A story of a little girl’s adventure down a rabbit hole in a place called Wonderland, who eats strange mushrooms, drinks poison and a giant caterpillar smokes a hookah, must be about drugs; right?.
It might surprise some more than others, but people began to notice an underlying drug theme in Carroll’s work around the 1960’s. Sure it might have something to do with a little girl meeting the Queen of Hearts after talking with a white rabbit with a pocket watch, or playing croquet with flamingos. And hey; this was a time when opium was completely legal, and often sold as a cure-all. Or perhaps it was something in these stories that resonated with popular culture in the 60s, 70s and 80s, a time when LSD was becoming widely circulated. The surreal nature of the texts can without a doubt be interpreted in this way. But was this the intention of the author? Or was it a product of times?
Richard Jenkyns, professor at Oxford University, called Alice in Wonderland “probably the most purely child-centered book ever written”. Why? It’s nonsense number 1; but more importantly Lewis Carroll’s motive when he wrote the book was to humor and entertain, and Jenkyns say’s that its only purpose “is to give pleasure”. Put simply, the genesis of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was an afternoon boat trip spent telling amusing stories and having fun. Not smoking a blunt with his mates. Of course, we will never know the true intentions of Carroll, and perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. The interpretation of a story is not set in stone, rather can evolve over time. The journey of Alice through the ages may twisted and changed to suit our needs at the time. But at it’s core, to me, it will remain a simply awesome adventure through the imagination.
It is hard for us living in this age of modern technology to imagine life 150 years ago. It doesn’t seem that long, but it was a different world. How many people do you know today that would spend 2 years handwriting and illustrating a story book for a child friend? In my opinion, Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland to entertain; not about his journey through addiction. For those of you that now have the original version in your hands, or have read the story online is it an innocent children’s story; or something more? Let us know what you think in the comments.