Dec 16

A New Alice in the Old Wonderland, Anna Matlack Richards’ 1895 novel in sequel to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, is now available from Evertype.

From the back cover:

First published in 1895 in Philadelphia, thirty years after the initial publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Anna Matlack Richards’ A New Alice in the Old Wonderland is a splendid and worthy successor to Lewis Carroll’s original tales. Instead of Alice Liddell, it is Alice Lee who makes her way to Wonderland…

Richly illustrated in the style of John Tenniel by the author’s daughter, this book will delight any reader thirsting for a new adventure in Carroll’s wondrous world.

“I’m delighted to learn that A New Alice is in print again… I’ve read dozens of ‘Alice imitations’ in the course of my work, but Richards’ remains my favorite.” —Carolyn Sigler

From the Foreword:

Anna Matlack Richards (1835–1900) was a poet, playwright, and author, a Pennsylvania Quaker whose reputation as a poet had been established by the time she was twenty. At twenty-one, she married William Trost Richards, and both he and their daughter, Anna Richards Brewster, were American artists of some renown. Richards was fifty-five when she published her children’s fantasy, A New Alice in the Old Wonderland. Although an imitation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, it is also subtly critical of them, and its gentle satire is reflected in the sensitive illustrations in the style of Tenniel drawn by Anna Brewster. Carolyn Sigler has written on this aspect of A New Alice, which she considers outstanding among Alice imitations.

The judgement of critics, of course, does not affect the story. It is a pleasant task to edit a century-old book for re-publication and a new generation of readers. Here, as in my other editions of Alice books, I have kept to the book design inspired by Martin Gardiner’s Annotated Alice. I have edited certain features in Anna Richards’ text of 1895, in order to bring it closer to modern tastes in format and language. I have normalized “Your Majesty” to “your Majesty” and followed Carroll’s example in similar cases. I have preferred the more modern “eh?” to “hey?”, “recipe” to “receipt”, “curtsey” to “courtesy”, and “Jew’s harp” to “jewsharp”. I have regularized the capitalization of nouns in “Der leedle Johann Schmaus”. Where Richards follows Websterian spelling, I have altered to Oxford orthography. In places, Anna Richards’ 19th-century punctuation has been altered to conform to modern practice.

I have also edited out two notable features of the author’s dialect: Humpty Dumpty’s “should ’a’ been” for “should have been” and “hadn’t ’a’ had” for “hadn’t had” (neither warranted by Through the Looking-Glass); and the third-person present singular use of “don’t” for “doesn’t” through out. These dialect features are distinctively American (my mother’s mother, born in Eastern Pennsylvania in 1915, also used “don’t” for “doesn’t”) and seemed out of place in Lewis Carroll’s very English Wonderland. On the other hand, I have retained Richards’ use of Irish dialect by the workers (p. 102) and by the King of Clubs (p. 138); Irish immigrant dialect would have been well-known to Richards, though is unclear whether Richards’ use of Irish English is intended to convey positive or negative connotations, or if it’s just there for flavour.

Finally, since people are sure to ask… I felt that Carroll’s preference in writing “ca’n’t”, “sha’n’t”, and “wo’n’t” would be good for the conceit.

Michael Everson
Westport, 22 November 2009

4 Responses to “A New Alice in the Old Wonderland”

  1. John Cowan says:

    Eh? is by no means hey? They have quite different connotations. (In my fiction writing, I have two characters one of whom uses eh? as a tag question, Canadian-style, and the other uses hey? as a tag, hayseed-style.

  2. Michael Everson says:

    I agree. Eh? and Hey? are different for me, too. In the four instances where they occurred in Richards' book, however, it seemed to me that the right tag to use for a modern reader was the former.

    Interestingly (I suppose), eh occurs once in Alice (in eh, stupid?) and not at all in Looking-Glass (unless you count Be-e-ehh!); hey occurs in neither.

  3. John Cowan says:

    By the way, since this novel is in the public domain, is the plain text of it available online anywhere?

  4. Michael Everson says:

    The book is on archive.org, but there is no corrected plain text version anywhere apart from my own machine.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

preload preload preload