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29 November 2004


I just got a call from the receptionist at my old place of employment -- a package from Amazon arrived for me. (After checking my Amazon account, I discovered that the shipping address associated with my Wish List was not up-to-date.) Apparently some nice person bought me something, but until I pick up the package tomorrow, I won't know What, or From Whom.

But I just wanted to mention this immediately in case the sender was waiting for acknowledgment that it had been received.

UPDATE: Oh, awesome -- it's a lovely hardcover edition of The Annotated Alice, which presents the full texts of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass together with the original John Tenniel illustrations and exhaustive footnotes by popular-science writer Martin Gardner.

One of my favorite comments by Gardner is a page-long digression after Alice briefly wonders whether looking-glass milk is suitable for drinking. As Gardner explains, scientists in Carroll's day had not yet discovered that organic molecules, including the sugars and proteins in milk, come in "left handed" and "right-handed" versions (stereoisomers). Alice could've quenched her thirst with the looking-glass milk, but it would've had zero food value and might've given her a nasty case of the runs -- today's "fake fats" like Olestra are literally based on "looking-glass molecules"!

There are even "outtakes" -- including some rough drafts by Tenniel and Carroll's unpublished Wasp In A Wig chapter that Tenniel famously refused to illustrate ("a wasp in a wig is altogether beyond the appliances of art"). It's like a Special Edition DVD in convenient book form!

I actually own a copy of The Annotated Alice in Russian -- I found it in a Moscow bookstore, and it has the complete translations of Gardner's footnotes as well as Carroll's texts. I've enjoyed laboring my way through portions of that (my Russian is well short of native-level) and I'm glad to finally have the English original in my personal library.

posted by Throbert | 11/29/2004 05:30:00 PM |
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