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The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition Hardcover – Nov 23 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: WW Norton; Upd Sub edition (Nov. 23 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393048470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393048476
  • Product Dimensions: 22.6 x 2.8 x 26.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #76,577 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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"What is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations!"

Readers who share Alice's taste in books will be more than satisfied with The Annotated Alice, a volume that includes not only pictures and conversations, but a thorough gloss on the text as well. There may be some, like G.K. Chesterton, who abhor the notion of putting Lewis Carroll's masterpiece under a microscope and analyzing it within an inch of its whimsical life. But as Martin Gardner points out in his introduction, so much of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass is composed of private jokes and details of Victorian manners and mores that modern audiences are not likely to catch. Yes, Alice can be enjoyed on its own merits, but The Annotated Alice appeals to the nosy parker in all of us. Thus we learn, for example, that the source of the mouse's tale may have been Alfred Lord Tennyson who "once told Carroll that he had dreamed a lengthy poem about fairies, which began with very long lines, then the lines got shorter and shorter until the poem ended with fifty or sixty lines of two syllables each." And that, contrary to popular belief, the Mad Hatter character was not a parody of then Prime Minister Gladstone, but rather was based on an Oxford furniture dealer named Theophilus Carter.

Gardner's annotations run the gamut from the factual and historical to the speculative and are, in their own way, quite as fascinating as the text they refer to. Occasionally, he even comments on himself, as when he quotes a fellow annotator of Alice, James Kincaid: "The historical context does not call for a gloss but the passage provides an opportunity to point out the ambivalence that may attend the central figure and her desire to grow up." And then follows with a charming riposte: "I thank Mr. Kincaid for supporting my own rambling." There's a lot of information in the margins (indeed, the page is pretty evenly divided between Carroll's text and Gardner's), but the ramblings turn out to be well worth the time. So hand over your old copy of Lewis Carroll's classic to the kids--this Alice in Wonderland is intended entirely for adults. --Alix Wilber

From Library Journal

Clarkson Potter published The Annotated Alice in 1960, and Gardner published the sequel More Annotated Alice in 1990. Here, Gardner combines and expands both to produce The Definitive Edition. This presents the full texts of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and "The Wasp in a Wig," a "suppressed" chapter of Looking-Glass. Each of these texts is accompanied by a lengthy marginal commentary that identifies historical and literary references and allusions, explains Carroll's logical and mathematical puzzles, and interprets colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions. Gardner's commentary is sufficiently detailed to be informative without burdening Alice with excessive pedantic baggage. The Definitive Edition also includes Tenniel's original illustrations and an exhaustive annotated list by David Shaefer of Alice on the screen. This is a happy contribution to those who appreciate Lewis Carroll.
-Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, GA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?" Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 10 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book full of meanings and delightful little side details about Charles Dodgson. This book has the answers to many of your questions about the both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass; why did he do this, what did he mean by this... It also includes secret meanings, such as a name from one of his friends, or he did this because he had O.C.D. Annotated Alice is perfect for research papers (or reading for one's own pleasure) for it gives you some information on verses, his life...all those major details. For example, did you know that most if not all of his poems were a satire on another well-known nursery rhyme or poem. It is easy to tell in the following nursery rhyme what on what poem Carroll made a satire.
Twinkle twinkle little bat
How I wonder what you are at
Up above the world you fly
Like a tea tray in the sky
Twinkle twinkle little bat
How I wonder what you are at
This seems simple enough, but do you know of what rhyme, "Beat Your Baby When He Sneezes" is a parody? The original poem was a song for babies to go to sleep. You will find all this info. and more. Cheers!...
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Format: Hardcover
I remember my frustrations with reading "Alice" when I was young. Apparently it was an interesting story about animals and weird things and so on, but very quickly my reading stumbled onto nonsense verses and things so strange I don't know what to make of them. As a child I quickly lost interest and put down my book, that is until I encountered this wonderful annotated version by Martin Gardiner. Having enjoyed Gardiner's countless mathematical books and Scientific American columns, I was intrigued by this book.
This is a book that actually delivers what it promises. The large format of the book makes it easy to read and pleasing to the eye. The original drawings for the book by Tenniel are included, making it quite interesting. In the wide margins, Gardiner makes clear the countless curiosities, verses, puns, and mathematical oddities. Some of those things were meant to be understood only by a select group of people living in Oxford at the time Lewis Carroll wrote his work. Gardiner therefore draws upon a wealth of research by Alice fans all over the world to come to an understanding of all these oddities. The result is a much more enriching experience and much more pleasurable reading of the story.
At any rate, I don't take the Alice story as seriously as some of the fans do, but I was pleased I read this annotated edition once. I plan to find again my old childhood copy and re-read the story without annotation for enjoyment. Note that the annotated Alice went through various editions, this ("Definitive annotated Alice" being the third, most up-to-date and most complete, including the original illustrations by Tenniel and both sets of annotations in the original "Annotated Alice" and in the "More Annotated Alice". This is the edition to buy.
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Format: Hardcover
I finally, and seemingly permanently, misplaced the 40 year old copy of 'The Annotated Alice' (which I had pilfered from my mother's bookshelf) for the last time. I can't go more than a month or two without it so I rushed to buy a new copy...just weeks before the more beautifully bound 'Definitive Edition' was published. No matter, now I have two (perhaps even three if the original turns up).
My point is that this book contributed more to my understanding of logic and wordplay than several semesters of college philosophy classes. If you've read this far then I am probably preaching to the choir but 'Alice in Wonderland' can hardly be classified as a childrens' book, dispite Disney's attempts to do so. The concepts Lewis Carroll and Martin Gardner bring to this tale cover such areas as set theory, meta-language, Aristotelian logic, topography, game theory, several pre-Socratic logic paradoxes, and even quantum physics. Yet John Tenniel's original illustrations remain as an welcome tether to the original publication.
Gardner does a wonderful job of bringing all the various aspects of these two stories together as he illuminates layer upon layer of meaning that might not be evident to an American audience or, for that matter, a 21st century one. My favorite gems are the French and German translations of The Jabberwocky.
This book ranks in my top five favorite books of all time.
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Format: Hardcover
In the case of Alice, we are dealing with a very curious, complicated form of nonsense, which explores the possibilities of the uses and abuse of language and is actually based on a profound knowledge of the rules of logic. In fact, most of Carroll's apercus and all his joked are inversions of the rules of logic or plays on words. Reason is here in service to imagination and not vice-versa. The wealth of material which Carroll presents for the illumination of his philosophy is almost without end. The more I read Alice, the more I realize the books are dense enough to defy complete exegesis. Carroll's genius lies in the ability to disguise charmingly the seriousness of his concerns and to make the most playful quality of his work at the same time its didactic crux. This annotation version helps by telling us about some aspects of the era and setting that Alice and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson lived in, about Christ Church, and Duckworth etc. but it misses the details about the main points of logic that are being made by Carroll. So far I haven't found a satisfactory text that does that. Perhaps I will have to write one myself.
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