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

Nice artwork spawns imitation. And nice bizarre artwork, it appears, spawns nonetheless weirder flights of fancy. Lewis Carroll’s twin youngsters’s fantasies, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, By way of the Trying-Glass, and What Alice Discovered There have each impressed a string of diversifications, inventive and musical responses down the generations.

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

“Collectively these books are actually the primary psychedelic texts and I like them as a result of there’s no ethical lesson. They really parody authority, just like the judiciary and the monarchy, fairly than supporting them,” stated Jake Fior, an Alice knowledgeable and creator of By way of a Trying Glass Darkly.

“Carroll had a particular curiosity within the esoteric. I’ve a list of his possessions, together with his library, and he had heaps of books on the supernatural,” he instructed the Observer.


A detail from one of the sketches in John Tenniel’s previously unpublished illustrations.

A element from one of the sketches in John Tenniel’s beforehand unpublished illustrations.

Fior’s recent 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 consider the construction of By way of the Trying Glass, it’s very bizarre and I at all times felt it could possibly be improved. The concept of going by means of a mirror right into a mirrored dimension is ok, however then immediately there’s this Jabberwocky epic poem and the Vorpal sword and these legendary beasts that are by no means talked about once more. It’s framed as a chess recreation wherein Alice goes from pawn to queen in eight chapters, nevertheless it doesn’t run in a fluid approach like Wonderland. It’s a extra flawed book, but some of the moments are higher, so I stored these in my model.” In the course of the creator’s analysis for his new strategy to the story he found pictures that may now go on public show for the primary time within the V&A present.

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

“It shouldn’t have been there, however I used to be at a uncommon book honest three summers in the past and there it was, nondescript, with simply the phrase ‘costume’ written on the entrance,” remembered Fior. As a pupil Tenniel used to skip his courses on the Royal Academy of Artwork 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.

One other of the illustrations from John Tenniel’s beforehand unpublished sketchbook.

Fior makes use of these pictures in his book simply as Carroll used Tenniel’s work: a dynamic combine of textual content and illustration, which he believes seems to be in the 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 true woman Alice who had impressed Dodgson.

Fior found that he had fashioned the key magical society referred to as The Golden Daybreak, patronised by main literary figures similar to Bram Stoker, E Nesbit and Arthur Conan Doyle, and in addition by the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley.

“There isn’t a proof that Carroll was practising magic, however he was taken with telepathy and was a member of the Society of Psychical Analysis. He additionally had a well-known obsession with wordplay and particularly acrostics, and these come from Hebrew mysticism, which he would in all probability have identified,” stated Fior.

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

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

“The Disney picture has develop into so sturdy, it has nearly effaced Tenniel. However I discover the animated visuals a bit saccharine. I at all times suppose 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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