It seems like a perfect match, the master of Surrealist painting, Salvador Dali illustrating a classic of nonsense literature, Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In 1969, Dali produced thirteen illustrations for a special edition of Carroll’s book published by Maecenas Press-Random House, New York. Dali made twelve heliogravures of original gouaches for each of the book’s twelve chapters, and one engraving for the frontispiece. Dali’s work is startling and beautiful, but at times seems slightly unrelated to the original source material. Even so, they are quite delightful.
Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’
The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.
`Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English); `now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet, they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).
They were indeed a queer-looking party that assembled on the bank—the birds with draggled feathers, the animals with their fur clinging close to them, and all dripping wet, cross, and uncomfortable.
It was the White Rabbit, trotting slowly back again, and looking anxiously about as it went, as if it had lost something; and she heard it muttering to itself `The Duchess! The Duchess! Oh my dear paws! Oh my fur and whiskers! She’ ll get me executed, as sure as ferrets are ferrets! Where CAN I have dropped them, I wonder?’
The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.
`Who are YOU?’ said the Caterpillar.
The baby grunted again, and Alice looked very anxiously into its face to see what was the matter with it. There could be no doubt that it had a VERY turn-up nose, much more like a snout than a real nose; also its eyes were getting extremely small for a baby: altogether Alice did not like the look of the thing at all.
There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, resting their elbows on it, and the talking over its head. `Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse,’ thought Alice; `only, as it’s asleep, I suppose it doesn’t mind.’
When the procession came opposite to Alice, they all stopped and looked at her, and the Queen said severely `Who is this?’ She said it to the Knave of Hearts, who only bowed and smiled in reply.
They had not gone far before they saw the Mock Turtle in the distance, sitting sad and lonely on a little ledge of rock, and, as they came nearer, Alice could hear him sighing as if his heart would break. She pitied him deeply. `What is his sorrow?’ she asked the Gryphon, and the Gryphon answered, very nearly in the same words as before, `It’s all his fancy, that: he hasn’t got no sorrow, you know. Come on!’
So they went up to the Mock Turtle, who looked at them with large eyes full of tears, but said nothing.
`You may not have lived much under the sea—’ (`I haven’t,’ said Alice)—`and perhaps you were never even introduced to a lobster—’ (Alice began to say `I once tasted—’ but checked herself hastily, and said `No, never’) `—so you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!’
The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them—all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them—`I wish they’d get the trial done,’ she thought, `and hand round the refreshments!’ But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her, to pass away the time.
`Oh, I’ve had such a curious dream!’ said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, `It WAS a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it’s getting late.’ So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.
Via the William Bennett Gallery