Lewis Carroll

Like Edgar Allen Poe, Lewis Carroll's books are too-often critiqued in the context of his private life. Highly intelligent, talented, and socially ambitious, Carroll's romantic inclinations were rumored to lean toward very young girls, who were one of his favorite subjects to photograph. There is no proof that he consummated any of these relationships, but his close friendships with the opposite sex (of all ages) were heavily whispered about in Victorian society. At thirty-one he reportedly proposed an eventual marriage between himself and eleven-year-old Alice Liddell, the girl for whom he wrote Alice in Wonderland, and was (thankfully) rejected by her parents. Carroll's personal life continued to raise eyebrows until his death of pneumonia at 65, and the facts of his life story remain a hotly debated topic amongst literary scholars.

While all this sizzling Victorian gossip is certainly interesting, Carroll's books should be judged on their own merits. Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, Sylvie and Bruno, and Carroll's collections of puzzles, riddles, and poetry are some of the most complex, creative, and cheerfully bizarre books in the English language. This was a man who managed to make reading about math downright entertaining, so don't miss out.

Note: Skip the Disney movie. In fact, you can usually assume that I'll suggest skipping the Disney movie versions of any Wordcandy books.

Note #2: I own Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice, with John Tenniel's original illustrations, the Dover Thrift edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and the recently re-released Ralph Steadman-illustrated Alice in Wonderland. The Gardner version is amazing, but even if you prefer the Steadman version, you should pick up a Dover Thrift edition (one dollar!) so you'll have a copy of the Tenniel illustrations as well. And remember that Through the Looking Glass is not part of Wonderland, so if you're looking for "Jabberwocky" or the Tweedledum and Tweedledee part, be sure to get a copy that includes both stories.

Just the creepy personal stuff mentioned above.

Anywhere. If you see one of the collections of his math riddles and poetry, snatch them up.

(Availability Note: While we here at Wordcandy always encourage you to buy books (in fact, buy them through us! We're a very worthy cause!) we understand that sometimes, alas, one is flat broke. If that's the case, you can read copies of some or all of this author's books at this fine site for FREE.)

Other Recommendations:
The Phantom Tollbooth and The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, by Norton Juster

Anything by Roald Dahl

Anything by Daniel Pinkwater
Posted by: Julia


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