Monday, December 3, 2007

The Annotated Alice

Author: Lewis Carroll, with notes by Martin Gardner

First line: Let it be said at once that there is something preposterous about an annotated Alice.

Why you should read this book: Lewis Carroll, an Oxford don with a predilection for mathematical riddles and a happy talent for poetic parody, wrote layers of meaning into the Alice books. At the same time, readers have imposed their own reality on the stories, and this book helps demystify the secrets the author may or may not have meant to impart as he wove sense into nonsense and vice versa. Explained here are the literary predecessors of multiple references, the bases of jokes about historical and cultural memes of the time, and even the workings of the real life chess game that takes place in the second book.

Why you shouldn't read this book: You revel in nonsense.