Alice In Space: The Sideways Victorian World Of Lewis Carroll by Gillian Beer

Alice In Space: The Sideways Victorian World Of Lewis Carroll

byGillian Beer

Hardcover | November 30, 2016

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In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll created fantastic worlds that continue to delight and trouble readers of all ages today. Few consider, however, that Carroll conceived his Alice books during the 1860s, a moment of intense intellectual upheaval, as new scientific, linguistic, educational, and mathematical ideas flourished around him and far beyond. Alice in Space reveals the contexts within which the Alice books first lived, bringing back the zest to jokes lost over time and poignancy to hidden references.

Gillian Beer explores Carroll’s work through the speculative gaze of Alice, for whom no authority is unquestioned and everything can speak. Parody and Punch, evolutionary debates, philosophical dialogues, educational works for children, math and logic, manners and rituals, dream theory and childhood studies—all fueled the fireworks. While much has been written about Carroll’s biography and his influence on children’s literature, Beer convincingly shows him at play in the spaces of Victorian cultural and intellectual life, drawing on then-current controversies, reading prodigiously across many fields, and writing on multiple levels to please both children and adults in different ways.

With a welcome combination of learning and lightness, Beer reminds us that Carroll’s books are essentially about curiosity, its risks and pleasures. Along the way, Alice in Space shares Alice’s exceptional ability to spark curiosity in us, too.

About The Author

Gillian Beer is the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature Emerita at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Darwin’s Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot, and Nineteenth-Century Fiction and Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground. Named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1998, she has edit...
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Details & Specs

Title:Alice In Space: The Sideways Victorian World Of Lewis CarrollFormat:HardcoverDimensions:240 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.2 inPublished:November 30, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226041506

ISBN - 13:9780226041506

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Extra Content

Table of Contents


1 Alice in Time
2 “The Faculty of Invention”: Games, Play, and Maths
3 Puns, Punch, and Parody
4 The Dialogues of Alice: Pretending to Be Two People
5 Are You Animal—Vegetable—or Mineral?: Alice’s Identity
6 “Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully
7 Dreaming and Justice
8 Growing and Eating

Selected Bibliography

Editorial Reviews

“While Lewis Carroll’s importance to the history of children’s literature has long been recognized, this book convincingly establishes Carroll and the Alice books at the very heart of Victorian literature and culture. Here we learn how the Alice books engage in active conversations with the ideas of great minds like Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley, Max Müller, John Stuart Mill, and Emily Brontë. Beer brilliantly reveals Carroll to be, like his famous protagonist, always curious, always enquiring.”