Read Me tag on Alice in Wonderland edition illustrated by Iassen Ghiuselev

A new edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland came out this month in Bulgaria, illustrated by the prominent Bulgarian artist Iassen Ghiuselev.

Iassen is one of those people who are more famous and recognized abroad than at home, despite the fact that he lives in Bulgaria most of the time. The illustrator works for major publishing houses in the USA, Europe and Asia, and has won several international awards. Among the stories he has illustrated are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Pinocchio, Don Quixote, Oliver Twist, the fairy tales of Brothers Grimm, Oscar Wilde, and John Ruskin, and more.

The illustrated edition of Lewis Carroll’s book that just came out in Bulgaria has been in circulation in Canada and parts of Europe since 2000 thanks to Simply Read Books, Vancouver. In order to draw Alice, Iassen mixes Gothic imagery with Escher-style impossible perspective and modern techniques to convey his interpretation of the dream-like Wonderland.

Take a magic tour through the Iassen Ghiuselev’s official website.

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Last week, I visited Christ Church College in Oxford, where in 1856, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, met his inspiration for his famous novels Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Alice and the Queen of Hearts, illustration by Iassen Ghiuselev

In 1856, while Dodgson was a mathematics tutor and a logician at Oxford, a new Dean, Henry Liddell, arrived at Christ Church together with his family.  Dodgson became close friends with the Liddell family and began inventing stories to amuse their three girls: Lorina, Edith and Alice.

Dodgson based his novel on real life elements but with a magical twist: the Mad-Hatter’s tea party and the Queen of Hearts’ game of cricket are fantastic allusions to typical British past-times. The Dodo is a caricature of the author himself who stuttered and often mispronounced his last name as Dodo-Dodgson. The White Rabbit is based on Dean Liddell himself. The book is also full of anagrams and logics problems which contribute to the twisted sense of time and space in Wonderland.

Walking around Christ Church is amazing because you recognize many of the novels’ elements: in the college’s marvelous Great Hall, you can see the brass long-necked ornaments around the fireplace (remember, Alice’s neck grows tall like a serpent’s), the dodo in the stained glass window, and the downward spiral staircase behind the Dean’s table (the rabbit’s hole).

Curious to learn more about Bulgarian fairy tales? Read my post about the Slavic samodivi.

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