Monday May 18, 2015

Curiouser and Curiouser

A University of Dayton Libraries exhibit will mark the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and celebrate a local book collector's gift of a colorful, whimsical special edition illustrated by Salvador Dali.

The exhibit will feature all 12 colorful, whimsical illustrations from the 1969 Dali folio as well as an 1866 first American edition illustrated by John Tenniel, both from the library's collections. The display will run May 30–Aug. 2 in Roesch Library's first-floor gallery during regular library hours, found here.

"The pairing of a 19th-century logician's tale with a master of 20th-century modern art might seem, by turns, shocking and a stroke of genius," said Margaret M. Strain, professor of English at the University. "That is precisely what makes this rare collaboration so remarkable.

"What links Carroll and Dali in the 1969 edition is their shared fascination with the fantastic, the dream world, and their respective cultures' reliance on space and time to order human experience. What better way to turn staid convention topsy-turvy than envision the world through the imagination of a child? And who better than a surrealist to express the world of unconscious desire, counter-logics and alternate realities that Alice encounters on her journey?"

Dali's illustrations, which all depict Alice as a girl skipping rope, contain many of the Spanish surrealist's signature touches — a melting watch, butterflies and objects out of proportion to one another. They were printed using the heliogravure process, in which the image is etched upon a copper plate and then placed on a hand-turned press, where special inks transfer to dampened etching paper to produce the image. Printed by hand in limited quantities, each print is considered an original.

The University displayed two of the Dali illustrations last year in the "Imprints and Impressions" rare books exhibit, which featured 50 books from the collection of Dayton-area businessman and rare-book collector Stuart Rose. Rose donated the Dali edition to the University. View the book’s commentary and a selection of images here

The idea for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is said to have come about in July 1862 on a picnic the author took with a friend's three daughters, one of whom was 10-year-old Alice Liddell. At Alice's request, Carroll, whose given name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, compiled the story into a hand-bound, author-illustrated manuscript in 1864 and presented it to her as a gift. It was published the next year with illustrations by Tenniel, an English cartoonist and illustrator.

The display will also include information about:
-Author Lewis Carroll and artist Salvador Dali
-The heliogravure process
-A brief history of the book, including illustrations used throughout its history

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland continues to be a source of creative inspiration. In honor of the anniversary, the 150Alice project has invited works by 150 noted illustrators from around the world to contribute to an edition marking the anniversary. View the illustrations http://www.150alice.com.

For more information, contact Katy Kelly, communications and outreach librarian, at 937-229-4274 or kkelly2@udayton.edu. For interviews with Margaret M. Strain, contact her at mstrain1@udayton.edu.

Related Links

Latest News