Books, Coursera, Personal Project

Book 310: Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

Carroll, Lewis - Through the Looking GlassI honestly didn’t think I would get back to Alice and her adventures. The first book was so ho-hum that I had no desire to read this one, but this was the second book I read as part of my first short-lived Coursera course. Unfortunately due to entirely way to many commitments and needing to read FOUR books for my 30 x 30 list over the next two months, I just couldn’t give up 10 weeks of reading time. I will most definitely take the course at a later date though!

I definitely found this book less whimsical than the first, which is funny as I’m convinced there are so many more made-up words in this novella. Honestly, I have no idea what it is that made me appreciate this one more. Was it that Alice actually started feeling the pressures of adulthood in this book? Or was it that the doom and gloom of the “chess match” of the looking-glass world spoke to me.

I will say I was blown away at how literary the novel was and how adult-like it was written. The conversations were incredibly mature even though they were silly some of the time. I especially enjoyed Humpty Dumpty’s mention of portmanteau! Perhaps I didn’t give the first book enough credit, but either way I’m not sure I’ll go back and read them, unless it’s part of the Coursera course again.

Recommendation: Definitely read the two together as this one highlights provides an excellent contrast to the whimsy and playfulness of the first.

Opening Line: “One thing was certain, that the WHITE kitten had nothing to do with it:—it was the black kitten’s fault entirely.”

Closing Line:Ever drifting down the stream,
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?” (Whited out.)

Additional Quotes from Through the Looking-Glass
“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said: ‘one CAN’T believe impossible things…’Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’ [said the Red Queen]” (loc.534-5)

“‘I never ask advice about growing,’ Alice said indignantly. ‘Too proud?’ the other inquired. Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. ‘I mean,’ she said ‘that one can’t help growing older.’ ‘ONE can’t, perhaps,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘ but TWO can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.'” (loc. 639)

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’ (loc. 662)

“‘Well, now that we HAVE seen each other,’ said the Unicorn, ‘if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'” (loc. 772)

“Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday—the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the Knight—the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her—the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet—and the black shadows of the forest behind—all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half dream, to the melancholy music of the song.” (loc. 937)


8 thoughts on “Book 310: Through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll”

  1. I love Lewis Carroll’s poetry but I have not read his Alice books. Your review makes me has made me think that I will love the books. If you want real silliness, check out The Hunting of the Snark. There is a story in verse but the characters do bizarre things. Definitely good to read after or before reading Moby-Dick.


  2. I read Alice in Wonderland, but not this one. I read it so long ago, though, that I can’t remember what I thought of it beyond the fact that I liked it. I tried reading it to my daughter a few years ago, but it really was too ‘grown-up’ to keep her interest. It’s kind of like a kid’s book for adults.


  3. I think I read these back to back and now I can’t remember where the first ends and the second begins. I enjoyed the stories, but wasn’t overly wowed by them like many others. However I think watching the Disney movie a million times as a kid may have influenced me.


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