Happy birthday, dear Alice!

A search for various Alice related terms in the Boidem produces a surprisingly minimal number of results, even though from behind the scenes, perhaps from offstage, Alice Liddle is a rather central association that I return to often. A little bit of time in the limelight can't really correct such an uncalled for upstaging, but this column's date allows me at least a small gesture of appreciation. Alice Liddle wasn't born on this day, but her literary counterpart, created by Lewis Carroll, may well have been.

The correct date is a matter of debate, but numerous sources claim that it was on November 26, 1865, that Lewis Carroll published Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, not only one of the classics of western literature, but also a source of enjoyment, thought and inspiration for creative minds in both the arts and sciences. Of course it may have been in July of that year: some claim that due to a poor printing that first edition was withdrawn and then published in November (and was dated 1866), while others stick by the November date as the correct one for the original printing. A different version, Alice's Adventures Underground, predates the Wonderland book, but for our purposes we'll take these pre-November dates as a gestation period, a pregnancy if you will, that led to the publication of the final product.

Does knowing the precise (and/or correct) date really matter? Probably not. Still, our society is a precision oriented sociey in which the clock exerts a vast influence on our lives. For some reason, knowing exactly when something took place is important to us. And though it may have been very different from our world, Wonderland may also have been heavily influenced by the mechanics of clockwork. After all, when Alice first sees the White Rabbit he is mumbling to himself about being late, and even takes a watch out of his waistcoat pocket. But if Alice, who can never seem to decide if she wants to be big or small, can't decide on the right date on which her publication should be commemorated, maybe she's actually helping us free ourselves from being prisoners of chronological time.

Go to: Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!