Nabokov's Anya and a trip to the present tense...
2/27/2015 @ 2:52AM
Think You Know Alice In Wonderland? This Exhibition Reveals Her Dalliances
With Dali And Nabokov
In 1923, a Russian printer exiled in Berlin published Anya in Wonderland. In
many respects, the book resembled Lewis Carroll'sAlice, but the translator
changed many characters' names, and the nursery rhymes he parodied were
Slavic, not British. All of these distortions were deliberate, the work of a
young novelist whose reputation for literary playfulness would ultimately
rival Carroll's: Working under a pseudonym - and paid the equivalent of five
dollars for his efforts - the translator was Vladimir Nabokov.
The first edition of Anya in Wonderland is one of dozens of artifacts
currently o <http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/exhibitions/2015/alice/> n view at
the University of Texas's Harry Ransom Center, capturing the curious path
that Carroll's tale has taken since he first told it to Alice Liddell and
her siblings on a boat trip in 1862. Other objects in the exhibition include
translations into languages from Afrikaans to Bengali, and editions
illustrated by everyone from John Tenniel to Salvador Dali to Ralph
The most compelling illustrations of Carroll's classic are as irreverent as
Nabokov's text. John Tenniel's pictures for the first British edition
puckishly skew traditional Victorian iconography. A century later, Dali
renders the Rabbit Hole and the Queen's Croquet Ground hallucinogenically.
And Steadman (most famous for illustrating Hunter S. Thompson's
through-the-looking-glass journalism) stages Alice's adventures in modern
England, rendering the White Rabbit as a harried commuter and showing the
Mad Hatter hosting a game show.
These reimaginings are much more than attractive packaging. As Carroll's
Victorian world lapses into history, and his references fall into obscurity,
they transport Alice forward through time. They translate Alice into the
present tense, much as Nabokov once made her Russian.
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