Dark side of wonderland: ahead of V&A show, book explores Alice’s occult link


Great artwork spawns imitation. And nice bizarre artwork, it appears, spawns nonetheless weirder flights of fancy. Lewis Carroll’s twin kids’s fantasies, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There have each impressed a string of diversifications, creative and musical responses down the generations.

Now, because the Victoria & Albert Museum prepares to rejoice Alice and her cultural affect in Curiouser & Curiouser, a landmark exhibition subsequent month, a brand new book containing unseen authentic photos is to reveal the secrets and techniques behind the darker world of the second Alice story.

“Together these books are really the first psychedelic texts and I like them because there’s no moral lesson. They actually parody authority, like the judiciary and the monarchy, rather than supporting them,” stated Jake Fior, an Alice skilled and creator of Through a Looking Glass Darkly.

“Carroll had a definite interest in the esoteric. I have a catalogue of his possessions, including his library, and he had lots of books on the supernatural,” he instructed the Observer.

A element from one of the sketches in John Tenniel’s beforehand unpublished illustrations.

Fior’s contemporary model of Alice’s journey makes an attempt to elaborate and even enhance upon Carroll’s tough follow-up work, 150 years on from its publication.

“If you think about the structure of Through the Looking Glass, it’s very weird and I always felt it could be improved. The idea of going through a mirror into a reflected dimension is fine, but then suddenly there is this Jabberwocky epic poem and the Vorpal sword and these mythical beasts which are never mentioned again. It is framed as a chess game in which Alice goes from pawn to queen in eight chapters, but it doesn’t run in a fluid way like Wonderland. It is a more flawed book, yet some of the moments are better, so I kept those in my version.” During the creator’s analysis for his new method to the story he found photos that can now go on public show for the primary time within the V&A present.

Fior, who’s the proprietor of the Alice via the Looking Glass store within the West End of London, was already the proprietor of a number of authentic items of Carroll memorabilia when he got here throughout a sketch book that had belonged to Carroll’s well-known original illustrator, Sir John Tenniel.

“It shouldn’t have been there, but I was at a rare book fair three summers ago and there it was, nondescript, with just the word ‘costume’ written on the front,” remembered Fior. As a pupil Tenniel used to skip his lessons on the Royal Academy of Art and take his sketch books to the British Museum as an alternative. This book was full of research of armour and knights, prototypes of the pictures he went on to make use of within the Alice books.

Another of the illustrations from John Tenniel’s previously unpublished sketchbook.
Another of the illustrations from John Tenniel’s beforehand unpublished sketchbook.

Fior makes use of these photos in his book simply as Carroll used Tenniel’s work: a dynamic combine of textual content and illustration, which he believes appears to be like in direction of the arrival of the graphic novel. Fior’s story tells, in parallel with Alice’s journey, the true story of Samuel Liddell Mathers, a distant relative of the actual woman Alice who had impressed Dodgson.

Fior found that he had shaped the key magical society often known as The Golden Dawn, patronised by main literary figures corresponding to Bram Stoker, E Nesbit and Arthur Conan Doyle, and likewise by the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley.

“There is no evidence that Carroll was practising magic, but he was interested in telepathy and was a member of the Society of Psychical Research. He also had a well known obsession with wordplay and especially acrostics, and these come from Hebrew mysticism, which he would probably have known,” stated Fior.

While engaged on the book he discovered that though Carroll was not a Freemason, the Liddell household have been very concerned within the organisation.

The V&A exhibition, Fior suggests, shall be a great alternative for followers to return to the darker side of the tales, one thing that the Disney cartoon model has virtually obliterated.

“The Disney image has become so strong, it has almost effaced Tenniel. But I find the animated visuals a bit saccharine. I always think of the phrase from Anthony Burgess’s Clockwork Orange “weak tea, new brewed” versus the Tenniel which is full power, with no sugar.”



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