II. The Pool of Tears

Illustration from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

[ Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) with illustrations by John Tenniel ]

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As Carroll's Alice finds a new home in bound books, so too have I shifted to print, although this print is far removed from the press and not bound to the same frameworks of the page as the scanned images that accompany it. The second chapter of Alice's adventure finds her confronting her transformed self after a whirlwind of new physical identities distorting her size and form to the point where she feels alienated from her physical body. But even she could not know how many transformations were about to come, beginning when Carroll sought the perfect illustrator for her print incarnation.

Lewis Carroll found his iconic illustrator John Tenniel working for Punch magazine. They immediately did not see eye to eye on the process, and Tenniel refused to use a model, drawing instead an Alice free from any single real-world counterpart. Carroll's manuscript drawings provided the blueprint for his requests to Tenniel, including detailed demands for the page layout, as seen here in the lengthened Alice who overtakes one side of the page in the same style as Carroll's original (Brooker 106). Even the text intentionally parallels the illustration, with the bemoaning of Alice's "poor little feet" accompanying her feet near the bottom of the page. Carroll's manuscript charts—the original Alice interface—reflected a tight control over physical layout and a strong intentionality between illustrations and text, to the point of detailing alterations to the text to support the "layers of visual and verbal interplay" (Wong 138).

The success of the illustrations is shown in part in the difference between the reprinted version of Carroll's manuscript and the original print accompanied by Tenniel's illustrations:

As Tenniel's protest over the poor printing of the first edition indicated, the entire documentary level of the work must be understood as carrying significance. The fact that one version was conceived as a publishing event, and the other as a manuscript gift book, sets the bibliographical coding for each version on an entirely different footing. (McGann 45)

Carroll's manuscript remained a monument to the story as private, when the identity of Alice Liddell was still firmly entwined with the textual Alice. As Marshall McLuhan has observed, the very act of moving to print changes not only the audience but the work itself:

Manuscript culture is conversational if only because the writer and his audience are physically related by the form publication as performance... printing has enlarged the "hall" for the author's performance until all aspects of style have been altered. (Gutenberg Galaxy 96–97)

Alice in the broader hall became a public figure, awaiting continual reinvention even in print.

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