Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Alice", Charles Dodgson & Lewis Carroll

We saw Tim Burton's version of Alice in Wonderland yesterday evening. The movie is an enjoyable sequel to the two classic tales, with input from Jabberwocky providing the "cherry on top". Will someone try putting The Hunting of the Snark on screen soon, I wonder? I recall there's already a partial soundtrack by Mike Batt stashed away somewhere. Speaking of soundtracks, the Alice movie could have been improved with a better score - it was noisy at times, tending to drown out dialogue. Other than that - no complaints!

So much has been written about Lewis Carroll, pen-name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, that it's easy to become bewildered. Views about his personal life have evolved as attitudes and sensibilities have changed, decade by decade. I somehow doubt that there's any truth in assumptions that he was a paedophile, or even harbored such desires. 20th century biographers and commentators tended to insert 20th century attitudes onto a Victorian personality.

Dodgson was a keen and talented photographer, in the days when photography was new. He mainly shot portraits - celebrities of the day: poets, actors, artists. He also produced a set of photographs of young children often in naked poses. This, together with his obvious affection for, and ability to appeal to, children via his writings, did a lot to fuel the rabid imaginations of reviewers, biographers and critics.

What can be overlooked in all the excitement bred by his vivid and whacky imagination, is that Dodgson was first and foremost an intellectual, a brainy individual with a flair for mathematics and logic. He wrote several books and papers on these subjects. He was an amateur inventor too. He taught mathematics at Christ Church college, Oxford, was an ordained Deacon of the Church of England, though never became a priest.

None of the above means that a leaning towards paedophilia was not part of his nature, of course - it could have been. Biographers who have more recently studied his diaries tend to edge away from that view. He apparently had many female friends who were certainly not children. At least one writer believes that he may have had an amorous extra-marital affair with the mother of Alice Liddell - the girl so many assume was his famous "Alice" - which he denied. The affair apprently ended badly, and his family, fearing scandal hid or destroyed any written evidence. His diaries disclose numerous close friendships with adult females, and males - which, again does not discount other types of sexual preference.

The truth will remain a mystery - and rightly so.

He was born on 27 January 1832 in Daresbury, England at 3:45 AM (Astrodatabank).
27 January is my own birthday - will that give me a pinprick of insight, I wonder?

Sun in mentally-oriented Aquarius, along with Jupiter and Aquarius's modern ruler Uranus, planet of the innovator, rebel, and all things unexpected. Now - had Uranus been elsewhere in the chart we might never have known a Lewis Carroll. Uranus cranked up the whacky, wonderful images which have delighted generations of kids and adults alike, in, for instance, his Alice tales, Jabberwocky, and The Hunting of the Snark . Sun and Jupiter alone in Aquarius might have given us a professor, a bishop perhaps, or a politician, but without Uranus's close connection to Sun, I doubt Lewis Carroll and his cast of characters would have ever seen daylight.

Jupiter in Aquarius with his Sun accounts well enough for his religious side, as do Mars conjunct Venus in Sagittarius. If Astrodatabank's time of birth for Dodgson is accurate, Sagittarius was rising, with Moon smack dab on the potent ascending degree (cynical as ever, I suspect a little bit of rectification might have gone on here). Sagittarius rules religion - appropriate to the churchy side of his character. When rising though, it mostly manifests as a cheery, ebullient personality which, by all accounts, Dodgson was not. I see him more clearly having either Capricorn or Scorpio rising. But that's just my personal opinion.

My favourite quote from Alice (I wonder why.....?)


anyjazz said...

My favorite quote from the movie was "Dogs will believe anything you tell them."

Rossa said...

Glad you liked the film, we did too. It is amazing how a tale written so long ago can still be a showstopper today letting modern kids who are used to all the CGI effects enjoy an English classic.

Aquarians are often described as a bit whacky. In this case I'd say it was a case of if the cap fits....wear it!

Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ The dog was my favourite character too....or he tied for favourite with the flea-bitten Bandersnatch. ;-D

Twilight said...

Rossa ~~~ It just goes to show that when a writer does a good job his material can be used in many different ways, twisted and turned and updated and still come out well decades and maybe centuries later. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have seen a copy of the letter Alice Liddell wrote to Charles asking him to put into written form the stories he told her and other children while visiting at their summer vacation home in Wales. Alice was the daughter of the Dean of Oxford University where Charles taught. I wouldn't think a woman who had been abused as a child would ask this, so all question of this should be erased from anyone's mind.

Charles father was a Rev. of the church in Daresbury and it was not Catholic ..so he would never be a priest.

The penname was used, but Charles never answered to it. Seemingly proper for the day and his profession was the reason for the penname. .......Donna Dodgson

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Thank you for your input. I too think that it was highly unlikely that the gossip-mongering writers who accuse Dodgson of abuse of any kind ought to be disregarded.

It's such a pity it has had to become part of the legend. People who write books for $$$$$$ will do what they can to sell them - and as we know sex sells. There'd not be a lot of profit writing wholesome books about a decent, law-abiding, ultra-creative writer. That had been done before anyway.

Sad. I included it in my post, because if I hadn't someone would have added it in comment - and without the explanation I tried to give, and added to the besmirching of a good man.