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27 May 2017
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Lewis Carroll certainly read that Victorian giant of literature, George Eliot (the pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans). His diary notes in 1858 that he began "Mr. Gilfil's love-story" from "Scenes of Clerical Life," although he doesn't say what he thought of it. After that, if he read anything more of her work, or noticed the mathematical references in it, we don't know about it.

So it doesn't seem as if her work grabbed him at the time. But, perhaps, if his shade is looking down on us, it would be interested to attend the next free Lewis Carroll Society talk which takes place next week on 2 June - and then perhaps paying Ms. Evans a call afterwards in Paradise to discuss it.

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(Yes, it's only a fanciful thought, but I like it.... )

In the talk, Derek Ball of Leicester University shares his work about Eliot's sometimes outrageous mathematical imagery, which he has found to be almost invariably associated with the tragicomedy in her novels.

The talk is free to attend, but if you want to come, please email secretary@lewiscarrollsociety.org.uk to say you will be coming so that they can get an idea of numbers. The talk will be held in the Gradidge Room of the Art Worker's Guild, which is a fascinating place in its own right, being one of the few unrestored Georgian houses in an 18th century Bloomsbury square, and full of the most beautiful work created by its members.

The Art Workers Guild is at 6 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT and all LCS meetings are held at 6:30 for 7:00 pm. Just ring the doorbell.

24 May 2017
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"Alice" is well known in Russia, and there are now more than 30 Russian translations of Alice. Perhaps that is not too surprising, since Lewis Carroll's overland trip to Russia and back was the only foreign journey he ever took in his life, and he was entranced and fascinated by the Russia he explored in the late 1860s.

Carroll, as a mathematician, was also particularly fond of geometry. Now, picking up on both these themes, artist and anglophile Yuri Vashenko reveals some of the geometry latent but invisible in Tenniel's original drawings, as well as introducing his own, in a new exhibition in London#s Pushkin House. (see address and details below). It runs from 1 June to 10 July.
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Along with the exhibition the following events are taking place in June and July:

On 2nd June the artist Yuri Vashenko is in conversation with Liza Dimbleby.
On 16th June, in "Growing up in Wonderland" Daria Kulesh and Marina Osman explore the ambiguous wonderland of their Soviet childhood through song.
On 18th July (after the exhibition finishes) there is a talk by Kiera Vaclavik of Queen Mary college, on: 'Alice Grows Up: Russian Emigrees and the Making of a Style Icon'.

There will also be a screening of ‘Alice’ (1987) an animation masterpiece from the end of the Soviet Period by Polish filmmaker Jan Švankmajer.

Further details are to be confirmed.

Pushkin House is at:
5A Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2TA
Tel: 020 7269 9770

There are more details of these events on the Pushkin House website, which can be accessed here
12 May 2017
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A few weeks ago I went to see Alice's Adventures Underground, in the Vaults beneath London's Waterloo station. This promenade performance is a tidied up version of a show that was a smash hit in 2015 (see reviews here and here)

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This time round, some effort has been made to insert a plot - no easy task when the point of the performance is to make sure that you never have the same experience twice. Audiences of some 50-odd are cleverly split into groups of no more than 14, each weaving their way in a kind of intricate choreography through a maze of sets ranging from the Gardeners' potting shed (full of red paint, of course) to the Duchess's crazy kitchen, with much more besides - the Caterpillar's shisha lounge, for instance, or weedledum and Tweedledee flying overhead as alarmingly as any Monstrous Crow, while arguing all the time...

I found it hard to follow the plot, but it really didn't matter at all. The whole experience is pretty psychedelic, so it's best to go with the flow - or, turn on, tune in and drop out. As for Alice, she was hardly to be seen, except for a few glimpses in mirrors, and a dancing figure on a zoetrope, and an unexpected appearance at the very end, just before the entire trial scene shut itself up like a pack of cards.

It's a clever, amazing experience, best for those who are fairly active and reasonably sober (you wait in a bar beforehand, and emerge into a cocktail lounge/games room at the very end.) The surfaces are rough and constantly changing, there are flights of stairs and rubber floors and narrow, awkward tunnels. No photos are allowed during the performance - not that there is really time to take any - but here are some of the photos I took in the bar. I left out the ones of me playing flamingo croquet or downing cocktails!

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If you want to go, head over to this website and click the big green door. The little door leads to a different show aimed at kids - and that looks fun too. Tickets are from Ł39, a reasonable price for such an elaborate, immersive experience with such a multi talented cast.


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