The White Queen Called It, Living Backwards

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The White Queen called it “living backwards.” She was referring, of course, to life on the other side of a looking glass. Indeed, traveling through a looking glass, if it were possible, would be a contortion of space, a reversal of the orderly world in the “frontward” side of the glass with the disorder found in the “backward” side. Everything would, like the queen said, be turned around. So if someone in Victorian England squeezed herself through a looking glass, she might find, instead of the classic Victorian ideal of the tranquil home where the husband brought home the bacon and the wife happily cooked it, homes in which strong wives dominated weak, ineffectual husbands and husbands who, instead of coming home each evening to restore themselves within the loving familial bond, escaped that bond by taking long naps and dreaming strange dreams. Indeed, instead of finding homes in which the spaces between marriage partners were narrowed, someone wandering through a looking glass world would find emotional gulfs between partners, gulfs that even the most stringent Victorian ideals could not close. These emotional spaces in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass and What Alice Found There can be seen through another lens as well. While Alice, the book’s heroine, metaphorically grows into adulthood as she moves her way across the fictional chessboard, the author remains static; Carroll watches wistfully as the emotional space between himself and
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