Monday, November 9, 2009

Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (recommended)

I just finished Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll.

Through the Looking Glass (TTLG) is the sequel to Alice in Wonderland (AIW).

Playing cards were a major motif in AIW. In the same way, chess was a major motif of TTLG.

Alice needs to move through the 'chessboard' of the countryside. Her goal is to reach the 8th square where she will be promoted from a pawn to a queen. Along the way, Alice meets Tweedledee and Tweedledum, Humpty Dumpty, The Lion and the Unicorn and many other characters.

The chess theme permeates throughout the book. Even at the end, Alice captures the Red Queen, thus checking the Red King. This is never explicitly said but it is implied. Also, the Red Knight threatens Alice and she is rescued by the White Knight.

Both AIW and TTLG were good but between the two, I liked AIW better.

Something that really caught my attention in TTLG was the idea of an alternate world where the rules are different from our own world. To move forward, Alice had to move backwards. To cut a cake, Alice had to distribute the pieces first.

The idea of alternate worlds are a major motif in many fantasy and horror novel. Many of Stephen King books play on the idea of alternate worlds: the Talisman, the Dark Tower series, and the Shining.

An interesting story told by Tweetledumb and Tweetledee is the story of The Walrus and The Carpenter. In this story, the Walrus and the Carpenter trick oysters to follow them. The Walrus and the Carpenter promise them a treat. But at the end of the journey, there is no treat; the Walrus and the Carpenter eats the oysters. I wonder if this Lewis Carroll's commentary on Christianity, especially with the character of the carpenter (Jesus is known as a carpenter.)

Something that I would have liked to hear more about was the Jabberwocky. I think that it would have been an interesting monster. Maybe the Jabberwocky could have chased Alice as she was going through the chessboard creating a lot of confusion with double talk and nonsense talk. But, alas, it was only mentioned in the poem.

Overall, I liked the book. There were lots of great ideas (although, I would have like this book to have been longer and the ideas expanded). I love chess and I loved the allusions this book made to the game that I love so much.
The pacing was quick.
The writing was good.
And the story is outstanding; a classic for a reason.
I recommend this book to anyone who likes Alice in Wonderland (I would recommend this, even if you didn't like Alice in Wonderland).

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