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Introduction

The literary works of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pseudonym Lewis Carroll), were greatly influenced by his love and interaction with his new dean’s children: Alice, Edith, Harry, and Lorina. Kastan (383) asserts that this love and interaction grew as Lewis went out with these children on outings on the banks of the Thames and Isis rivers where he would tease, joke and entertain them by drawing pictures and telling them stories. This interaction marked the beginning of his novel ‘Alice in Wonderland” and other literary works, which famed him as a master novelist in nonsense-literature genres. This paper discusses Lewis Carroll’s life and contributions to literature

Biographical Data

In Kastan’s (386) view Charles Lutwidge Dodgson preferred to use the pseudonym Lewis Carroll to protect his reputation as a clergy and a mathematician.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was born on the 27th of January 1832 in Daresbury, England. According to Schweke (4), Dodgson was named after his father Charles Dodgson, a renowned clergyman and a brilliant mathematician, who later became the Archdeacon of Richmond. His mother, who also was his father’s first cousin, was Frances Jane Lutwidge. Charles was the third born in the family of eleven and the first son to Charles and Frances. When he was eleven years of age, his father became a cleric and was given residence in North Yorkshire.

Schweke (6) claims that young Charles Dodgson grew up as a bright and articulate boy, always desiring to follow the footsteps of his father by being a mathematician and a clergy. In his early years, he was mostly educated at home and started reading at the age of seven. Schweke (7) asserts that at this age young Charles was good at memorizing list after list of kings, countries and was fond of reading. In his twelfth year he was sent a way to a small private boarding school in Richmond, and eventually moved to Rugby School in 1845. At the closing stages of 1849, young Charles left Rugby School and joined Christ Church College in Oxford two years later. After graduating from Oxford with a B.A. and an M. A. in mathematics in 1854 and 1857 respectively, he lectured mathematics at Oxford from 1856 to 1881.

Schweke (6) claims that Dodgson pursued photography as a hobby in addition to his career in mathematics and his sisters and little children were the major subjects of his portraits. One of his preferred models was a juvenile girl called Alice Liddell, who became the center for his fictional character, Alice. Schweke (6) further claims that Dodgson wrote poetry and short stories and often sent them to various magazines and publications: The Comic Times, Oxford Critic, Whitby Gazette, and The Train among others.

Charles Dodgson was also a curator of the Common Room at Christ Church for a number of years. He also took holy orders including a commitment not to marry, became a deacon in 1861 in Christ Church Cathedral, but was never fully ordained as a priest. Schweke (6) avers that Dodgson invented the 1889 wonderful postage stamp case, and the logic and word game scrabble.

Major Influences

According to Susina (25), Dodgson was greatly influenced to venture into literature by his favorite photography model, Alice Liddell, the eleven year old daughter of the dean at the Christ’s Church. Dodgson used to tell Alice and her sisters stories to entertain them in the boating trips he used to have with them in 1862. In one of these trips, Alice requested him to write out Alice’s adventure for her.

Apart from the influence of Alice and Duckworth, he had a love for literature and often studied literary articles by William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Lord Alfred Tennyson. In Susiana’s point of view, this love for literary works was perfected when he joined Oxford University and the Christ Church College (26).

In 1856 Dodgson published a romantic poem “Solitude” in the Train magazine under the authorship of ‘Lewis Carroll’, his pseudonym that would make him famous. In this same year, Christ Church College had a new Dean, Henry Liddell, who came with his wife and children: Edith, Ina, and Alice. Susiana (27) affirms that Dodgson developed a close friendship with this family and made it his tradition to be taking the three Liddell daughters out for picnic on the river Thames. It is during these picnics that Dodgson made up the sketch out of the narratives that became his largest commercial success.

According to Schweke (6), Lewis Carroll lived between the 27th January 1832 and 14th January 1898. In his early years he used to entertain his sisters and brothers by performing marionette shows, playing magic tricks, and writing poetry.

Most Significant Work

According to Ray (140), Lewis Carroll’s most significant literary work was his novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” published in 1865. This book tells of a girl by the name of Alice, who fell downward into a rabbit hole and into a dream world or wonderland filled by peculiar anthropomorphic beings. In Kastan’s (134) view, this literary work falls under nonsense and fantasy literary genres. This novel is social and uses characters that discuss the various concepts and aspects of society, philosophy, morality, and religion.

Other Literary Contributions

Apart from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”, Lewis Carroll also wrote “The Hunting of the Snark”, “Through the Looking Glass”, “The Nursery Alice”, and “Sylvie and Bruno” among others. According to Ray (109), “The Hunting of the Snark” was written in 1874 and produced in 1876 as a fantastical nonsensical literary poem. This literary work explores the adventure of a wacky crew of tradesmen: a butcher, a barrister, a bellman, a bonnet maker, a broker, a baker, and one beaver. This crew set off to find the eponymous creature known as Snark.

According to Ray (109), this book has inspired several works based on the poems it contains and has also been performed into an opera when it was translated into German by Michael Ende.

Ray (110) maintains that “Through the looking Glass” was in print in 1871 as a continuation of “Alice Adventures in Wonderland’. In this article Alice discovers an alternative world on the other side of the mirror hung over the fireplace mantel. This book has an amusement of chess played on a gigantic chessboard with square fields as its main theme.

The book “Sylvie and Bruno” was published in 1889 and its second volume in 1893. According to Ray (111), this novel has two distinct plots: real world and fairyland or fantasy world. This novel’s literal value comes from the fact that it is social in essence, and uses characters to discuss aspects of society, morality, and religion.

Literary and Social Impact

Lewis Carroll is widely remembered as a mathematician, a logician, a photographer and an author. Kastan (300) asserts that literature will remember him as an inventor and a contributor in “Jabberwocky” in which he created nonsensical words from different word combinations. In addition, Lewis Carroll will be remembered for his ability in word play, fantasy, and logic.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll, is among the best authors, who have mastered the use of nonsensical literary genres in their works. This author perfected the use of nonsensical words in his poems and novels to discuss various concepts and aspects of philosophy, religion morality, and society as discussed in this paper. Despite his death in 1898, Lewis Carroll’s works still live to date.

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