Illustrating Alice in Wonderland in the New Millennium: New Meanings for an Evergreen Children’s Classic


  • Salvatore Ciancitto University of Catania


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Children's literature in translation, Illustrated books, Intersemiotic translation, Intrasemiotic translation


The link between words and pictures is an internal feature of children’s literature. This bundle of meanings can be a real challenge for the translator, who has to work both on words and on the pictures and their relation to the words. All this is particularly important when a text has been originated with pictures as an integral part of it, with continuous inter-referential connections between words and pictures and whose illustrations were decided by the author of the book, as it is the case for “Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll, a text which had been re-translated and reedited several times, by providing it with new sets of images. Thus, the aim of this paper is to show the visual representations of Alice in the last decade, comparing the original drawings by Tenniel with the pictures used in Italian publications, in the attempt to unveil new ways in which Carroll’s character and her world have moved from a Victorian fantasy in order to gain eventually new cultural meanings.

KEYWORDS: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Children’s Literature in Translation, Illustrated Books, Intersemiotic Translation, Intrasemiotic Translation


Primary Sources

Carroll, L. (1865) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. New York: D. Appleton.

Carroll, L. (2010) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Novara: Deagostini.

Carroll, L. (2011) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Milano (Cornaredo): Edizioni Margherita.

Carroll, L. (2012) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Milano: Einaudi Ragazzi.

Carroll, L. (2012) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Milano: ReNoir.

Carroll, L. (2018) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Varese: Edizioni Crescere.

Carroll, L. (2021) Alice nel Paese delle Meraviglie. Milano: L’Ippocampo.

Secondary Sources

Bader, B. (1976), American Picturebooks from Noah’s Ark to the Beast Within. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company.

Beseghi, E. (2017). ‘Il sogno di Alice. I 150 anni di Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’. Studi sulla Formazione, 20, 37-50, (2) pp.37-50.

Castellani, C. (2017) ‘Carroll e Tenniel: le immagini di Alice’. Studi sulla Formazione, 20 (2), pp. 103-117.

Citati, P. (1987) ‘Dietro lo specchio’ in Carroll L., Alice nel paese delle meraviglie. Milano: Mondadori.

Clayton, E. (2011). Alice in Wonderland through the Visual Arts. London: Tate Publishing.

Cohen, M.N. and Wakeling, E. (2003) Lewis Carroll and his Illustrators. Collaborations and Correspondence, 1865-1898. New York: Cornell University.

D’Amico, M. (1990) Lewis Carroll. Attraverso lo specchio. Pordenone: Studio Tesi.

Delisle J., Lee-Jahnke H., Cormier M.C. (1999) Terminologie de la Traduction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Douglas- Fairhurst, R. (2015). The Story of Alice. Lewis Carroll and the Secret Story of Wonderland. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press.

Dybiec-Gajer, J., Oittinen, R., Kodura M. (eds) (2020) Negotiating Translation and Transcreation of Children's Literature. From Alice to the Moomins. Singapore: Springer.

Faeti, A. (2010) Gli amici ritrovati. Tra le righe dei grandi romanzi per ragazzi. Milano: Rizzoli.

Frias Y., (2012) ‘Paratextual Elements in Translation: Paratranslating Titles in Children’s Lirerature’ in Gil-Bardaji A, Orero P., Rovira- Esteva S. (eds). Translation Pheriphrasis. Paratextual Elements in Translation. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, pp. 117-134.

Gonzàlez Davies M. and Oittinen R. (eds) (2008). Whose Story? Translating the Verbal and the Visual in Literature for Young Readers. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholar Publishing.

Hancer, M. (1985). The Tenniel Illustrations to the Alice Books. Ohio: Ohio State University Press.

Hunt, P. (2006). Children’s Literature. Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. London and New York: Routledge.

Jackobson, R. (1959) On Linguistic Aspects of Translation. Cambridge, Massachussets, Harvard University Press.

Jaques, Z. and Giddens, E. (2016) Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass: A Publishing History. London: Routledge.

Katan. D. (2016) ‘Translation at the cross-roads: Time for the transcreational turn?’ Perspectives Studies in Translatology , 24(3), pp. 1-16.

Klingberg, G. (2008) Facets of Children’s Literature Research: collected and revised writing. Stokholm: The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books’.

Kress, G. and van Leeuwen, T. (2021) Reading Images. The Grammar of Visual Design. 3rd Edition. London: Routledge.

Lathey, G. (2016) Translating Children’s Literature. London: Routledge.

Lewis D. (2001) Reading Contemporary Picturebooks. Picturing text. London & New York; Routledge.

Lo Feudo, G. (2013) ‘Dall’iconico al verbale: traduzione intersemiotica e corrispondenze estetiche. Una ricerca empirica’. Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 7 (1), pp. 58-92.

Lurie, A. (1990) Don’t Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children’s Literature. Boston: Little Brown.

McConnell S. (2016) ