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Carroll Catholic ControversyAs a Roman Catholic, I was greatly disturbed and...

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 1, 2010 at 10:05 PM via web

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Carroll Catholic Controversy

As a Roman Catholic, I was greatly disturbed and offended by the controversial interpretation of Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland described in a recent post:  http://www.enotes.com/lewis-carroll/q-and-a/how-lewis-carroll-s-christian-life-reflected-his-24013  My research has only turned up evidence that Carroll wrote Alice in the "literary nonsense" genre, writing it particularly for children.  Enotes reports that it has become one of "the most analyzed books of all time."  However, I am absolutely NOT an expert, so I would love for my colleagues to expand on this.  Since no source was given, could this simply be referring to someone's thesis on the subject? ... or was this interpretation authenticated by Carroll himself?  The former, I can brush off.  The latter?  Hmmmm, not so much.

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tseames | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 2, 2010 at 6:04 PM (Answer #3)

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Of course it wasn't authenticated by Carroll himself.  If any one could legitimately ask Carroll, there would be no further discussion.

The problem with authenticating anything anymore is an insurmountable amount of information. My 10 year old can type in "How is Lewis Carroll's Christian life depicted in Alice's Adventures" on a Google search and come up with over 500,000 hits.

My response is totally a theory that was triggered by the question itself.  I actually had never even thought about how his Christian Life was reflected in the story. I went into my den and pulled out my other Carroll books to begin re-reading them to see if there really is anything to my theory.

As far as reading into any and every piece of literature the most absurd and outlandish things is quite a far fetched comment. It is not absurd nor outlandish that a British author make a commentary on the Church or its followers. If you think that this is an absurd gesture on the part of any British author, you had better take a closer look!

In no way did I malign Lewis Carroll's character (that was done with the commentary on Carroll's affections for little girls). It is often noted that the book was written in the resemblance of the daughter of a good friend of Carroll's.

I simply stated that there are multiple connections with the actions and characters within the story that could align with one's opinions on the Church.

I am a Roman Catholic as well! It is due to my practicing Catholicism for 40 years that I can comment on these associations. It is also practical that after studying British Literature and the effects of the Church on Great Britain (dating back to the Roman Empire's reign there) that I can theorize in regards to this topic.

 

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 5, 2010 at 2:16 PM (Answer #4)

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I think this is a perfect example of how we need to remember that there are a myriad number of views about texts such as this one and in a sense whilst we can be aware of some of these views at the end of the day what is most important is what we take from such texts and how we interpret them. I remember studying the poetry of Christina Rossetti and getting really annoyed with my lecturer for (as I saw it) imposing a Freudian critical view on Christian poetry, but in the end I had to see it as an academic exercise that did not diminish the importance of her poetry for me as an English Student or a Christian. There are so many views out there, but it is important to remember that there is never going to be "one" view of such texts, giving us the ability to leave others to their way of looking at literature, after of course thinking about whether there is anything we can learn from it.

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted July 5, 2010 at 6:37 PM (Answer #5)

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Thank you so much for each and every post!  Lots of food for thought here! . . . just what eNotes is all about!  : )

Noelle Thompson

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amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 2, 2010 at 4:19 PM (Answer #2)

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I doubt seriously that this interpretation was authenticated by Carroll himself.  I agree with you, that the  research I have done on Carroll simply points to fantasy for the purpose of engaging the imaginations of children and adults alike.  I have also found, however, more disturbing research that parallels Carroll's life to Michael Jackson's...that Carroll had perhaps an unhealthy love of children, with special regard to little girls.  In the research to which I am referring (link below), the author suggests that Carroll might have been anything from mentally and emotionally immature to being a rampant pedophile.  http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/carroll/dreamchild/dreamchild1.html

However, you must realize that people will read into any and every piece of literature the most absurd and outlandish things, and as long as they can point to something within the text to "prove" and support, they are able to get published...the real goal for many, not the actual maligning of an author's character.

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