Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is textbook whimsy. As far as whimsy goes, you can’t do much better. Lewis Carroll’s the king of whimsy. When he began a sentence, I bet, he didn’t have a plan for how it would end. Following that, when he began a book, such as the Wonderland books, he probably didn’t know what they would be about.
Here are ten quotes of Carroll’s that begin to uncover his completely askew worldview.
1. “‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”
2. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
3. “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.”
4. “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
5. “She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).”
6. “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
7. “‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?….Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
‘No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: ‘What’s the answer?’
‘I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.”
8. “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, ‘Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.’”
9. “Speak in French when you can’t think of the English for a thing.”
10. “As you have invited me, I cannot come, for I have made a rule to decline all invitations; but I will come the next day.”
People have loads of reasons for taking on a pseudonym. Sometimes they’re a woman trying to get ahead in a patriarchy, sometimes they’re an immigrant trying to seem less Other, and sometimes their name just isn’t catchy enough.
These are eleven of the most surprising authors who used pen names. You think you know somebody…
5. Alice Campion, The Painted Sky (Multiple people! Their real names are: Denise Tart, Jane St Vincent Welch, Jane Richards and Jenny Crocker)
6. Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (Real name: Daniel Foe)
7. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Real name: Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski)
8. Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire (Real name: Howard Allen Frances O’Brien)
9. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Real name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
10. George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss (Real name: Mary Anne Evans)
11. John le Carré, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Real name: David John Moore Cornwell)
While you can understand some of the name changes, others are utterly mystifying. Anne Rice’s given name is very masculine sounding, and Voltaire’s pen name makes him sound like a cosmic superhero, so those two make sense. But Daniel Defore? Does the “De” really add that much? I guess he was a big fan of alliteration. Anyway, what would your pen name be?
Many books have been, for various and usually far-fetched reasons banned in certain places. While there are a large number of banned books, the most surprising are some of the children’s books on this list. We all agree that this sort of censorship should never be allowed, especially for some of these children’s books. It’s no coincidence that most banned children’s books are classics.
Take some time to revisit your childhood and read these books you loved as a kid, and probably didn’t know were banned.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, often shortened to Alice in Wonderland, is one of the most popular tales out there. Even if you’ve never read it, you probably know what it’s about. The book was first called into question in the year 1900. In the United States, parents rallied against this book, stating it promotes drug use. Another big objection is the fact that most of the animals can talk, which didn’t sit well with some people. In China it was said that, “Animals should not use human language, and it is disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level.” Honestly, the Cheshire Cat is my favorite fictional animal, but maybe I’m as crazy as he is.
You’ve probably read Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl for school. But this book was banned in several places in the United States. In 1982, it was banned in Virginia, and states continued to ban it. Most recently, Michigan banned the book in 2013. Anne shows amazing courage and determination, and after taking my turn at reading her diary, I strove to be like her. Why was this inspirational book banned? It was deemed too depressing. Really? The story of a girl who was trying to evade capture by Nazis is depressing? Color me surprised!
Okay, I’ll admit, this one may not be so surprising, but it’s still ridiculous. If you haven’t read these books, you’re one of the few. Harry Potter singlehandedly started the reading craze the same year the first book was published. But the books were also banned since the first book was published in several countries including the United States, Greece, and Bulgaria. Why ban such an important book? Well, naturally, because it promotes witchcraft, sets bad examples, and, oh, has a dark undertone. Sorry, but you’ll never get me to denounce the series that changed my life.
Even if you haven’t read this version of the book, everyone’s experienced some form of The Wizard of Oz. This book was banned because people think it has no value for children today. They also think the book perpetuated cowardice, despite the fact that character afflicted by cowardice isn’t actually cowardly. But this book was first banned because it was deemed “ungodly” for portraying woman in strong leadership roles. That was a scary thing in the United States 1929. Talk about cowards!
