Alice in Dataland pursued by the ‘Fonix’. Illustration: Steve Fricker
An exciting discovery at Christ Church, Oxford University, has revealed hitherto unseen pages from what appears to be a draft for a third Alice novel following Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass. Underneath the floorboards in the room once occupied by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), several sheets of paper in Dodgson’s own handwriting were found a few weeks ago. Michael Rosen has deciphered these and in an exclusive, presents them for Education Guardian.
‘Strong and stable! Strong and stable!” the Blue Queen called out.
“She’s strong and stable,” echoed the Blue Men standing next to her, in a soothing singsong way.
“Is she strong and stable?” said Alice.
“No,” said one of the Blue Men.
“Then why are you saying it?” said Alice.
“So that everyone will think that she’s strong and stable,” said the Blue Man.
“But I can see her wobbling,” said Alice.
“What you say you see is not the same as you see what you say,” said the Blue Man.
“I agree,” said Alice, “I can’t see what you say I can see.”
The Blue Man clicked his fingers and the Gibberwock, his eyes flashing, his cheeks covered in exclamation marks, his jumper covered in fronted adverbials, appeared in a puff of smoke .
“Can you read?” said the Gibberwock with a stern look on its face.
“Of course I can read,” said Alice.
“You can’t read if you can’t decode,” the Gibberwock snapped back.
“Can you decode?”
“I don’t know,” Alice said, “I don’t think we did decoding when my parents taught me to read.”
“Aha!” said the Gibberwock, “then you haven’t learned to read properly.”
“Oh, I have,” said Alice.
“You haven’t,” said the Gibberwock. He beckoned towards some small but perfectly formed creatures.
“Fonix!” the Gibberwock called out to them, “take her away to do some decoding.”
The Fonix called out in chorus: “First, fast and only! First, fast and only!” and Alice felt herself being rushed out of the room, along a corridor, into a room, where there were tables and chairs. On the chairs were large pieces of cardboard, cut and folded into the shapes of children. Just as Alice walked in, the teacher was greeting them:
“Good morning, Data.”
“Good morning, Mr Sats, good morning everyone,” said the cutouts.
“This morning,” said Mr Sats, “I’m going to find out if you’ve all learned Gibberwocky.”
One of the Data stood up and recited: