Home » Fantasy and the human mind » Alice in Wonderland and through the Looking Glass.

Alice in Wonderland and through the Looking Glass.

(Credit ; wired.com)

The next book was really two books in one. This is for the second week for my on line course with Coursera, Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World  by Eric Rabkin. It was the very excellent Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass from Lewis Carroll. Erik Rabkin explains that these two can be considered as one book. We see a certain progress between the two.

I enjoyed re reading these two books again as an adult. I had forgotten a lot of the stories within the book  or mixed up the two. Films of the books tend to take stories from each book and don’t have the same feeling about them. The recent Tim Burton film had a type of madness to it that I loved.

As I mentioned last time the essay question is the same each week with a very open topic.

Please write an essay that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course. Each essay should be between 270 and 320 words.

Here is the essay that I submitted which received a very satisfactory 5.


Jabberwocky

The English language would be much poorer without authors like Chaucer, Shakespeare and Carroll. They created words and phrases that form part of the colourful language used today.  But who was the greatest of these wordsmiths? Or as Humpty Dumpty says “The question is which is to be master—that’s all.“[1] Is that by word-count, notoriousness, or imagination?

Chaucer is credited with the most words (over2,000)[3but only for the first written use (including bribe and army). He didn’t necessarily invent the words. Shakespeare is credited with over 1700 new words[2]. He invented them by blending Anglo Saxon words (barefaced) using French (laced), Latin (sanctimonious) and regional variations (dexterously). He used alternative prefixes and suffixes (reword) and changed word usage from noun to verb and vice-versa (luggage).

Although Carroll is credited with inventing the fewest words (24 [4]), he deserves his place among the greats as he understood the importance of words. Through Humpty Dumpty, he told us that when he uses a word “it means just what I choose it to mean”[1]. Carroll convinces us of this throughout. Jabberwocky is a prime example. We understand the poem and accept these words as much as those of Chaucer or Shakespeare.

Humpty Dumpty

The words ‘Shakespearean’ and ‘Chaucerian’ are included in dictionaries, meaning of or relating to the author or his works. Sadly, although well deserved, ‘Carrolian’ has not caught on and doesn’t appear anywhere except in ‘The Annotated Alice’[5]. We use several expressions derived from “Alice” such as ‘as mad as a Hatter’ and ‘grinning like a Cheshire cat’. His words and phrases are certainly as well-known as Shakespearian examples such as ‘break the ice’ and ‘in a pickle’.

Although Carroll is a lot of fun, on balance, the master wordsmith has to be Shakespeare. It is difficult to construct a sentence or use a phrase without including something by him. If you use ‘employer’, ‘downstairs’ or ‘unpublished’ you use Shakespeare.

 


Works cited:

Please note that this essay is written in British English.

Sources of information:

Picture credit – Wikipedia –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabberwocky#Translations

  1. Carroll — Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  2. Mabillard, Amanda.- Words Shakespeare Invented
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_words_first_attested_in_Chaucer#cite_note-6
  4. Quora.com http://www.quora.com/What-are-all-the-words-coined-by-Lewis-Carroll
  5. Carroll and Gardner – “The Annotated Alice”

Peer Review 

The review process is split into three parts.

Part one FORM

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the FORM of the essay you have just read.  FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct?  Are the words properly used?  Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly?  An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → Form is great – paragraphs are concise, ideas ordered logically. Intro and concluding comments effectively bracket ideas. Critical apparatus also consistent.
peer 2 → Your essay is great. It is very well structured and the word usage and grammar do not trip you up as you read it. Though when you are discussing how the authors came up with different words I’m not sure it was necessary to add the words into parenthesis those did trip me up and confuse me as to what you were trying to further explain.
peer 3 → The structure and the argument are laid down clearly. The vocabulary is rich and the essay without any spelling mistakes.
peer 4 → Too much introduction, poor conclusion.
peer 5 → I think the grammar is correct, but the second and the third paragraph talks, in fact, about the same topic, and in my opinion must be merged.

