Lewis Carroll

In anticipation of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland coming out on March 5th, the kids started to study the life of Lewis Carroll today.  We started at THIS site with a short biography.  Things we found especially interesting about Carroll were:

· His real name was Charles Dodgson

· He excelled at pretty much everything he tried.  Math, photography, poetry, writing…

· In Math he wrote many short stories that were also logic problems.

· In photography he was an accomplished photographer interested in portraying the human form.  Photography in 1850 was very difficult to master, yet, he did.

· Many of his photos were considered ’of questionable nature’—depicting young girls.

· In writing, he wrote many short stories for magazines/newspapers but never considered them to be ’worth’ much.

· He was ALWAYS looking to make more money.

· He only wrote Alice in Wonderland after Alice Liddell begged him to write down stories he had told her and her sisters when they went on picnics together.

· Many of the myths surrounding Lewis Carroll are based on speculation of his persona through his writings and photography.    Clearly many will disagree on this debate.

After reading the biography and looking at some of his photos, we discussed how people found this photo of Alice Liddell to be ‘suggestive.’  We then compared that photo to the most recent photo of Miley Cyrus taken by Annie Leibovitz.  Think about it...

Miley Cyrus Poses Topless For Vanity Fair

It was VERY interesting to hear the kids perspective on these photos.  We discussed how there is a difference between ‘art’ and ‘non-art’ photos, paintings and sculptures.  We also brought into play how much expressions on faces play into peoples interpretation of art, and how different that can be based on peoples own experiences.  We even talked about the photographer, the use of light and the intention of pictures.  It was a very interesting conversation, and I hope it will spark you guys to have similar convos with your kids!  

Before we move out of the photography realm, I just have to show this picture, and hope you will take a minute to look at these pictures on this site.  I think this picture is absolutely AMAZING.  When you add in the account that photography then was a very long process, it makes me appreciate it even more!!  I could stare at this picture for days.  Visit the site, there is lots to see!

Alice Pleasance Liddell, by Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson), summer 1858 - NPG P991(1) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

The final part of our study was a comparison between what was read in this passage of the short biography site:

The more than an century that has elapsed since then has shown an explosion of the Carroll mythology. Elaborate tales are now told of the how and why of Dodgson's life and mind. He has been presented as paedophile, perpetual child, as scholar-saint as innocent dreamer of children, as a deviant resident in an ivory tower or dreaming spire. But how did these truths get here? Are they any kind of reality? 

Sound familiar?  I asked the kids to think about Michael Jackson.  Really...think about it.  The comparison there is incredible. 

Because I am not a super strong or fast reader...we went to you tube and saw this woman who is reading Alice in Wonderland, original version...very quickly.  VERY QUICKLY!  So, we are listening to this a little everyday.  I also bought the book “Annotated Alice” from Amazon to help explain some of the ‘Carrollisms’ in the book. 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said very gravely. “and go on until you come to the end: then stop.”