Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Retold in words of one syllable
By Lewis Carroll
First edition, 2010. Illustrations by John Tenniel. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-44-2 (paperback), price: €9.95, £7.95, $11.95.
|Mrs. Gorham||Lewis Carroll|
|“Do you like your size now?” asked the Cat-er-pil-lar.||“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.|
|“Well, I’m not quite so large as I would like to be,” said Al-ice; “three inch-es is such a wretch-ed height to be.”||“Well, I should like to be a little larger, Sir, if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”|
|“It is a good height, in-deed!” said the Cat-er-pil-lar, and reared it-self up straight as it spoke (it was just three inch-es high).||“It is a very good height indeed!” said the Caterpillar angrily, rearing itself upright as it spoke (it was exactly three inches high).|
|“But I’m not used to it!” plead-ed poor Al-ice. And she thought, “I wish the things would-n’t be so ea-sy to get mad!”||“But I’m not used to it!” pleaded poor Alice in a piteous tone. And she thought to herself “I wish the creatures wouldn’t be so easily offended!”|
|“You’ll get used to it in time,” the Cat-er-pil-lar said, and put the pipe to its mouth.||“You’ll get used to it in time,” said the Caterpillar; and it put the hookah into its mouth and began smoking again.|
|Al-ice wait-ed till it should choose to speak. At last it took the pipe from its mouth, yawned once or twice, then got down from its perch and crawled off in the grass. As it went it said, “One side will make you tall, and one side will make you small.”||This time Alice waited patiently until it chose to speak again. In a minute or two the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and yawned once or twice, and shook itself. Then it got down off the mushroom, and crawled away into the grass, merely remarking as it went, “One side will make you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter.”|
|“One side of what?” thought Al-ice to her-self.||“One side of what? The other side of what?” thought Alice to her-self.|
|“Of the mush-room,” said the Cat-er-pil-lar, just as if it had heard her speak; soon it was out of sight.||“Of the mushroom,” said the Caterpillar, just as if she asked it aloud; and in another moment it was out of sight.|
Mrs J. C. Gorham, alas, is known to us only by her married name—and this means, by the usual practice of the time, that her husband was named J. C. Nevertheless, Mrs Gorham is notable for having written three books in “Burt’s Series of One Syllable Books”, Gulliver’s Travels (1896) and Black Beauty (1905) being her other two, with some eleven other books in this “series of Classics, selected specially for young people’s reading, and told in simple language for youngest readers”.
M. Sarah Smedman, in an article about Gulliver’s Travels as a children’s book, makes reference to Mrs Gorham’s adaptation:
Interesting if only because it evinces the challenge posed by a clever game, the book has a liveliness of style derived from varied sentence patterns and apt diction. Gorham cheats only a little when she divides the months of the year into hyphenated words.
Having read the Gulliver’s Travels retelling, I can say that it is a fine example of monosyllabic writing—Smedman makes no overstatement. Although Mrs Gorham “cheats” rather a bit more than this in her 1905 retelling of Alice—her style is still both vigorous and enjoyable. It is for this reason that Mrs Gorham’s “Alice imitation” (to use Carolyn Sigler’s term) deserves to be put back into print.
Quite unlike this is the rather dreadful 1908 version published by Saalfield, which, although claiming to be “in words of one syllable” is in fact no more than a hyphenated edition of Carroll’s text, which inexplicably omits two chapters entirely: “Pig and Pepper” and “The Lobster-Quadrille”.
Another version, genuinely monosyllabic, was published by Routledge & Sons sometime between 1900 and 1909. (The approximate date can be guessed from the publisher’s de
HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, Cnoc Sceichín, Leac an Anfa, Cathair na Mart, Co. Mhaigh Eo, Éire, 2010-03-21
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