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Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream

Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream

By John Kendrick Bangs

New edition, 2010. Illustrations by Albert Levering. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-56-5 (paperback), price: €11.95, £10.95, $14.95.

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“Yes,” said the Hatter. “The March Hare and the White Knight and I. We’ve started a city to do it with. We’ve sprinkled our streets with Rough on Copperations until there isn’t one left in the place. Everything in town belongs to the People—streetcars, gutters, pavements, theatres, electric light, cabs, manicures, dogs, cats, canary birds, hotels, barber shops, candy stores, hats, umbrellas, bakeries, cakeries, steakeries, shops—you ca’n’t think of a thing that the city don’t own. No more private ownership of anything from a toothbrush to a yacht, and the result is we are all happy.”    
“It sounds fine,” said Alice. “Though I think I should rather own my own toothbrush.”    
“You naturally would, under the old system,” assented the Hatter. “Under a system of private ownership, owning your own teeth, you’d prefer to own your own toothbrush, but our Council has just passed a law making teeth public property. You see we found that some people had teeth and other people hadn’t, which is hardly a fair condition under a Republican form of Government. It gave one class of citizens a distinct advantage over other people and the Declaration of Independ­ence demands absolute equality for all. One man owning his own teeth could eat all the hickory nuts he wanted just because he had teeth to crack ’em with, while another man not having teeth had either to swallow ’em whole, which ruined his digestion, or go without, which wasn’t fair.”    
“I see,” said Alice.    
A New Alice
John Kendrick Bangs (1862–1922) was born in Yonkers, New York, and is known for his work as an author, editor, and satirist. He worked for Life, a number of Harper’s periodicals, and Puck, perhaps the foremost American humour magazine of its day.

In Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream—first published in 1907—Bangs makes light of a range of economic issues familiar to his readers—these are quite topical and all-too familiar to today’s reader as well. High taxes, corporate greed, bribery, institutional corruption, and govern mental incompetence are amongst the themes of the book.

Bangs’ Alice in Blunderland relies more on absurdity than it does on nonsense, and some of the humour is indeed rather American. But Bangs’ success is to make his reader smile wryly rather than laugh out loud—for his satire is very much on target.


HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2010-07-04

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