Source of legend and lyric, reference and conjecture, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is, for most children, pure pleasure in prose. While adults try to decipher Lewis Carroll's putative use of complex mathematical codes in the text, or debate his alleged use of opium, young readers simply dive with Alice through the rabbit hole, pursuing "The dream-child moving through a land / Of wonders wild and new". There they encounter the White Rabbit, the Queen of Hearts, the Mock Turtle and the Mad Hatter, together with a multitude of other characters--extinct, fantastical and commonplace creatures. Alice journeys through this Wonderland, trying to fathom the meaning of her strange experiences. But they turn out to be "curiouser and curiouser", seemingly without moral or sense.
For more than 130 years, children have revelled in the delightfully non-moralistic, non-educational virtues of this classic. In fact, at every turn Alice's new companions scoff at her traditional education. The Mock Turtle, for example, remarks that he took the "regular course" in school: Reeling, Writhing and branches of Arithmetic--Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision. Carroll believed John Tenniel's illustrations were as important as his text. Naturally, Carroll's instincts were good; the masterful drawings, reproduced here, are inextricably tied to the well-loved story. (All ages)