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Æðelgýðe Ellendǽda on Wundorlande
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in Old English

Æðelgýðe Ellendǽda on Wundorlande

By Hlóðwíg Carroll, translated into Old English by Peter S. Baker.

First edition, 2015. Illustrations by Byron W. Sewell and John Tenniel. Portlaoise: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-112-5 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95.

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“On þám daéle,” cwæþ se Catt, þá swíðran féðemunde wafiende, “wunaþ Hætwyrhta; and on þám daéle,” þá óðre féðemunde wafiende, “wunaþ Hlýdhara. Genéosa swá hwæðerne swá þé lícaþ: hira bégen wóde sind.”   “In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“Ac ic nylle ongemang þám wódum gán,” sægde Æðelgýþ.   “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Éalá, þú scealt swá dón swá willes swá unwilles,” cwæþ se Catt. “Hér ealle wóde sindon. Ic eom wód. Þú eart wód.”   “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“Hú wást þú þæt ic wód síe?” cwæþ Æðelgýþ.   “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“Þú eart wód tó gewisse,” cwæþ se Catt, “oþþe hwý cóme þú hider?”   “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”
Cat Clárach
Old English (or "Englisc") is the English language as recorded from around the year 700 to 1100. Spoken by King Alfred the Great and Lady Godiva, the Venerable Bede and Edward the Confessor, it is the language of such classics as "Beowulf", "The Dream of the Rood", and "The Seafarer". After 1100 the language went through a period of change so rapid that, by the time two centuries had passed, few could read these old texts.    
And yet "Englisc" really is English-much closer to the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, and Dickens, and much easier for English speakers to learn, than such modern languages as French, Spanish, and German. For those interested in learning the oldest variety of English, this translation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" may provide a pleasurable study aid: just set the modern text and this one side by side and compare the two. But be careful! In this book, Lewis Carroll's classic tale has been transported into the distant past, before the English had ever heard of tea, imagined a device as sophisticated as a watch, or even seen a rabbit (a later invasive species). Instead, they drank beer, mead, or (when they could get it) wine; an exceptionally learned scholar might have known how to tell time with an astrolabe; and the most familiar long-eared animal was the hare.    
These and many other differences between the England of Lewis Carroll and that of King Alfred are represented in this book's text and illustrations both. In addition, the magnificent poems of "Alice" ("How Doth the Little Crocodile", "You Are Old, Father William", and more) have been rendered into the meter and idiom of "Beowulf", thus becoming satires of Old English heroic poetry as well as of the moralistic verse that Carroll lampooned with such devastating effect.    

 
HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2015-08-21

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