2 Feb 2011

Alice's adventures in Tulgey Wood


(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the
tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came! (...)

"It's certainly an odd sequence, having nothing to do with Lewis Carroll's original story. It seems to be an attempt to make Alice a more sympathetic character. Instead of continuing to charge bravely forward into Wonderland, she suddenly decides she wants to go home. She gets lost in a dark, foreboding forest, is teased by a lot of silly creatures, and finally collapses in tears, until she is rescued by the Cheshire Cat. It's considered a real low point in the film's already thin structure, and consequently is completely left out of many storybook retellings." Daniel Singer

Walt Disney populated the forest Tugey Wood quoted in the incredible poem Jabberwocky in the book Alice Through the Looking Glass. The creatures that inhabit the forest of Disney don't belong to the Carrollian fauna, but dialogue with characters created by Carroll added to a surrealist inspiration. One of the Carroll's characters that proposes an hybridization between everyday objects and animals body is the butterfly is bread and butterfly. The animism present in this kind of objects has been widely present in Surrealist objects as in the festivities of Disneylands.

This is Mary Blair concept art. I don't own the published version of "Alice" illustrated by Mary Blair, but it may have more Tulgey Wood pictures in it.

From Dean & Son, London 1951. Note how closely this production art matches Mary Blair's original concept.

From a more modern storybook from Disney Press, New York 1995. Illustration by Franc Mateu and Holly Hannon.

Note the tree with a strange face holding a nest in its arm-like branch -- and a family of bell-birds -- none of which appear in the film.

Here are 3 images from the "AIW Paint Book" (Whitman, Racine Wisconsin 1951) adapted by Bob Grant.

From Collins, London/Glasgow

Fantastic, isn't it? The tree has awnings. The Butterfly-Net-Bird was later changed to a Birdcage-Bird.

Daniel Singer sent me all of this. Thanks to him.

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