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Can anyone give me a short biography on Lewis Carroll, as well as a short summary of...

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mystical2006 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM via web

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Can anyone give me a short biography on Lewis Carroll, as well as a short summary of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

 

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted February 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM (Answer #1)

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I can tell you about Lewis Carroll which is the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.  He was a Reverend and had translated his names into Latin and then reversed them in order to have a pen name.  He was supposed to have been quite intelligent and inventive.

Carroll was the oldest of eleven children.  He loved to invent games and when he was a teen-ager he developed and edited his own magazines which consisted of riddles, witty words, and rhymes.  He was also an excellent portrait photographer.

Carroll was a shy and quiet man who had a stammer when he spoke.  He adored females and liked their humor and sensitivity.  One of his friends was named Alice Liddell.  Carroll, Alice, and her two sisters went on a boating outing where he made up the story of "Alice's Adventures Underground." 

After gaining fame as a writer, the mathematics college professor, had a personal audience with Queen Victoria.  His writing is remembered for changing children's literature from the boring morality tales of the era to witty and silly fun adventures. 

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted February 19, 2010 at 12:21 PM (Answer #2)

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One of the basic elements is a journey from the security of home out into regions of conflict and danger. When Carroll precipitated Alice “straight down a rabbit hole . . . without the least idea what was to happen afterwards” he launched her and his readers on a curiously epic adventure. Curious because of the tiny rabbit hole, the funny falling, the safe landing, the inverted or at least vertically tilted version of Arthurian medieval chases after a Questing Beast. Epic because Carroll has linked Alice’s adventure to that of the human race, as represented in the Judeo-Christian tradition. felix culpa or “fortunate fall.” But it is a literal fall that leads her to a garden, not out from it. Moreover, what she eats enables her (eventually) to get into the garden, not get banished from it. eing constrained by “normal” ways of thinking. When Alice falls and doesn’t hit the ground right away, it could be because she is falling slowly, rather than falling far. When she drinks and grows smaller, it seems logical that she might eat and grow larger. Reversibility is a key element in Wonderland, whether it is verbal (“Do cats eat bats?” “Do bats eat cats?”) or physical (opening and shutting like a telescope) or narrative (first the fall, then the eating, then the garden). If Adam and Eve fall into knowledge (of sexuality, of difference, of alienation from each other, God, and the Garden), Alice falls into perplexity and wonder. Hers is no clear progress from light to darkness, or, as in spiritual autobiography, from darkness to light. Instead, she must try to make sense of the strangely mundane, the mundanely strange aspects of Wonderland. One might ask students if Carroll’s sense of her confused perceptual and moral “education” is not finally more “realistic” than that presented in conventional literature. t is recited by Alice at the command of the Caterpillar, who afterwards comments that “it is wrong from beginning to end.” In place of sententious moral instruction, the poem views old age as vigorous, fantastic, and foolish. Because it comes from Alice herself, it shows how her inner world has become as topsy-turvy as her outer one. We learn not only that received wisdom and school lessons can be undone by Wonderland experience, but also how implanted structures help create new ideas and images. In this regard, Carroll is anticipating some of Freud’s work on how dreams are generated. In Victorian times as now, children were taught to love animals that they sooner or later found on their dinner plates. By anthropomorphizing the food (“Their coats were brushed, their faces washed, / Their shoes were clean and neat”), Carroll brings together these two aspects of childhood education, the cuteness and the consumption. As we and Alice learn later from Humpty Dumpty: “Twas brillig. . . .” means that it is the hour for “broiling things.” 

The poems play an important role in this grappling with the unknown. Like the fall down the rabbit hole, they contain familiar components, but keep coming out “wrong.”  

Carroll, born Charles Dodgson, was a great literary mind in borth writing and mathematics. He never married, and enjoyed taking photos of children, as an enduring figure in both children's and the adult's literary world.  

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