Roald Dahl is a very famous author, writing many beloved books, none more than this one. That, however, didn’t stop the United States from trying to ban this book in 1971. Dahl described the fun characters of the Oompa Loompas to be “small, black pygmies.” That was deemed to be racist, which horrified Dahl, who meant no harm. He revised their description, but then the character of Charlie, the kind, generous, brave protagonist, was criticized for having no good qualities at a Colorado school in 1988. If Charlie has no good qualities, then there’s no hope for the rest of us, especially those critics, to be good.
Dr. Seuss is one of America’s most beloved authors. His books feature funny characters and are written completely in rhyme, delighting kids. However, the People’s Republic of China banned Green Eggs and Ham in 1965 because of accounts of homosexual secudction. Sam-I-Am was also viewed as a minion for temptation, and the book was said to reflect early Marxist ideas. However, when Dr. Seuss died, the ban was supposedly lifted.
This is perhaps one of the most shocking books on this list. Most of us grew up reading and re-reading Milne’s classic. But remember, talking animals are an insult to God, which put it on the banned list in several countries including Poland and the United States when it first came out. In 2006, Turkey and the UK banned the book because Piglet could be offensive to Muslims. In 2009, Russia, thanks to someone who owned a Pooh plush with a swastika on its body, banned the book since it was perceived to have Nazi ties. Talk about one person ruining it for everyone. Most of all, parents protested because each of the animal characters perfectly embodied one of the seven deadly sins.
If you remember Shel Silverstein, you remember he wrote books of silly poetry. I don’t know about you, but he was the reason I gave poetry a chance. This book was banned in the United States because of one specific poem called How Not to Have to Dry the Dishes. The poem says if you drop the dishes on the ground, perhaps you won’t be asked to dry them anymore. Yes, children are impressionable, but few would try this. Talk about far-fetched!
This book was in every elementary school library for years. How could it not be? It’s a simple, cute book that uses repetition to keep interest. However, for a short period of time in 2010, this book was banned. Why? The Texas Board of Education was eager to ban an author named Bill Martin, who wrote Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. Instead, they accidentally banned Bill Martin Jr., who has no relation to the former, and actually passed away a few years before Bill Martin wrote his Marxism book. See what happens when you jump the gun on censorship?
Sony’s Future Lab has cooked up something special for Lewis Carroll fans. Using their “Interactive Tabletop” technology, Sony has pulled Wonderland from the rabbit hole, and is projecting it on a coffee table near you.
Tap on the highlighted words, and they come to life! / via The Verge
Using a projector and a camera, the Interactive Tabletop lines up with a physical copy of “Alice in Wonderland,” and animates both Lewis Carroll’s whimsical words and John Tenniel’s trippy illustrations. Simply, it’s augmented reality technology applied to books. So lay your copy of “Alice” down, turn on the Interactive Tabletop, and the Cheshire Cat will be purring in no time.
Currently, this technology is still in its R&D stages, but the potential is enormous, particularly concerning books. Animating children’s books is not, in itself, a new idea — think pop-up books. But to animate a physical copy of a book is very exciting. Tapping an unknown word on our Kindle is an easy way to get the definition quickly, but imagine the same could soon be done with any book off your bookshelf.
It has been said that “art begets art.” Never has this been so true than in the case of bands inspired by books!
We’ve compiled some of the best examples of musicians who have written songs about their favorite works of fiction. From Taylor Swift to The Velvet Underground to Kate Bush, here is the bookworm’s essential summer playlist, guaranteed to get you in the mood for some sunny summer reading!
One of Taylor Swift’s most catchy hits is inspired by Shakespeare’s timeless ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ The song tracks the lovers from their first meeting ‘We were both young when I first saw you / I close my eyes and the flashback starts / I’m standing there on a balcony in summer air’ to an imagined happier ending for the famously doomed pair ‘I talked to your dad, go pick out a white dress / It’s a love story, baby just say yes”
Jefferson Airplane’s most famous song, written by frontwoman Grace Slick, was directly inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The children’s classic was read to her often as a child, and every lyric references it. Slick stated that for her following ‘the white rabbit’ meant following her curiosity, and the song became an anthem for 60s psychedelics.
