Fairies. Fairy tales. Stories. The Tim Burton movie Alice in Wonderland opens this week. I am usually a “wait til the DVD comes out” kind of gal, but I can hardly wait to see this movie!
I read Alice when I was eight years old and have used it as a reference guide my entire life. The alternate world created by Lewis Carroll has served me well as a sort of handbook to explain the vicissitudes of life.
When I am dealing with difficult or incomprehensible situations, I think to myself. “I have simply fallen down another rabbit hole” or “uh oh, I have wandered through the looking glass” and I look for the clues that will lead me out again. I can’t even list the number of times I have stood with a frozen smile on my face listening to someone who seems to be speaking jabberwocky.
Life, it turns out, is populated with red queens.
They all seem to wield enormous egos and having read Alice in Wonderland at such a tender age, I have always approached these individuals with a cheerful sort of cunning and my inner, instinctive reverse psychology that can be learned between the pages of Lewis Carroll’s funny, twisted, wickedly insightful books.
A.S. Byatt (who is completely brilliant and who is my writing hero and who I don’t even TRY to emulate) says it best in this article which is also a wonderful resource guide for young parents on the brink of guiding their children into a reading life. Her assessment of Alice also seems to suggest that this is a guidebook for life:
As she falls through the earth she doesn’t feel terror, she thinks, she talks to herself and analyses what is happening and may happen. She is prepared to give as good as she gets in arguments with pigeons, caterpillars, frog footmen, smiling cats and red and white queens. Her main emotion is trying to make sense against increasing odds.”
And isn’t that the very best life lesson of all?