Alternative Alices

Carolyn Sigler, Editor University Press of Kentucky $45 (416p) ISBN 978-0-8131-2028-7
""Off with her head!"" The queen would have been furious at this chaotic tea party of an anthology, hosted by an editor who seems to think more of Lewis Carroll's admirers and disciples than of the honoree. To any grownup reader unfamiliar with Carroll's Alice books, Sigler would give the impression that the more socially enlightened and politically correct spin-offs of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were superior to the original. ""Unlike the anxiously polite Alice who, like a good Victorian child, attempts to please and placate adults,"" she comments, Juliana Horatia Ewing's Amelia (of ""Amelia and the Dwarfs"") ""is powerful and aggressive."" In fact she's just plain bad; what makes Ewing's naughty character worth renewed attention is that she's funny. ""`You seem to think things clean and mend themselves, Miss Amelia,' said poor nurse one day. `No, I don't,' said Amelia, rudely. `I think you do them; what are you here for?'"" Amelia isn't the collection's only engaging alter-Alice. Among the 20 selections, written between 1869 and 1930 (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland came out in 1865), Sigler finds several gems: delightful homages, determined imitations and devotional sequels to Carroll's works by E. Nesbit, Tom Hood, Anna M. Richards, E.F. Benson and Charles E. Carryl, among others. Unfortunately, Sigler doesn't always distinguish excerpts from full works; even when one reads a piece that seems complete, one still wonders. Illustrations. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 428 pages - 978-0-8131-0932-9
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-8131-4826-7
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