Commentary on Lewis Carroll

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When asked to transform a literary piece of writing into a whole different form, many things came to mind. I aimed to turn a great piece of literature into something imaginative, interesting yet original. So I sought something that is not seen very frequently- transforming a fairly modern piece of text into something very dated and old. And hence the inspiration to transform ‘Alice in wonderland’ into an epistolary form, and the text that enthused this was Tobias Smollett’s famous novel ‘Humphrey Clinker’, which I shall be using as a style model. The text I’ll be focusing on is a letter written by Matthew Bramble, ‘To Dr Lewis’ about the city Bath, where he goes for treatment. A study of the discourse for my style model helped me to determine the characteristics of the genre. Referred to as satirical writing it is highly critical and minutely disapproving. This contrast to Lewis Carroll’s hilarity appealed to me as an interesting genre of change.

Lewis Carroll employs certain conventions so the conveyance of meaning through language is full of silly nonsense whilst Tobias Smollett wrote his letter in utter seriousness. It has a tone of authority, aristocracy and gravity. But Alice in wonderland on the other hand is full of silly anecdotes and a plot filled with clever wordplay and a highly amusing read for ages big and small. The age gap of each piece is also significant, Alice in Wonderland was written in the 20th century whilst the Humphrey Clinker dates back to the 18th century, thus in turn attitudes and values differ raising different issues.

This transformation proved to be a challenge as I had to adapt to Tobias Smollet’s style of writing. An identical graphology is built so that when one looks at my transformation it looks identical to that of Tobias Smollet’s letter. The chapter heading ‘Dear Dr. Lewis’ is replaced by ‘Dear Lorina’- the supposed sister’s name and the date ‘4th May’ acquired through careful study of ‘Alice in wonderland’: ‘“and perhaps as this is May it won’t be raving mad.”’ “‘What day of the month is it?...Alice considered a little, and then said ‘the forth’.”

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 In the greeting the relation of ‘sister’ is used to in a similar way to how ‘Dear Doctor’ is used. Although the sister’s name is not actually in the book, a study shows that Alice’s character was based on ‘a real girl, , who was the author's child-friend…The older brother and sister were Harry (1848) and Lorina (1849).’1        

The font was also made the same as that used in the novel: Book Antique, so the graphology of my transformation looks dated and old. This helps maintain realistic idea of old English literacy. So at glance a reader can identify it as ...

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