Lílian Moreira and João Queiroz

Alice in Translation Land ­ What to bring to the surface in Lewis Carroll’s work

Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, namely Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and Trough the Looking Glass And What Alice Found There are certainly one of the most intersemiotically transposed and translated literary classics over the last 150 years. A number of illustration, plays, ballets, songs, movies, TV shows and others was made by renowned and lesser known artists.

Two notable examples seem to have escaped more usual analysis, a 1988 surrealist film with a blend of stop motion animation by multiple prize winner Czech director Jan Švankmajer, called Neco z Alenky, and The Muppet Show, a famous TV series aired from 1976 to 1981 featuring puppets and a human guest, created by Jim Henson, in which an episode from the fifth season starred Brooke Shields playing Alice in 1980.

Why does this work inspire so many translations? What are the choices translators make when recreating Carroll? We intend to compare these transpositions of Alice’s stories, capturing seemingly distinct characteristics, but both of fundamental importance to the source: (i) The oneiric ambience in which the story is set and the permissiveness that it creates, allowing, for example, nonsense, amorality and lack of objective (ii) Linguistic games (such as paronomasia).