Alice in Wonderland: The Ultimate Self Help Book

"Drink me"

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.

I have always been able to relate to this picture

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.

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen. We all know this person, don't we?

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?

Ah! The tea party ...

6 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland: The Ultimate Self Help Book

  1. Thanks for this – great to have it pop up on the screen on a dull day in the UK. The AS Byatt quotation is particularly useful as a guide to everyday living. I find that fairy tales are generally a good guide for living, and examining life’s challenges using the rubric of a fairy tale can so often enlighten.

    I have to say the clips I’ve seen of this film don’t visually do as much for me as the original illustrations which I remember from childhood and think are fabulous. Let us know your views once you’ve seen it.

    1. Thank you so much for the comment. If you have not already, read AS Byatt’s new book – The Children’s Book. It is wonderful. One of the characters is a writer of fairy tales. Byatt (as the character) writes an amazing fairy tale of a boy who disappears into a hedge. It should be extracted and illustrated! I will comment on the film. As with all things Hollywood – I fear they will go over the top!

  2. I will look out the AS Byatt book – thanks! Look forward to your comments – it looks like it may be OTT.

    You have probably read Women who run with the Wolves – very interesting on the importance of fairy tales.

  3. Honestly, have not read the ‘alice and the wonderland’ book – and now your post tickles my curiosity about it..on how it has become a self-help book.. 🙂

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