Lewis Carroll and Drugs

Lewis Carroll and Drugs

The idea that Lewis Carroll was on drugs or stoned when he wrote Alice is completely false. It was in the 1960’s that adherents from the new LSD subculture began to spread rumors that his stories and crazy imaginative characters were a product of some drug stupor. Psychiatrists who first introduced LSD into society are believed to be responsible for the origins of these rumors.

The rumors suggested that it was not Carroll’s incredibly fertile imagination that could be credited for his ingenious written material, but rather a drug. Such rumors are considered a huge marketing success for the psychiatry industry. They effectively instill the belief that taking drugs may be a helpful alternative to a dull and boring existence. The rumors have no factual source and there exists no evidence that in any way or form connects Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) with the use of mind-altering drugs.

In fact, when Lewis Carroll was alive and living in England in the 1800’s, drugs such as LSD or any type of stimulants and hallucinogens did not exist.

In the 1950’s, LSD was handed out to a native American Hopi Tribe, who unsuspectingly participated as volunteers in research, by making drawings after taking the drug. The psychiatrists had hired an art expert, who examined the results and concluded that they were art. While still high from the LSD, the Hopi artists decided that they preferred the LSD-induced art to their old traditional Hopi art. Today, the Hopi tribe are known for their artistic creations of colorful life traditions and the Hopi-LSD art does not feature.

Lewis Carroll, was not on drugs. However, he was a very shy math professor at Oxford. He had a stammer, and because of this found it difficult to make friends. He had many child-friends and was most comfortable in their company. These were mostly little girls. Scholars often debate about the fact of his interest in little girls being creepy. While some argue that these friendships were entirely platonic and completely acceptable and normal for the time period, others prefer to accuse him of pedophilia.

Not all individuals are aware that the character of Alice, was based on the life of a real little girl, Alice Liddell. She was the youngest daughter of Dean Henry Liddell, Carroll’s friend. The original manuscript was called Alice’s Adventures Underground. He later revised the name to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The book was published in 1865. It was on a boat trip in 1862 that Lewis Carroll began making up the Alice stories. He did this while attempting to amuse the daughters of his friend Dean Liddell. He then recorded the tales he had told the girls. The story that Queen Victoria loved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and requested that Lewis Carroll send her a copy of his next book, is a myth. It is said that he sent her a mathematical treatise, which was called Symbolic Logic. Carroll publicly admitted that there is no truth to this story. However, it is true that he wrote Symbolic Logic.

It is commonly believed that his use of symbolism is what makes Carroll’s Alice stories important literary works. Alice books became trend setting literature precisely because they lacked hidden meaning. These books were a complete break from deep rooted traditional children’s literature when first published. Children’s stories were centered on moral outcomes during the Victorian era when Lewis Carroll was alive. Victorian tales did not do much to inspire the imagination or entertain. The were mainly used as tools for the promotion of prudent and ethical behavior in children. This was in fact mocked in the story of The Mock Turtle, Chapter 9 of Alice. Alice’s opinion of the Duchess clearly states that she is fond of finding morals everywhere.

There was also a rumor that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile. This is completely false. The interesting thing about this rumor is that Carroll most likely became a victim of his very own superior writing skills. Lewis Carroll affirmed quite strongly that he was more fond of young girls than he was of young boys, in his writing. However there has never been any evidence to suggest that his interest was of a sexual nature.

We know that he was particularly fond of the Liddell children and that Alice Liddell was supposed to be the inspiration for his most famous work. However, at some time, an incident occurred that was the cause of him being banished from their home. No-one knows what the incident was. It will probably remain unknown. This may have been written in his diary, which was either lost or most likely destroyed by his family. The Liddells never said anything. They lived in a time when any kind of scandal was immediately hushed up as a matter of course. According to rumor, he may have asked Alice, who was then only eight years old to marry him.

This could have possibly been the incident or it may have been worse. It seems that the modern-day obsession with types of symbolism that are to be found in Carroll’s stories could be something that has been carried over from the Victoria era. Traditional scholars still seem to be searching for missing moral significances in his work. Although, not only Carroll, but any writer or storyteller is bound to base his characters on personal experience, Lewis Carroll’s intentions were to produce original stories that were filled with a lot of creative nonsense and very little else. He believed that this type of story would be most appealing to the imagination-starved children of that time. The Alice stories are vitally important because they transcend all cultures and all time. They are extremely popular in Japan and have been worldwide for more than a hundred years. People of all age groups are still reading these fun stories.