able to relate it to our own lives.

Another aspect of Alice that we enjoy is when Alice is continually confronted with beings that will not explain themselves we can understand the frustration she feels. We have all experienced this exasperation as a child, and sometimes even now, for individuals who refuse to help us make sense of their actions. I’m looking at you elementary school teachers and soccer coaches! This ability for the book to not only invite the reader in but to also draw on their own past imaginings and experiences is what, in my opinion, makes it so powerful.  It transcends it’s time period to remain readable and kid friendly, unlike a few of the other books we’ve read so far, such as The Water Babies.  This continued sponsorship, if you will, of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is a big part of what has made it a classic. It is so well written that despite its age it is still amazingly readable by the average child and adult and their love for the book continues its publication and secures its spot in the cannon.

Basically me as a child, with less jazz instruments.

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