Through the Looking-Glass
If you've read and loved Alice in Wonderland, you wouldn't want to miss reading about her further adventures, the strange and fantastical creatures she meets and the delightful style and word-play that made the first book so appealing. Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll is thematically much more structured and cleverly constructed as compared to the earlier Alice book but still retains its childhood elements of wonder, curiosity and imagination.
Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a gifted mathematics professor at Oxford during the late 19th century. He suffered from lifelong shyness, a debilitating stammer and several physical deformities including partial deafness. Awkward and uncomfortable with adults, he bloomed in the company of children and had a special insight into their world. He portrays Alice as a well-mannered child, brought up in a privileged background. Based on a real little girl whose father was also at Oxford during the time Dodgson was there, Alice and her sisters formed the inspiration for these books which went on to be ranked among the best loved in children's literature.
Through the Looking-Glass takes Alice through the mirror hanging on her nursery wall into a realm beyond. Here she finds a mirror image of her own world, but with everything reversed. Books with printing that can only be read when held up to a mirror, animated chess-pieces, memorable characters from nursery-rhymes like Humpty Dumpty, The Lion and the Unicorn, Tweedledum and Tweedledee and a host of strange creatures with even stranger names like the Jabberwock and the Bandersnatch. The Red Queen, the White Queen and the White Knight are other characters who populate the looking-glass world. Poems like Jabberwocky explore the limits of language, while the Walrus and the Carpenter are simply hilarious.
Chess forms the framework of the plot, the mirror-world is made up of squares which Alice moves through sequentially in pawn-like moves, symbolizing the dominance of fate in our lives. Funny poems and delightful turns of phrase that Lewis Carroll is justly famous for, continue to sparkle in this book too. The dream-like quality is retained in Through the Looking-Glass, with abrupt changes in location and characters. In the years that followed their publication, Lewis Carroll's books have been intensely studied by literary critics, psychologists, mathematicians and chess enthusiasts. Yet despite all the analysis and study, Through the Looking-Glass remains a charming and innocent portrayal of childhood imagination and creativity.
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