Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Abelardo Morell
Morell said that traveling to Wonderland would be “much like that of walking across the pages of a story—like going deep into a book.” In his version of Alice's Adventures, real books abound. The rabbit hole is actually cut into and goes down the center of a book. Tenniel's rabbit is left slightly out of focus, while the rabbit hole that leads to where this story will take us, Morell keeps sharp. When Alice and Gryphon listen to the Mock Turtle’s tale, they sit - not on Tenniel’s drawn sand and rocks, but on stacks of books by the shore. The Mad Hatter’s tea table is a thick, tableclothed book as well. And as Alice grows after eating a mysterious cake, her hand is actually pushing out of a book that she is squashed inside of. Finally upright, she is taller than a stack of endless books and her cut-out casts her long shadow upon them all. These images are quite imaginative and stunning.
Lewis Carroll, born and known by his peers as, Charles Dodgson, was a praised pioneer in early photography. One would imagine that he would appreciate how Morell bridged Carroll's illustrator of choice with Dodgson's hobby of choice; photography. His only complaint might be with regard to the number of images Morell used. The story's lengthy poem, You Are Old, Father William, could better be served by, at least, one image (Tenniel had used three.) An additional image in the Pig and Pepper chapter - one depicting Alice holding the baby that has just turned into a pig, or of the crazed Dutchess, would surely be enjoyed. The Hatter, who is such a memorable character, seems deserving of more than one image as well. And when the Queen’s cards are painting the white roses red, and the croquet game is in full swing á la flamingo mallets and hedgehog balls, again, more images would lend support to Carroll’s tale. They would also maintain a modern feel throughout. Tenniel used 42 illustrations; here, Morell chose 19. While we are definitely left wanting more, thankfully, each Tenniel drawing is made "curiouser and curiouser” by Morell's imaginative touch. The real smoke and shadows in the photographs allow a playful darkness found in Carroll’s words to come to life. Morell's Alice is truly one of the best to date and one worthy of the story’s kingly decree: “Begin at the beginning,…and then go till you come to the end: then stop.” Morell's images may have you following this kingly advice many times over.
This edition seems out of print, but is easily found through second-hand sellers.