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  • Letters From Alice to Dinah
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Katherine Menjivar
Practice of Criticism
Optional Project
Dear Dinah,
You are currently drinking the milk from your saucer-pan and as I lay down my just finished copy of Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, I got the urge to write you this letter. I feel that letters have a way of expressing more than I could tell you in person because with your playful ways I could never hold a conversation with you for so long without boring you. Well, I wanted to tell you about this book I just finished reading by the author Fay Weldon. It is about an aunt who writes to her niece about literature and writing, and her own thoughts about Jane Austen. I picked it not only because it is written to an Alice, though I must admit that I pretended that the letters were written to me made the reading more enjoyable, but also because I wanted to hear other people's opinions about books. To me, what is the use of a book, without pictures or conversation? Which is why, I enjoyed reading Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen, because it is filled with conversation.
My favorite line in the entire book is "Even in sleep you are not safe: dreams pertain to life, and life to dreams." As I read it over and over, I thought about experiences in Wonderland that I cannot help telling you about. Remember, Dinah, what I told you about it, it was a journey about life and its many eccentricities. It started off with reading a book I didn't enjoy, and drifting away until I was falling into the Rabbit Hole. Down, down, down, I went and the entire time I could not help asking myself, Would the fall never come to an end? People fall down many times, but how long can they go doing so, without picking themselves up, Dinah? When I did touch ground though, I was surrounded by many doors, I didn't know which one to go through because there was no key to open them with! So I tried again, and found another curtain I had missed, and it opened the passageway to the most beautiful garden I had ever seen! I can imagine the mesmerized look you give me when I tell you of the beauty of such a place. I am stalling now- I am supposed to be telling you about the book of letters. So, Dinah I liked that quote because the author is a genius! Feldon had Aunt Fay write to her niece that even in dreams humans aren't safe, and she was right! When I was in Wonderland, l I thought about going home. There I thought to myself, 'Dinah'll miss me very much to-night, I should think! Dinah my dear! I wish you were down here with me! There are no mice in the air, I'm afraid, but you might catch a bat, and that's very like a mouse, you know.' Now that I remember, I never asked you if you missed me while I was gone. Did you miss me Dinah? At the sound of my voice, you turn and look at me with a perplexed look, you must think I told you it is time to play.
Anyways, even in dreams I was reminded about life. I got confused for a maid remember? The Rabbit walked in and yelled to me, " Why, Mary Ann, what are you doing out here? Run home this moment, and fetch me a pair of gloves and a fan! Quick, now!" He frightened me and I obeyed. As I ran away I thought to myself, 'How queer it seems, to be going messages for a rabbit! I suppose Dinah'll be sending me on messages next!' Now, would you command me to do anything for you Dinah? Be honest though.
It was in moments like those that I started to convince myself that Wonderland was going to affect me so much that I would start acting differently. Who would I be then, if that happened to me? I question too much, you think? I just cannot help wondering what I don't know, so I dream while I am awake, and I dream when I am a sleep. I dream about my life, and a different life. Is that what Fay Weldon had Aunt Fay believe, that we just cannot save ourselves from dreaming because they awaken us to reality, to life? That what we dream is sometimes what we would like to happen to us, or what we don't understand. If that is the case, I will always dream, because there is so much I don't understand. Like now, while you are purring before me, I wonder what you are thinking about. Perhaps, you are ready to take that nap. Well, I will end this letter, I will read it to you later after we awake.
Your most loving owner & friend,
Alice

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  1. Unknown User (mee2)

    LOVE this, kathy. as soon as i saw it in class, i smiled :)  too bad you couldn't show a copy of this to paku. what brought it home for me was the fact that it is wrtten in an almost identical voice to aunt fay. great agency! haha