Written when she was just 18 years old, Bush’s song was inspired by Emily Bronte’s haunting tale of love and obsession. The famous lines ‘Heathcliff, it’s me, it’s Cathy, I’ve come home/ I’m so cold/ Let me in at your window’ references the chilling return of Catherine Earnshaw’s ghost. This year, thousands gathered in locations across the globe, on July 15, to imitate Bush’s iconic dress and dancing in the video. That day became coined as The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever.
This emo classic references Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic Ender’s Game. Though the lyrics are vague, there is much discussion online about how they link up to the text of the novel. This song will be a nostalgia trip hard enough to send anyone who listened to it as a teenager flying right back to their youth and their favorite dystopian world.
Bowie’s 1974 track from the album Diamond Dogs was originally written for a staged musical of George Orwell’s 1984 (the musical never came to be). This is not the only song inspired by Orwell’s seminal work; Marilyn Manson, Coldplay, and The Clash are just some of the other artists who have been inspired by it!
Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong was forced to read J.D Salinger’s coming-of-age novel, The Catcher in the Rye, while in school. He was not happy about it. While this book is universally beloved of angsty teens, the fact that he had no choice in reading it enraged Armstrong. Years later, he wrote this song as a tribute to teens feeling apathetic as a result of adult authority. That’s something Holden Caulfield could definitely relate to!
Another Lewis Carroll-inspired hit, this beloved Beatles track references the poem The Walrus and the Carpenter. John Lennon received a letter from a school student saying that his English teacher had been analyzing Beatles lyrics in class. Lennon was so amused by this that he decided to make the lyrics of his next song the most confusing yet. No wonder he turned to Carroll for inspiration!
This dreamy ballad is an ode to J.R.R Tolkien’s epic The Lord of the Rings and was used in the closing credits of the 2003 movie The Return of the King. It’s sung from the point of view of Elvish queen Galadriel and several phrases are taken from the book.
Oscar Wilde’s only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is referenced in this track from the Peter Doherty-fronted indie rock outfit. They use Dorian Gray’s fixation with maintaining his youth at any cost to critique modern day society’s obsession with beauty: ‘all your models in magazines and on the walls/ You wanna be just like them/ Cause they’re so cool/ They’re just narcissists/ Well wouldn’t it be nice to be Dorian Gray?’
This punk classic is inspired by the Stephen King novel appeared in the 1989 movie adaptation. King is a huge Ramones fan and apparently gave Dee Dee Ramone a copy of Pet Cemetary. Ramone, in turn, used to write the lyrics to this hit!
This haunting melody is based on Flannery O’Connor’s short story of the same name about a boy who is brought to a river baptism by his babysitter, and, feeling neglected by his parents, agrees to be baptized when told by the preacher that this will make him ‘count.’
The opening track of Bloc Party’s album A Weekend in the City is inspired by Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. The song pays homage to Easton Ellis’s main character Clay, and many images from the text appear in the lyrics, including the sign “Disappear Here” and the line “people are afraid to merge on the freeways.”
This song, first released in 1967 and sung by frontman Lou Reed, references the two lead characters from Leopold von Sacher-Masoch’s novel of the same name from 1870. The song deals with themes of sexuality and dominance, and it is from von Sacher-Masoch’s name that the term “masochoism” derives. “Venus in Furs” is an iconic song of the 60s and 70s as The Velvet Underground were key players in the music and art scene during that time, hanging out with the likes of Nico, Andy Warhol, and Edie Sedgewick.
This song is a direct reference to Penelope Farmer’s classic 1969 children’s novel of the same name. The titular character Charlotte, when sent to boarding school, discovers she has traveled 40 years into the past and has taken the place of a girl called Clare. Frontman Robert Smith claimed this novel was the most direct literary influence on the band.
Written for Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 adaptation of F. Scott FitzGerald’s beloved novel The Great Gatsby, this song references some of the key images in the text, including Daisy’s yellow dress and the green light of the lighthouse across the bay. Florence Welch frequently talks about the impact that literature has had on her music. According to her band’s fan club site, she even hosts a monthly book club for fans called “Between Two Books!”
Featured images courtesy of Film Forum and Plan Wallpaper.