In a this world which could be aptly discribed, a la the Kinks, as a mixed-up, jumbled-up, shook-up world, certain books offer a necessary respite. I found Alice to be the wonderful delightful world through the looking glass or down the rabbit hole escape that literature ought to be, but rarely ever is. There is no point to the madness, no explanation, no tidy ending. It is just wake up and it is over, just like a dream. Having never read Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass as a child, I was unaccustomed to such sheer escapism, at least not in books. But after pondering the world Lewis Carroll created and the path he forged, I realized he has forged a path very few artists have ever fully trodden since. Sure, many of them have thought outside of the box (I thought of the Kinks (Muswell Hillbillies album in particular), probably some Robert Jordan, and yes Tim Burton), but very few have experience for the sake of experience. In our modern world there has to be a reason, some psycho-analyitical background for the story (and many critcs try to do that to Carroll), but what I got out of it was exactly what should be gotten out of it: finishing a story to turn to your bedfellow and say, "I just had the most strange read. It was missing an 'M'."
As a side note on the movie created by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. There was something missing to the story, or rather something added that did not fit. Burton attempted to tie this world up in a nice little bow and make it a moral story, a buildungsroman. Carrol's vision did not have room for this. He created a complete world and then walked away like it wasn't even there. That is the difference between him and the artists who followed after him. It didn't need a reason to exist and yet fully did. Burton felt he needed to give "Underland" a context, he was wrong.
Rating - 5.5 for the books, 3 for the movie version