Saturday, March 19, 2022

Quote of the Day (Lewis Carroll, As the Cheshire Cat Opines on Directions and Sanity)

[Alice] “was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.

“The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had VERY long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

“'Cheshire Puss,' she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. 'Come, it's pleased so far,' thought Alice, and she went on. 'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

“'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

“'I don't much care where--' said Alice.

“'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

“'--so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.

“'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough.'

“Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. 'What sort of people live about here?'

“'In THAT direction,' the Cat said, waving its right paw round, 'lives a Hatter: and in THAT direction,' waving the other paw, 'lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad.'

“'But I don't want to go among mad people,' Alice remarked.

“'Oh, you can't help that,' said the Cat: 'we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.'

“'How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

“'You must be,' said the Cat, `or you wouldn't have come here.'”— English author, illustrator, mathematician, photographer, and teacher Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a.k.a. Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

This past week, a writer’s group submission by a prolific and accomplished playwright, Jim, alluded to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in its own delightful satire. After guffawing all the way through, I hunted down my copy of Lewis Carroll’s classic.

Midway through the Victorian Era, Alice amused readers through its whimsical depiction of eccentric characters (including the anthropomorphic Cheshire Cat). These days, it can strike people like me as a future glimpse at an age—such as ours—when absurdity edges closer to reality.

The image accompanying this post is one of the drawings from the original edition of the book by the English illustrator, graphic humorist and political cartoonist Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914).

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