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In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth…

In the Shadow of the Dreamchild: The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll

by Karoline Leach

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Read this if you're interested in seeing how myths develop, and how ideas of moral purity change over time. And for some compelling if sometimes questionable argumentation from this excellent writer. essential for anyone interested in Lewis Carroll, 19th century literature and society, childhood, biography.
  eccentrica | Jul 24, 2013 |
Although sometimes marketed as a biography of Charles Dodgson, that is not this book's purpose. It contains a brief biography, but most of the book is devoted to puncturing myths.

Unfortunately, it is by no means clear that all those myths need to be punctured.

The result is a book which is extremely controversial -- and justifiably so. Leach seems to take delight in going after absolutely everything, whether there is a factual basis for her doubts or not. The tone is controversial, not scholarly, making it very difficult to know what to take seriously. Her disputes with Morton N. Cohen are simply undignified.

This is not to deny that the book has value. We have many visions of Lewis Carroll today -- as a semi-secular saint, as a stammering pedophile, even as a drug addict. Most of these visions are wrong -- the one about the drug use ridiculously so, the others at best exaggerated. They deserve to be attacked. But Leach is much too likely to throw out the baby with the bathwater. She clearly does not understand Dodgson -- witness the fact that she does nothing with the fact that he clearly suffered from Asperger's Syndrome (high-function autism).

A truly complete biography of Charles Dodgson has never been written. Very likely it cannot be -- he was too private a man to give us a real insight into who he was. As one who shares many of his traits, I feel the incompleteness in every work ever written about him. Seeing many perspectives can be helpful. If you have already read two or three of the Dodgson biographies (those by Cohen, Woolf, and Clark being the best I know), then it might be time to turn to Leach. But to start with her -- definitely not something I would recommend. ( )
  waltzmn | Feb 2, 2012 |
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He was the last saint of this irreverent world; those who have surrendered the myths of Santa Claus, of the stork, of Jehovah hand their last remnants of mysticism on Lewis Carroll and will not allow themselves to examine him dispassionately.
--Florence Becker Lennon
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Charles Dodgson was born on 27 January 1832. He lived his life and eventually died on 14 January 1898.

Lewis Carroll was born on 1 March 1856 and is still very much alive.
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A revolutionary and much-acclaimed study of the work and motives of the Alice In Wonderland authorThis is the most significant biographical work on the author of Alice In Wonderland to be published in recent years, and this new edition marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Karoline Leach's study contends that Carroll was far from being emotionally-and sexually-obsessed with female children and his "muse" Alice Liddell. She tells the strange story of how the false image of Carroll came into being and how he adored-and was adored by-women of all ages and enjoyed adult relationships that woud have scandalized the Victorian age in which he lived. The author gained access to unpublished evidence from the family archive, as well as letters and diaries, that led her to uncover Carroll's secret passion for another member of "Alice's" family. In The Shadow of The Dreamchild is a radical re-evaluation of the life and work of one of England's most mysterious literary figures, and the revised edition expands on Leach's important research.… (more)

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