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Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is a novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells the story of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit-hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar and anthropomorphic creatures.
The tale is filled with allusions to Dodgson's friends (and enemies), and to the lessons that British schoolchildren were expected to memorize. The tale plays with logic in ways that have made the story of lasting popularity with adults as well as children. It is considered to be one of the most characteristic examples of the genre of literary nonsense, and its narrative course and structure has been enormously influential, mainly in the fantasy genre.
Zwerger's (The Wizard of Oz) captivating cover image of the Mad Tea-Party for this edition of Carroll's 1865 tale conveys the psychological tension of the interior artwork: Alice, at the head of an elongated table with a pristine white linen cloth, stares at the pocket watch that the March Hare is about to lower into his cup of tea. The Hare, bug-eyed, gazes out at readers while the Mad Hatter to his right, wearing a hat box, fixates on a black upturned chapeau (in lieu of a place setting), and the Dormouse between them sleeps. Across the table, an empty red mug is placed in front of a vacant green chair, and a teacup and saucer trimmed in red seems to be set for the reader. The painting conveys the way in which Zwerger brilliantly manages both to invite readers into the story and to keep them at a distance. From the heroine's first appearance, as she falls down a well while chasing the White Rabbit, with a glimpse of orderly bookshelves at the upper left corner, Zwerger demonstrates the many layers to Alice's journey: a cutaway view reveals that the bulk of the other "shelves" are the result of rats and insects tunneling underground. The supporting cast conveys the artist's nearly sardonic perspective. The contrary caterpillar, with six of its eight arms crossed, would be at home in New York's East Village: instead of a hookah it smokes a cigarette and sips red wine, yet--unlike Sir John Tenniel's sedated counterpart--this caterpillar is lucid, defiantly staring out at an Alice (and readers) absent from the scene. Zwerger's penetrating interpretation reinvents Carroll's situations and characters and demands a rereading of the text. All ages.