The Evertype editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Originally conceived by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson as a story to amuse Alice Liddell and her sisters during a boat trip at Oxford, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in 1865 under the author’s pseudonym of Lewis Carroll. It has not been out of print since it first appeared.
Alice is timeless and with over 125 translations, the storyline and characters are universally recognised, as are the illustrations by Sir John Tenniel.
Michael Everson, linguist and publisher, whose publishing company, Evertype, was for many years located in Westport, Co. Mayo, has produced more than fifty editions of Alice: both the original, a multitude of translations, imitations and parodies. There is a political satire: The Westminster Alice by Saki. An “economic parody”, Alice in Blunderland (1907), still holds relevance and provokes a smile today.
Translations abound. Alice was first translated (into German) in 1869 and this collection features versions in European languages including Latin and Esperanto. The Celtic languages have versions in Irish, Welsh, Manx and versions in Irish and Cornish by UCD’s Professor N.J.A. Williams. Dialects as distinct from languages are represented by Plattdüütsch (Low German) and Ulster Scots.
There are many unusual or quirky adaptations and imitations including a re-publication of a 1905 version in words of one syllable – the author cheats slightly by using hyphenation. There is even a version in Nyctographic, a square cipher alphabet invented by Lewis Carroll himself.
It seems that not much of the “sense” of the book is lost in translation – Alice’s bewilderment at the madness of Wonderland shines through no matter what the language or dialect.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice. “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
Or as in the Ulster Scot’s translation:
“But A dinnae want tae gin amang mad fowk,” Alice remarkt. “Oh, yae cannae help that,” said the Cat. “Wae’r aal mad here. A’m mad. Yae’r mad.”