Please grade the FORM of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. FORM here refers to matters of grammar, usage, and structure. Are the sentences grammatically correct? Are the words properly used? Is the exposition and argument laid out clearly? An ideal response would note one aspect of Form that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Form that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Everyone should strive for perfect grammar. However, if someone writes in ways that are particularly vivid or uses particularly incisive key terms to focus the argument or in some other way is outstanding in usage or structure, that essay should be awarded a 3 but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 3


Part two CONTENT

Please indicate in 30-150 words your judgment of the CONTENT of the essay you have just read. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

peer 1 → Some interesting ideas, but I can’t help feeling that the content ‘misses the mark’ of this assignment. They are great ideas, but for this task we were looking for a deeper exploration of, and insights about, Lewis Carroll’s two stories, not a comparison between him and two other authors. Sorry – it would have been great otherwise!
peer 2 → You had a great argument and did a very good job presenting. Showing support of all three authors you presented. One thing is that it was an argument that I feel deserved more words than we are allowed to type for our essays in this course. It felt very rushed near the end.
peer 3 → The author points out that the writers like Carrol enriched the English language. The statement is supported by the examples from Alice, which makes the essay in line with the assignment.
peer 4 → There is no analysis about the books. It is about Carrol and his wit. We read the books for a reason, and, by reading this essay, i couldn’t even prove you actually read the books. It could have been done without reading them, and that is not what this course is about.
peer 5 → The argument is interesting and easy to read, but you should have focus a little in the books, not only in the author.

Please grade the CONTENT of the essay you have just read on a scale of 1 to 3. CONTENT here refers to matters of insight, argument, and example. Does the essay show a deep understanding of some aspect of the work or of a pattern that one can see in the work? Does the argument make sense, feel persuasive, and reveal the significance of the insight or insights? Are there concrete details from the text that support the argument and that we come to understand more powerfully because of the argument? An ideal response would note one aspect of Content that the writer does well and would profit by continuing and one aspect of Content that the writer would profit by improving in ways you make clear.

Since everyone can learn to write better, at least 10% but no more than 30% of the grades should be 1. Most people will offer their readers a new insight and some detailed reference to the text that argues for the significance of that insight and for an appreciation of how that detail functions, so most essays will enrich our reading and earn a 2. Some essays will be astonishingly new or persuasive or useful by making the story much richer and even by helping you understand better how to read stories in general. Such essays earn a 3 in Content, but no more than 20% of the grades should be a 3 because, by definition, “outstanding” is comparatively rare. Most grades should be 2.

Score from your peers: 2


Part three COMMENTS 

Please write here any other comments which you feel might be of use to you or the writer of this essay.
peer 3 → I like the essay because of the clear message and especially because you’ve mixed the linguistic theme with the story.
peer 5 → Good job with the works cited.

What I will take forward. 

Peer 4’s comments worry me.  I didn’t think I needed to prove that I had read the books within the scope of the essay. Certainly  writing about the books and not the author is not mentioned in the question. I think that the open question means I can write anything that makes people think about what they read.

I’m not sure there is anything else I can take froward from the peer reviews. In the main they are positive.

 

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4 Comments

  1. raerei says:

    My understanding was that we had to write on a literary topic, which I think you did so I wouldn’t worry too much. You may have skirted the edge, but think it was within bounds and I’m glad overall your score shows that. Words and how they are used was a major point of the books (as you so clearly pointed out) and I’m glad that you looked into how the importance Carroll’s words and how they’ve affected the English language we use today. I too read the Annotated Alice and feel like our language is much richer for Carroll’s works.

    • Louise Taylor says:

      Thank you Rae
      I think the topic is really open and so we can write about basically whatever we want as along as it it literary and to do with the current work.
      I love words. As a teacher of English I use the Jabberwocky poem sometimes to check understanding of word order. We know which are the verbs, nouns and adjectives but does someone who put words in a different order.
      He was a master craftsman.

  2. I thought this was an excellent essay that fultilled the brief. I would have rated it a 5 or 6.

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