Saturday, August 13, 2011

Carroll's Mad Tea Party Then - and Now

THERE'S A CHAPTER IN Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that Lewis Carroll labeled
'' A Mad Tea Party." It is where Alice encounters the March Hare, the Hatter and the Dormouse, although the latter is usually asleep. Beware. The entire conversation is babble, full of non-sequitors and unforgiving. March Hare offers Alice wine. When she complains that she doesn't see any wine, her host explains that it is because "There isn't any."

They then challenge her with a riddle. When she is unable to answer it, she gives up and asks for the answer. "I haven't the slightest idea," the Hatter replies.

"Nor I,'' says the March Hare.

Insults are exchanged. Finally, the Dormouse, in a sort of stupor, asks: "...did you ever see such a thing as a drawing of a muchness?"

"Really, now you ask me," says Alice, who is "very much confused."

"Then you shouldn't talk." the Hatter scolds her.

It is dizzying, but the author is toying with adults and one should not read it simply as a children's story.

Mad Tea Party? In today's nonsensical political atmosphere, I can only ask: How did Lewis
Carroll know?

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