Yet its most voluminous by-product by far is alternate readings. Delve into the writings of generations of critics, scholars and bloggers, and this beloved bedtime classic becomes variously an allegory on drug culture, a parable of British colonisation, and the story of a heroine with a bad case of penis envy. It proved such a hit that Alice persuaded Dodgson to transcribe it, which he duly did — using the nom de plume Lewis Carroll.
To the 21st Century mind, there is something that makes one deeply uneasy about this scenario. London and surrounds offer an irresistible cacophony of nightlife, food and drink, natural wonders and world-leading culture for you to check out.
Whether you're in town for a couple of hours, a few days or a week, allow yourself to be swept up by Britain's allure. View image of Credit: Re-examining the text, critics found plenty of gynaecological imagery, from the rabbit hole itself to the curtain that she must push aside. Our heroine feels uncomfortable in her body, which undergoes a series of extreme changes; her sense of her self becomes destabilised, leaving her uncertain of her own identity; she butts heads with authority and strives to understand seemingly arbitrary rules, the games that people around her play, and even death.
Famed literary scholar William Empson got especially carried away, declaring that Alice is "a father in getting down the hole, a foetus at the bottom, and can only be born by becoming a mother and producing her own amniotic fluid". From its heat-addled opening scene, there is a psychedelic vibe — besides all those pills, time moves erratically, and the grinning Cheshire Cat is here one minute, gone the next. Still, the druggy associations endure, as a line from The Matrix shows: You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Another strand of criticism views Alice as a political allegory. When our heroine leaps after the White Rabbit, she ends up in a place that, for all its zany, disconcerting strangeness, is ruled over by a quick-tempered queen — Dodgson reputedly had mixed feelings about Queen Victoria even though she loved his book — and has a shambolic legal system, much like Victorian Britain.
Perhaps Alice is a parable of eating disorders or a satire of the Wars of the Roses And how does Alice act in this strange land? According to some interpretations, the carpenter is Jesus and the walrus Peter, with the oysters as disciples.
Priestley weighed into the debate, suggesting that the walrus and the carpenter are instead archetypes of two different types of politician. Alamy And on the debate rages. Alice is a parable of eating disorders, a cautionary tale about the then new-fangled symbolic algebra, a satire of the Wars of the Roses. In the wacky realm of rival theories, we all become as confounded as Alice.
Though Dodson was a logician, Wonderland is a realm in which illogic rules. This story is a part of BBC Britain — a series focused on exploring this extraordinary island, one story at a time. Readers outside of the UK can see every BBC Britain story by heading to the Britain homepage; you also can see our latest stories by following us on Facebook and Twitter.