Differing Wonderland Perspectives

By | Wednesday, January 24, 2007 1 comment
It was announced a little while back that Raven Gregory was working on a book called Return to Wonderland. Newsarama recently followed up with Gregory in this interview. One comment stood out for me as a significant cultural difference between Americans (of which Gregory is one) and Brits (of which Lewis Carroll was)...

"One of the first initial ideas that came about was how terrifying it would be to see a giant caterpillar in front of you. In the novel and animated version, Alice handles all this stuff quite well until the end... while in this story, her daughter deals with the events much more like a regular person would. She's f***ing scared out of her brain."

She may well have been scared, but it wouldn't have been very British of her if she had started trembling on the spot, or run away screaming. No, as a proper English girl, she would have stood in the face of the freak show with a stiff upper lip. In fact, that she cries at all early on is rather out of character for her.

I saw an episode of As Time Goes By... (a 1990s British sitcom that starred Judi Dench before any Americans knew who Judi Dench was) and two of the characters were making fun of another as he was leaving. Dench pops her head in as she's leaving to scold the two with, "I hope you both have a thoroughly unpleasant day." Naturally, an American would have had a considerably shorter response, probably along the lines of "F*** off!"

Call it an attribute or a detriment, but Americans tend to be fairly blunt and straight-forward. An American Alice may well have screamed in horror at a giant caterpillar (and probably popped it one on the nose shortly afterwards), but an English Alice wouldn't have.

My point here is that I think it's important to know something of the context of a story to understand it. How has the perception of war comics changed over the years? Even if you simply reprinted the same ones from the 1940s, how would they be perceived during the late 1960s? Or today? What would a soldier fighting on the front lines of WWII think of a contemporary Captain America?

I'm not saying, by the way, that Gregory's re-interpretation isn't valid! He's bringing the story forward and putting it into a new context. I'm just saying that it seems like his thought process for doing that has skipped a few steps. Does he think he's correcting a flaw in the original, or is he consciously re-contextualizing the characters as well as the story? That's the context I'll be bringing to the table when I pick up the book myself.
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Anonymous said...

I did take a few liberties when writing this new version. In no way am I trying to step on the original and if I have in any way I apologize. I'm just doing my best to tell the best story that is within me. Thanks for your thoughts. This version or take on Wonderland is set in America so the character do share American type qualities.

Raven Gregory