The Annotated Alice: 150th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
Edited by Martin Gardner. Edited and expanded by Mark Burstein
Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice has gone through several incarnations since it was first published in 1960. This latest version, which ties in with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland, includes new annotations that Gardner made in the years before his death in 2010. The classic Tenniel illustrations are supplemented by gorgeous illustrations by other artists from the 19th century to our own, many in color. Various appendices cover such topics as film adaptations of the Alice books. In short, this is a must for every Lewis Carroll fan, even if, as I do, you already own all the earlier editions.
On rereading Gardner’s notes, I was struck by how scrupulous he is in crediting the contributions of others, many of them members of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, as I learned from concurrently reading A Bouquet for the Gardener: Martin Gardner Remembered, a collection of mostly brief appreciations published by the LCSNA in 2011. Somewhere in this tribute volume someone comments that Gardner avoided annotating anything unpleasant, such as Carroll’s social snobbery. It then suddenly struck me that there’s no annotation for death by beheading. After all, the Queen of Hearts is practically defined by her shouts of “Off with his head!” No doubt there’s a rich history of this form of execution, particularly during Tudor times, but the reader must look elsewhere for such information.
The most substantive pieces in A Bouquet for the Gardener are “Editing Martin” by Robert Weil, Gardner’s editor at W.W. Norton, and “Dr. Matrix in Oz” by Michael Patrick Hearn, the compiler of The Annotated Wizard of Oz. Hearn’s extended essay provides an unforgettable glimpse of Gardner’s home life in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., where he lived with his family during the period he was writing the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American. One visit led to an invitation from Gardner’s wife, Charlotte, to stay for dinner. When Hearn admitted he was a vegetarian, the unworldly Gardner went out and got his guest a pizza, but returned with the pizza box under his arm. Fortunately, Charlotte was able to rearrange the cheese that had run down the side of the pie. Later, at the dinner table, Gardner’s younger son, Tom, then a teenager, had an argument with his mother that left her in tears. “Oh, Tom, now you’ve made your mother cry,” said Gardner. “There was no rebuke in his voice—just deep disappointment,” notes Hearn. I found it reassuring to learn that Martin Gardner, who led such an enviable life of the mind, was like the rest of us, no stranger to the unpleasantness of family conflict.