Monday, November 24, 2008

Understanding Alice

One of my first books as a child was the Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tales that were gifted to me by Mama. I grew up with 'Cinderella', 'Sleeping Beauty', 'Beauty and the Beast', 'Thumbelina', 'The Emperor's new clothes', 'Goldilocks' as everyone else. 'Alice in wonderland' was surprisingly one of the last books I read as I entered into teens(before shifting to Enid Blytons). As is usually the case, for three to four years I was so immersed in Enid Blytons that I forgot about all other books existing on this planet- Famous Fives, Mystery Series,Secret Sevens (in short Enid Blytons) were my world at that point of time!

One day after about two years of continual Enid Blytons, (I was bound to get bored some day-even with Julian, Dick, George, Anne and Timmy-lol) I was foraging Mama's cupboard for something (and turning everything upside down for which I remember I got the worst scolding of my life-lolz). Suddenly, I brushed against something that felt like a very old hardcover edition book. Taking it out, I saw Nanaji's stamp on the first page. My curiosity aroused, I turned the pages- it was Alice in Wonderland and Through the looking glass in a full hardcover bound edition (I don't remember the year). I was surprised because mama never kept any books in her cupboard-they were always kept in the library. Uptil then, I had not realized that Alice's adventures were enumerated in a full fledged book by the author and I had always believed that the small edition I had read was the entire story. Suddenly mama came in and when she saw me with her book, she went quiet for some time. Wondering at this silence, I approached her, held her hand and asked her about the book.

She was visibly far away- I got to know later that the book had a lot of sentimental value for her-Nanaji (who died about 22 years ago) had gifted it to her when she stood first in her class at school, '"This book" she said will always remain special for her. Then she explained me the essence of Carrol's masterpiece by speaking the same words that her father had spoken to her all those years back- " It is more enjoyable to read Alice in Wonderland in teens. The appreciation of the book comes better in that age".

I didnot get to read the book till I was 16 when mama(she considers 16 as a milestone in terms of ages) gave it as a gift to me on my birthday. It is still the best birthday gift of my life-to give away something you hold so precious even if to your daughter is not an easy task and I really appreciate her for it.

Well, I began reading the book and let me tell you I was bewitched from the word go! The simple narrative and Alice's activities ( inspite of being somewhat impossible) had'earthly'(there's no other word that I can think of) feel to it.I felt transported right into Alice's world- the innocence of Alice when she exclaims about the injustice of the queen of hearts, the comic situations with the cat and the caterpillar, the unusual tea party, Alice continually getting taller and shorter in height and the unexpected ending really left me spellbound AND all this was not yet over! When I reached the introductory page for THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS part, I remember I was really excited to know that the book was not yet over and I savoured this part with as much relish as the first one. For the first time in my life, I actually understood what a person who lived in a totally different time period was trying to convey when he told his child to read a book at a particular age. I can now be thankful that I was given the right books at the right age by mama and today, all those years later I can totally understand how important that is!

Here's to Alice- enthralling young people for generations to come!


ANWESA said...

it was a journey down memory lanes 4 me,coz i luv alice.lewis caroll,u rock!!(i kno it sounds crazy!!) but i cant help it..

How do we know said...

this is such a warm memory!

RiverSoul said...

You weave magic with ur words.
I loved alice in wonderland. Do so even now and always will.
Interestingly, i happen to have a cloth bound edition of the same, with illustrations.
Its old, and has russian epilogues and interpretations at the end. I'll send u a pic of it someday if i get ur email id.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

And thats what its all abt.
Keep the book safe.
Its a priceless piece of the past.
Ps. Did you read my reply to ur comment and doubt in my Blog's comment page?
Also, my Blog's updated.

Anonymous said...

Anwesa- You don't sound crazy, trust me!I have yet to meet somebody who is not mad over the book(if the book has been read by the person that is). I am mad over it too, isn't this article testimony enough? (lol)

How do we know- where were you for so many days? Really missed your comments on my blog & thank you as always-Yes, it is one the sweetest memories of my life. Hope you have not been bored by the length of the article!:)

River Soul- Thanks a lot for your comment. I will surely give you my mail Id sometime soon-I would love to see the pic and I am just going to your blog-wait for he comment! :)

Pinku said...

very cute post....and we seemed to have read the very same books as children though I must be atleast a decade older than you...shows somethings are timeless...simply.

Sandhya said...

What a wonderful memory, only books can create that magic and you have expressed in in such simple yet beautiful words!

Anonymous said...

Right you are Pinku-some things really are timeless- I am sure for Alice, most of the people can say the same thing

Sandhya-Thanks:-)your comments are always special. My post is really incomplete without them....

Phoenix said...

hey we share similiar tastes when it comes to books we read in childhood... i soo loooove famous fives and secret all of the children's books... i do even now :P

Anonymous said...

Same with me phoenix-I have not stopped reading Enid Blytons either. As someone said here...some things are really timeless!

Saadia said...

Aaaaah, nostalgia! Unfortunately, gone are the day of the Blytons, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews, even of Mario Brothers.

I feel sad for kids today who get to consume some weird Als on cartoon channels. I can't even remember the names (Sazor X? Bakugan? Naruto?) I tried making my 5 year old nephew watch a couple of classics some time back. But thanks to these action-packed nothings he is used to, he had no attention-span for a story, whatsoever. If we love our kids, we need to do something about it.

Anonymous said...

Well, Right Sadia!Welcome to my keep visiting

Just call me 'A' said...

i enjoyed reading alice in wonderland as a kid and every single make believe book that was ever written. i believed in fairies and elfs and goblins and prince and princesses and all that enid blyton and other authors had to offer...i still enjoy revisiting them now and then. so nostalgic and warm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 'A':). Most of the people here commented the same. I think all of us here have a lot in common when it comes to books,don't we?