Why is a raven like a writing desk? The answer to this riddle, and many other of the mysterious puzzles in Alice in Wonderland can be found in The Annotated Alice
The Annotated Alice, edited by mathemagician and puzzle boffin Martin Gardner, is the definitive annotated edition of Lewis Carroll’s two masterpieces of children’s literary fiction, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.
This is a vital book for anyone who found the strange world of Tim Burton’s recent Alice film, and the oddball language of The Mad Hatter and the White Rabbit, to be curiouser and curiouser. Gardner turns his inquisitive, analytical eye on Carroll’s Alice tales and, with the help of a global army of Wonderland loving correspondents, illuminates the hidden corners of Caroll’s enchanting, nonsensical universe.
The margins of this 333 page book are peppered with trivia, titbits, and mini-essays which uncover the the truth behind the the most peculiar, puzzling and popular parts of Alice’s journey into the world of the March Hare, The Mad Hatter and the Hookah smoking Caterpillar.
This wonderful, charming book is not such much an enhancement of the original stories as a decade-spanning collaboration between the two eccentric minds of Lewis Carroll and Martin Gardner; it is hard, having read this edition, to imagine reading Carroll blind, without Gardner acting as our intrepid and knowledgeable tour-guide. It really does enrich the reading experience and bring Carroll’s already vivid underworld even more brightly to life.
So if you want to know the grotesque inspiration for the Red Queen, the origins of the Vorpal Sword or how the illogical logic at work in Wonderland came to be, curl up under the covers with a torch and let The Annotated Alice make you grin like a Cheshire Cat.
A new paperback copy of The Annotated Alice retails at £9.99- great value for a lovely looking tome replete with the original Tim Burton-inspiring illustrations by John Tenniel- but you can pick it up cheaper on Amazon Marketplace or at your local Second Hand Book dealer.