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The Truth Behind Alice in Wonderland and Lewis Carroll

The Truth About Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Blog Post Image
The Catastrophically Classical book club has just started reading "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll in August! This is the perfect opportunity to pick up this free classic novel and enjoy it with a warm and welcoming community of readers.Thanks to the magic of artificial intelligence, Alice herself is visiting the club as one of Fable's reading companions. You can chat with Alice inside the club! Here's how the AI-generated character introduced herself:

"I am Alice, a curious young girl who, by some twist of fate, found herself tumbling down a rabbit hole into the whimsical world of Wonderland. It's rather an enchanting place, full of peculiar characters, nonsensical riddles, and endless adventures. I've always had a fondness for books and their magical ability to transport us to far-off lands and ignite our imaginations."

Read "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland" with a free book club on Fable!

Why is Alice in Wonderland so controversial?

There are tons of rumors surrounding this classic fantasy series, which is responsible for creating the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, and the infamous White Rabbit. Rumors include the author having been under the influence of illicit substances (such as opium) while writing the book and something truly sinister going on beneath all the book's whimsy. But which of those rumors are just that--a rumor? And which of them are true? All questions will be answered in this blog post, so keep reading!

What was the true story behind Alice in Wonderland?

Carroll began his Alice stories when he met real girl named Alice Liddell. While on a boating trip, he told his first story about the fictional Alice.Robert Douglas-Fairhurst wrote about the peculiar friendship between Carroll and Liddell in his book, "The Story of Alice," studying how this relationship stirred Carroll’s imagination and influenced the creation of Wonderland. "This relationship has been heavily studied and scrutinized," explained the YouTube channel Weird History, examining this relationship in this video.

What drug was the author of Alice in Wonderland on?

Many people have circulated the rumor that Lewis Carroll was on drugs while he wrote "Alice in Wonderland." According to multiple sources, however, he was not. HuffPost News reported: "Carroll's diaries make no mention of drugs. We know he occasionally enjoyed a glass of sherry and may have taken the opiate-infused drug Laudanum (readily available to everyone in the 1860s). Other than that, there's nothing connecting Alice and drugs." The wildly colorful and imaginative children's books got people thinking, though the rumors appear to be just that--rumors. So despite the misconception spreading like truth, there is no proof that Carroll ever consumed mind-altering drugs.

Why did Alice and Wonderland get banned?

The Governor of Huan Province banned "Alice in Wonderland" in China in 1931 due to the talking animals: "Animals should not use human language..." They considered it to be an insult to attribute humans and animals as having the same complexities.According to the University of Tulsa Department of Special Collections and University Archives, The novel was frequently challenged for promoting drug use. One of the most controversial scenes is when Alice meets the philosophic caterpillar sitting on a mushroom, smoking hookah. He also gives Alice a piece of the mushroom that alters her size. Such content--a mushroom with body and mind-altering capabilities and a hookah, enraged many academic institutions and religious groups. Their reactions led to the book being banned in the United States in the 1960s.In the early 1900s, New Hampshire banned the book from all public schools to " promote sexual fantasies and masturbation." You can learn more about why this book was banned and challenged here.

What is the deeper meaning and theme of Alice in Wonderland?

One of the central themes in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is the theme of growing up. Lewis Carroll allegedly loved the innocence with which children approached the world. Despite the book being out for over a century, there are still many theories about what the book truly means circulating. This Guardian article details the most popular theories to date: Sex, drugs, jokes, food, and dreams. Carroll has explained that the whole book is a dream, though that is not revealed until the very end. His attempt at creating a dream-like world full of vivid and vague details was wildly successful in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The subject of food and drink is also huge in the book, what with Alice drinking a potion that makes her grow, many creatures in Wonderland who worry about being eaten, and the iconic Hatter's tea party is such a crucial moment. Incredible jokes and puns are scattered throughout the book and written into its very foundation, making it an inherent theme. Many believe the whole book is an allegory for drug use despite no evidence of Carroll trying illicit drugs. Some argue that the theories about sexuality say more about the theorists than Carroll, even though they claim Carroll's various relationships with children say otherwise.

What mental illnesses do Alice in Wonderland characters have? 

Throughout the reading, it becomes known that Little Alice has hallucinations and personality disorders, the White Rabbit suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder, and the Cheshire Cat is schizophrenic. There are various ways these illnesses are displayed in the text, what with the Cheshire Cat distorting reality around him, the White Rabbit being in a constant state of panic, and the Red Queen being completely self-absorbed, suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder.
You can read Alice in Wonderland for FREE on Fable!
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland  by Lewis Carrol  digital book - Fable

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carrol

This timeless classic takes readers through Wonderland, where White Rabbits run late and Cheshire Cats tell riddles. A beloved example of the nonsense genre in fantasy, Lewis Carrol’s classic is available to read for free on Fable.

Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll digital book - Fable

Through the Looking-Glass

By Lewis Carroll

Through the Looking-Glass is a sequel to the wildly popular Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, where Alice finds herself in a mirror image of Wonderland, instead based on a chess board rather than a deck of cards, meeting mirror copies of her old friends.

Discover more banned books to read here on Fable!

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