Earlier in the year I made a list of books featured on LOST and started reading through them. I reported on The Chosen and Fahrenheit 451. I liked The Chosen and was not so fond of Fahrenheit 451. I can see why Bradbury is admired and the book widely read. I just didn’t like it so much. I feel much the same about the books on the LOST list I’ve just finished reading, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass both by Lewis Carroll.
True confessions: while I was exposed to some illustrations and excerpts from the Carroll books this is my first time reading them. I’m not 10, so that may explain some of my general indifference to the works. I can see why Carroll’s books are classics: there are some fun games with words, the poetry is amusing, the illustrations are good, some of the characters do amusing things. The thing is, there is no plot. Both the books are framed as dreams. This gives Carroll lots of freedom in the stories. Anything can happen in a dream! Plus, dreams are notorious for vague transitions. The books are full of vague transitions in which Alice finds herself suddenly transported into a new situation. There is a typographical convention for these dream-sequence shifts in the books — a river of ****** mark them. This feels lazy. Instead of producing a plot-driven book with transitions that work, Carroll frames the stories as dreams; transitions can thus be ignored.
I can see why the dreamy quality of the book might be psychologically interesting. I can also see how the dreamy quality of the stories might be appealing if one were on drugs or drunk. I was sober and riding the bus when I read the books. Possibly this added to my indifference. Maybe if I read the books when I was 10 or read them with an 8-year-old, I’d find them more amusing. Ah well, we’ll never know.