Archive for March 14th, 2015

Lewis Carroll: A Biography by Morton N Cohen.

Paperback: 577 pages
Publisher: Vintage (November 26, 1996)
ISBN-10: 0679745629

From Library Journal

In his time, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was known to the world as an outstanding pioneer photographer of children, particularly of female children, as well as for being the author Lewis Carroll. One of Dodgson’s “child-friends,” Alice Lidell, served as the inspiration for his literary Alice. These child-friend associations subjected Dodgson to public scrutiny, gossip, and suspicion concerning his emotional and sexual proclivities, suppressed though they may have been. Dodgson chose to “let them talk.” Biographer Cohen (Lewis Carroll: Interviews and Recollections, Univ. of Iowa Pr., 1988) uses previously unavailable family and personal documents, diaries, and letters to show that the shy bachelor Dodgson, Oxford mathematics don and lecturer, held himself to the strictest of moral codes. While Lewis Carroll has been probed and analyzed by countless writers (see, for instance, John Pudney’s Lewis Carroll and His World, 1976), this book is about the intimate and complex life of the man behind all those who lived on the other side of the looking glass

Now and then I enjoy reading biographies or autobiographies, so when I saw this book in on of those many thrift shops, looking brand spankin’ new and with that great cover.. I brought it home!   But even that great cover didn’t make the book any better.

Three times I was ready to give up on it…it seemed to just keep repeating itself over and over about the fact that Charles Dodgson (C.S. Lewis) had this thing for very young girls.  But when reading between the lines one can be pretty assured that he certainly had deep feelings for girls under puberty age, that nothing happened except the told stories and all the children grew up still loving him.. which they would not do if he was not anything but exceptionally kind to them.

I did learn something I never knew and that was that Dodgson when to Oxford as a Mathematician and grew in his speciality to Professor and a Don.  He met many people who also was at Oxford such as Tennyson but always he tried to make acquaintances with those who had young children.

Besides lecturing about Math (which was not easy as Dodgson had a slight stutter), he became prolific in photography.  Back then it meant he had to have his own dark room to work the negative immediately after taking a photo.

Dodgson was a very strange man. Up to the end he would rather have dinner with a 12 yr old than anyone he might know.

I am going to admit that of the 577 pages in this book I thoroughly read about 400 and then I started skimming to the end.  I wish the author mentioned things that were also happening in the world that might have had an affect on Dodgson, which was something that was neglected.   Giving a quick search on Amazon I see there are many biographies on C.S. Lewis…I don’t think I am interested enough to try a different author but if you are interested, I might try one other then this one.  But then again, to someone else this one might be the best one!  (heh, glad I could help in your decision! )

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