Alice’s Adventures in Russia

In honor of a rather silly book I read about a high school girl with a crush, I give you this article on the journey Lewis Carroll’s classic took in the Soviet Union. A choice excerpt:

Demurova’s translation was used for two significant Soviet tributes to Carroll. One of these was a vinyl double-disk recording of “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” performed by top Soviet actors in 1974. The moving force of that enterprise was the cult actor, singer and songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky, who wrote all the songs and performed a couple of the parts. Vysotsky was frowned upon by officials, so some brave and drastic steps had to be taken to save the record from prohibition. For example, the poet Bella Akhmadulina gave an interview to the influential weekly Literaturnaya Gazeta in which she congratulated readers on the New Year and promised them a wonderful present in the form of a new, musical fairy tale. After that, it became much harder for censors to pull the plug. The lines from Vysotsky’s version still form the regular stock of quotes for people of my generation.

The second masterpiece was created in 1981-82 at the Kievnauchfilm movie studio. Animator Efrem Pruzhansky made a pair of cartoons based on “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequel “Through the Looking-Glass.” A far cry from the syrupy Disney version, these cartoons portray Wonderland as darkish, strange, absurd and sentimental — in other words, very close to Carroll’s original.

I would love to see that movie version. I’m working on a project right now that’s using a lot of elements from Alice in Wonderland, and I can’t wrap my brain around how obsession-inducing this book is. I re-read it, and I feel like I understand it less now that I’m an adult, if that makes sense.

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