The Afterlife of Alice In Wonderland Exhibit: The Many Reincarnations of Alice

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Exhibit Overview: Alice Ever After

Lewis Carroll Biography

Early Editions

Early Illustrators

Adaptations

Reincarnations

Alternative Alices

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Alice Digital Collection

    Morrell's Alice, Tea PartyIt is quite likely that every year since 1907, when the British copyright expired, at least one newly illustrated version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been published.  Some of them are quite mundane and cheaply produced, printed on paper that is crumbling and images that are already fading.  Some of them are quite memorable, with stunning illustrations by well-known artists, printed on high quality paper and bound in fine decorated or embossed covers creating limited deluxe editions. Three of the exhibit cases contain examples of books published since the early twentieth century, including both the ordinary and the exquisite.

The highlight of this exhibit is the portfolio edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by the famous painter, Salvador Dalí.  Dalí was born in Figueras, Spain, on May 11, 1904.   He was a painter with a style that placed him in the Surrealist Movement, which also included writers and poets.  According to poet and critic André Breton, the spokesman of the movement, Surrealism was a way to unite conscious and unconscious realms of experience so that the world of dream and fantasy is joined to the everyday rational world in "an absolute reality, a surreality."  The Surrealists were influenced by the research and theories of Sigmund Freud on the unconscious, utilizing his methods of free association to explore and reveal the interior world of the mind, including dreams.  Their work “confused” the states of dreaming and reality by placing ordinary objects in unusual circumstances and landscapes, thus blurring the border between reality and dreams or imagination.   With this definition in mind, it makes perfect sense that Dalí would bring his Surrealist sensibilities to bear on Carroll’s text in which a real little girl falls into a wonderland where rabbits talk, cats disappear and nothing seems quite right.  A recurring and well-known image in Dalí’s work was the “melting clock,” which can be seen serving as the table in the illustration for the Mad Tea Party.

Dalí’s illustrated version was published in portfolio in 1969 by the Maecenas Press of New York as a limited edition. The Baldwin Library copy is Number 426 of 2500 issued.  This particular portfolio was purchased by the Library in 2007 from the personal library of the estate of David Friedkin, a television series creator, writer, director and producer (I Spy, Dr. Kildare, The Most Deadly Game, among others) and movie screenwriter (The Pawnbroker).  ~ © 2007 Rita Smith