Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll by Jenny Woolf

The Mystery of Lewis Carroll
Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful, and Sometimes Lonely Man Who Created "Alice in Wonderland"
by Jenny Woolf

Published: 2010
Genre: Biography
Hardback: 336 pages
Rating: 5

Description from the amazon:
A new biography of Lewis Carroll, just in time for the release of Tim Burton’s all-star Alice in Wonderland.

Lewis Carroll was brilliant, secretive and self contradictory. He reveled in double meanings and puzzles, in his fiction and his life. Jenny Woolf’s The Mystery of Lewis Carroll shines a new light on the creator of Alice In Wonderland and brings to life this fascinating, but sometimes exasperating human being whom some have tried to hide.

Using rarely-seen and recently discovered sources, such as Carroll’s accounts ledger and unpublished correspondence with the “real” Alice’s family, Woolf sets Lewis Carroll firmly in the context of the English Victorian age and answers many intriguing questions about the man who wrote the Alice books, such as:

• Was it Alice or her older sister that caused him to break with the Liddell family?

• How true is the gossip about pedophilia and certain adult women that followed him?

• How true is the “romantic secret” which many think ruined Carroll’s personal life?

• Who caused Carroll major financial trouble and why did Carroll successfully conceal that person’s identity and actions?

Woolf answers these and other questions to bring readers yet another look at one of the most elusive English writers the world has known.

My two-bits:
In-a-word: strangeness

You know the question, which author dead or alive would you want to invite for a dinner party?

Lewis Carroll would most definitely be on my invite list.

This was a fascinating book about a fascinating man. I haven't read any previous Lewis Carroll biographies, so this was all new to me. I liked how all aspects of Lewis was presented which helped create the somewhat complete picture of WHO he was. I say somewhat because the author was not able to totally account for his life due to missing (or destroyed or censored) diaries, journals and letters.

However, the discovery of bank accounts (unaltered) does lend new information on the parts of Carroll's life that are unaccounted for via his missing diaries, etc.

It was interesting to learn of his connections with family, friends, children, religion, math, science, theatre and photography. He even had an interest in the supernatural.

There are more facets of Lewis in the book explored that you must find on your own. After reading the book you will gain an understanding of the mind behind Alice in Wonderland.

Fun to note: at one point, Lewis owned a Velociman
It was an extraordinary contraption, with two large wheels at the front and a small one at the back. It could, it was advertised, travel at six to eight miles per hour. Rather oddly, it was hand-propelled, so must have been intended for invalids. (chapter 10, page 282)

Zombie sighting:
The characters are grotesque, from the misshapen, zombie-like servants to the bizarre quenes who suddenly fall into a dead sleep, one on each of Alice's shoulders.
(Personal Conclusion, page 293)

*** Lewis Carroll Book Giveaway ***

If you haven't already, signup to win this book which ends April 11, 2010.


* giveaway prize
Thanks to Jenny Woolf
Courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Thanks Monica!

* part of Alice in Whatsitland

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