A Day to Go Down a Rabbit Hole

chapter 1

On May 4th of some year long ago, a young girl went down a rabbit hole and entered a wonderland, and began an incredible adventure.

That girl was Alice and she descended into Wonderland on the birthday of Alice Pleasance Hargreaves (née Liddell), who was her inspiration as a character. The Liddells were friends with the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll). Alice and her two sisters heard the first versions of the story on a “golden afternoon” in 1862, in a rowboat with Dodgson.

The story was originally titled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, but was published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in November 1865. It was hit and called “the publishing sensation of Christmas 1865.”

Alice's Adventures Under Ground - Lewis Carroll - British Library Add MS 46700 f45v.jpg
A page from the manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under      Ground, 1864. Public Domain, Link

The book has never gone out of print. It has been translated into more than 100 languages, including Latin.

It is one of those “children’s books” that offers other things to adult readers, such as linguistic puzzles, contradictions, and jokes.

Alice is not frightened as she falls down that hole after following a rabbit. In fact, as she makes that long descent, she talks to herself and analyses what is happening and may happen. In Wonderland, she is constantly trying to make sense of nonsensical things and is forced to rethink many of her assumptions and view things differently.

“Alice had no idea what Latitude was, or Longitude either,
but thought they were nice grand words to say.”

Thinking she may fall through the Earth to Australia or New Zealand, she wonders (as one will do in Wonderland)  “How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward!”Today, we still fall down “rabbit holes” – especially online. To aid your own trip down Alice’s rabbit hole, here are a few links.

I am a fan of The Annotated Alice which helps with many of the references that I missed as a child and as an adult.

The Alice in Wonderland Omnibus has Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass with the original John Tenniel Illustrations because, as Alice said, “What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?”

Wikipedia has very good articles about the original book, the sequel, Through the Looking Glass, and Lewis Carroll.

If you are fearful of falling down a rabbit hole, you might try Through the Looking Glass (full name Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There) where  Alice climbs through a mirror into a world where everything is reversed. This is the book that includes the poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Walrus and the Carpenter”, and introduces the new characters such as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Macbeth and The Green Knight

“By the pricking of my thumbs,
something wicked this way comes.”


A new film version of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth directed by Joel Coen and starring Denzel Washington, Frances McDormand, Corey Hawkins, Brendan Gleeson, and Harry Melling will be released at the end of the year.

This will be Joel Coen’s first film without partnering with his brother. The Coen brothers have directed many great films in different genres and styles. I’m curious to see how Joel’s directing style and tone translate to Shakespeare. From the few tidbits of trailers I’ve seen, the cinematography looks great – cinematographer: Bruno Delbonnel – but photography alone is not what makes a film great.

It will be in theaters on Christmas Day 2021. That seems to be an odd day for this dark play to premiere. (It will be streaming on Apple TV+ on January 14.) But that Christmas date immediately made me think of another recent film based on a classic.

green knight

The Green Knight directed by David Lowery came out earlier this year. It stars Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander and Joel Edgerton. This classic, which I read in college, is one of the Arthurian legends. One surviving manuscript from around 1400 has survived. The author is unknown. It was only rediscovered 200 years ago and published for the first time in 1839.

The original Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain who is King Arthur’s nephew. He’s a bit headstrong and takes on a challenge from the Green Knight. He is a huge emerald armored stranger. (In the film, he seems to be green-skinned and more monster than man.) The Green Knight sets forth a challenge. Any knight can take one stroke at him. If he survives, the following year at Christmas the knight must come to the Green Knight and alow him one stroke.

Spoiler alert: Gawain’s beheading of the Green Knight has little effect on him and so Gawain has a year until he will meet his fate.

Gawain’s journey to the Green Knight involves ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers because the Green Knight test men and the journey is more about his character.