In 1862 Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a shy Oxford mathematician with a stammer, created a story about a little girl tumbling down a rabbit hole. Thus began the immortal adventures of Alice, perhaps the most popular heroine in English literature. Countless scholars have tried to define the charm of the Alice books - with those wonderfully eccentric characters the Queen of Hearts, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Cheshire Cat, Mock Turtle, the Mad Hatter et al. - by proclaiming that they really comprise a satire on language, a political allegory, a parody of Victorian childrenâs literature, even a reflection of contemporary ecclesiastical history. Perhaps, as Dodgson might have said, Alice is no more than a dream, a fairy tale about the trials and tribulations of growing up - or down, or all turned round - as seen through the expert eyes of a child.
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