Monday, March 01, 2010


A Week of Alice: Robert Ingpen

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll
Illustrated by Robert Ingpen

The first impression from this thick, large-ish hardcover is that it gives ample weight to the classic. The pages are nice, thick, matte stock, and the background is often completely tinted with the spreading of the painting's background underlaying the text. From this design standpoint, it's a lovely edition. I also like the notes at the back about the origin of the story, including a couple of reproduced pages from Carroll's original Alice's Adventures Under Ground, and about Tenniel himself and his iconic illustrations.

The choices of scenes to illustrate deviate little from Tenniel's original, as is typical, though there are extra bits here, with this being so thoroughly illustrated, some of which are quite interesting.

The overall impression from the paintings and drawings is that they are composed to tiny little strokes of pen and brush that gives them the fuzzy, hazy quality of a dream or distant memory, maybe one from a golden summer afternoon, which fits beautifully with the story's origin. The animals are all lovely, and rendered with much more loving detail than the humans, adn even the Cheshire Cat is adorably creepy, while the White Rabbit seems more worried here than scatterbrained.

And the people? The people tend to be running to fat and look rather sad, even when they also look pompous, as the Queen does, or somewhat jolly, like the Mad Hatter, who could be modeled on Gene Wilder, or perhaps bears a touch of Dudley Moore about him, too.

Alice, even, if a more sombre little girl than usual, and more little than she often is, too, more childlike. She is darker-haired, sleeveless, thin and a little scraggly-looking in many pictures. Indeed, she is something of a little ragamuffin, more than a well-scrubbed little Victorian miss. By the time the cards have turned to golden leaves in the air (a nice new touch, I thought) and she is returned to the riverbank with her sister, she looks almost as though she has been, perhaps, chasing rabbits through the fields and down their holes...

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