Alice’s Adventures Under Ground
By Lewis Carroll
Published by Librivox
Read by Phil Chenovert
This is actually an early draft of the better known Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. From what I understand, the hand-written manuscript of this draft was found in a journal. It contains many of the memorable scenes from Wonderland, although some of the most loved characters, such as the Cheshire Cat and the Mad Hatter, are missing. The origins of the story come from an incident in 1862 when Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed a boat up the Isis with the three daughters of the vice chancellor of Oxford University, Henry Liddel.
During the trip, Dodgson told the girls a story about a bored little girl named Alice and the story so fascinated the middle daughter (also named Alice) that she asked Dodgson to write it down. He presented the hand-written and manuscript of the novelette complete with hand-drawn sketches inside, to Alice two years later, but even then was working on the expanded story (a short novel) we know today.
I could say the story is so well known by now that I need not give a synopsis, but as it happens I was inspired by this edition to go on to listen to a recording of Wonderland directly afterward and if I describe the story in too much detail I may not have much to say next week.
Both stories follow Alice one quiet afternoon and she follows a talking rabbit down a hole and into a strange fantasy world in which Carroll plays with logic and satirizes well known songs, poems and famous figures of the day. For those fans active in Fantasy and Science Fiction fandom, this is an early example of “Filk” fiction although by no means the earliest. Modern audiences may not realize just what Lewis Carroll is “filking,” but many of the poems are based on common children’s rhymes of the time and many of the characters are based on people the girls he made this up for knew.
Those who have always loved reading Alice’s adventures will want to read this too.
Phil Chenovert reads this story marvelously. There are times I think his reading voice does not quite fit, but those are usually serious stories. The man reads humor and satire perfectly and this is an excellent example of that.
So we have a fascinating look at how Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland evolved and Phil Chenovert’s reading is great way to experience it.