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Alice in Space


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About the Author

Gillian Beer is the King Edward VII Professor of English Literature Emerita at the University of Cambridge. Her books include Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction and Virginia Woolf: The Common Ground. Named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1998, she has edited popular editions of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Jane Austen's Persuasion, and Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky and Other Nonsense: Collected Poems.


"Alice in Space arouses our curiosity and there is plenty for the general reader who likes the Alice books to enjoy. After reading Alice in Space one can return to the texts with an enhanced understanding, appreciating both author and his books to a greater extent."-- "Children's Books History Society"
"An erudite, witty and intimate journey through Wonderland. . . . Reading Alice in Space is like participating in a marvellous dinner party conversation as the author moves freely and easily among the intricate interrelationships of Victorian culture."-- "Times Higher Education"
"Beer's work is a thoughtful approach to the world that shaped Charles Dodgson into Lewis Carroll. While not for everyone, Alice in Space is an appealing overabundance of unraveling literary subtext. Its title's "space" refers to the physical and metaphysical spaces explored by Carroll and his contemporaries as they pushed the boundaries of thought by questioning the status quo. Revisiting Carroll's work after reading Beer proves an eye-opening experience for the modern reader, now more equipped to grasp the subtleties of the Carroll's wit and subversive reliance on the absurd and playful. By no means an easy read, Alice in Space nonetheless offers a great deal of insight for those willing to follow the author down, down, down..."-- "Spectrum Culture"
"Combining literary criticism and intellectual history, Alice in Space is a rigorous and engaging guide to both the texts and the contemporary structures of thought that made them possible."-- "Prospect"
"Gillian Beer's much-anticipated Alice in Space: The Sideways Victorian World of Lewis Carroll has already been awarded a major literary prize (Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism) and has received a series of glowing reviews. The well-earned praise recognizes Beer's playful and, at times, brilliant analysis of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. . . . Isis readers, particularly those with an interest in the Victorian period or in the relationship between science and literature more generally, will find much of value in this book. . .not only did Beer's analysis make me want to go back to Carroll's texts; more importantly, she made me want to go to the works that shed further light on what Carroll was doing--to the linguists, logicians, philosophers, men of science, and even dreaded mathematicians who helped create a space for Carroll's imagination to run wild."-- "Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society"
"Just when we all thought we knew the Alice books, along comes Gillian Beer, who opens up not just new doors, but whole new corridors and gardens down in Carroll's sideways world. Alice in Space is a joy: playful, brilliant, and wise."--Rebecca Stott, author of Darwin's Ghosts: In Search of the First Evolutionists "Children's Books History Society"
"Offering sensitive and judicious insights into Lewis Carroll--the man, the mathematician, and the writer--Beer takes us on a vertiginous voyage through the wonderlands of his creation. She explores the scientific and ethical questions of his time and reveals how the comic--and dark--fantasy of the Alice books often conveys the subtlety of his dissenting views. Beer always writes with stylish, consummate eloquence. Alice in Space exemplifies how flights of passionate sympathy and imagination can also be acts of scrupulous inquiry and immaculate research."--Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights "Children's Books History Society"
"The project of resetting Carroll's fanciful dreamscapes into their historical moment has been done before. . . . Beer develops and extends such footnotes into critical prose that describes the intellectual and emotional contours of the Alice universe with enchanting, lapidary precision. She also draws on new archival material to reveal obscure but telling aspects of Carroll's doubled identity as mathematician Charles Dodgson. The result is an enjoyable and compelling description of the Alice books' slant engagements with 1860s British culture. . . . Alice in Space is no critical breakthrough, but its principal aim is more modest: to enhance readers' understanding and enjoyment of the Alice books. In this it succeeds superlatively, by revealing the historical milieu of the books' carefree conceptual play."-- "Critical Inquiry"

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