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Wonderland: Imagination and Words

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
When I think of ‘Wonderland’, I plummet down a dark hole with Alice into a curious land of the small, the tall, talking animals, and other strange oddities. This is the world forever etched in Western culture conjured up by the Rev Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll (1832-1898).
Wonderland: Imagination and Words
Alice and the Pool of Tears (Illustration: John Tenniel)Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland c 1890 W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago

Dodgson was a multi-disciplinary master of his imagination creating an upside down world the Victorians believed in and escaped into. His brain was filled with juxtaposition working in diverse languages of words, numbers and the visual. His wide skill-base included not only that of a writer but also logician, puzzle maker, mathematician, photographer and ordained deacon of the Church of England.It was, or so I thought, that it was with great thanks to Dodgson, the compounding of the words ‘wonder’ (to feel or express great surprise at something or to ask yourself questions) and ‘land’ (a country/particular area of the earth’s surface) found its way into the dictionary however, this is not the case. The earliest known use of this word seemingly is documented in the late 1700s embedded within the writing of ‘P. Pindar’, whoever that was.Delving deeper into the ‘Wonderland’ word where Alice is concerned, I’m not convinced the dictionary definitions of a place full of wonderful things or an imaginary place of delicate beauty or magical charm is totally applicable considering the threads of Grimm’s fairy tale-like unsettling scary episodes throughout the two stories Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Incidents include a near drowning incident, claustrophobic conditions, disorientation, a swarming of bats and an irate Queen of Hearts threating death by head chopping. Therefore, perhaps it might be useful to add to the overall ‘Wonderland’ definition a curious place to question elements of surprise where one can get lost, at times marvel at the twisting of a strangely familiar environment and known reality (however one defines this).Moving on, I began to wonder (see definition of word above) how many editions have been published of the story in question. Well, since November 1865 over 7,500 editions have been published of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland also known as Alice in Wonderland. It has also been translated into nearly two hundred different languages! I have at least four different versions in my own collection including one that was my grandmother’s from the 1890s.Wonderland: Imagination and Words

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland c 1890
W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago

Where there is a popular story, merchandise is sure to follow and Alice in Wonderland is no different. For well over a century, manufacturers have been coming up with all sorts of products to offer ranging from ceramic figures, Christmas ornaments, dollhouse furniture, teapots, toast racks, stuffed toys and games, the list goes on. I am particularly fond of the Misfitz mix and match card game as pictured below.
Wonderland: Imagination and Words

Alice in Wonderland Misfitz Card Game 1900-1925 C W Faulkner & Co Ltd (publisher)V & A Collection, MISC.321-1986

A romp with Alice and her friends is always an adventure. I do hope you’ve enjoyed it. Before we climb out of the rabbit hole and take leave, here’s some poetry and writing from Wonderland and beyond:
Appearing in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Chapter 7 and recited by the Hatter, age ?
Twinkle, twinkle, little batTwinkle, twinkle, little bat!      How I wonder what you’re at!   Up above the world you fly, like a tea-tray in the sky.     
Appearing in The Tower, an elementary school publication, written by Katy Eggleston, age 7
Wonderland: Imagination and Words
Blackout Poetry November 2023, page 167 Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Kate Eggleston-Wirtz, age ?
Wonderland: Imagination and Words

Thank you for reading., 2023. About the book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. Accessed 12 November.
Cambridge Dictionary, 2023. Land. accessed 19 November.
Cambridge Dictionary, 2023. Wonder. accessed 19 November.
Carroll, L., 1890. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. W.B. Conkey Company, Chicago.
Harper, D., 2023. Wonderland (n). accessed 6 Nov 2023.
Victoria and Albert Museum, 2023. Alice in Wonderland Misfitz. Accessed 12 November.

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