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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Curiouser and Curiouser 愛麗絲夢遊仙境 - 白兔先生

Updated: Jan 14

“How long is forever?

Sometimes just one second”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (commonly Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 English children's novel by Lewis Carroll (a pseudonym of Charles Dodgson). A young girl named Alice falls through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world of anthropomorphic creatures. It is seen as a prime example of the literary nonsense genre. Its play with logic gives the story lasting popularity with adults as well as children.

One of the best-known works of Victorian English fiction, its narrative, structure, characters and imagery have had huge influence on popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre. The book has never been out of print and has been translated into at least 97 languages. Its legacy covers adaptations for stage, screen, radio, art, ballet, theme parks, board games and video games.

The White Rabbit is a fictional and anthropomorphic character in Lewis Carroll's 1865 book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He appears at the very beginning of the book, in chapter one, wearing a waistcoat, and muttering "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" Alice follows him down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Alice encounters him again when he mistakes her for his housemaid Mary Ann and she becomes trapped in his house after growing too large. The Rabbit shows up again in the last few chapters, as a herald-like servant of the King and Queen of Hearts.

In his article "Alice on the Stage", Carroll wrote, "And the White Rabbit, what of him? Was he framed on the 'Alice' lines, or meant as a contrast? As a contrast, distinctly. For her 'youth', 'audacity', 'vigour', and 'swift directness of purpose', read 'elderly', 'timid', 'feeble', and 'nervously shilly-shallying', and you will get something of what I meant him to be. I think the White Rabbit should wear spectacles. I'm sure his voice should quaver, and his knees quiver and his whole air suggest a total inability to say 'Boo' to a goose!"

Overall, the White Rabbit seems to shift back and forth between pompous behaviour toward his underlings, such as his servants, and grovelling, obsequious behaviour toward his superiors, such as the Duchess, and the King and Queen of Hearts, in direct contrast to Alice, who is reasonably polite to everyone she meets.

The White Rabbit's perennial unpunctuality is a nod to Oxford time, the tradition at Oxford (and especially Christ Church, where Carroll taught) of having events begin five minutes past the scheduled hour.

Alice in Wonderland is a popular theme during the Venice Carnevale. In the storybook, the White Rabbit, leads Alice into a wonderland of magic and disbelief. While Alice is in wonderland, she learnt a lot about herself and the world around her. Just as the White Rabbit in the storybook, veteran Venetian mask costumer Corrine Curti leads us into the very beautiful and mysterious world of the Venetian masks. And just as Alice says "curiouser and curiouser, " the land seems stranger every time we find a wonderful new masked costumer. Within the backdrops of the medieval city, we appear to be all in a real fairy tale world. And of course, in this fabulous world of the Venetian masks and their outrageous costumes “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

During the Venice Carnevale, the best portraits are often done at secluded spots away from San Marco's Square where the Masked people are much more at ease. The secret in photographing the Masks is to concentrate on the eyes. For me, photos with the eyes not visible, closed eyes, blinking eyes, and eyes looking at the wrong directions are all discarded. Often, the veteran masked costumers all have their very own places where they like to hang out on their own to enjoy Venice away from the crowds or have their very own private gatherings.

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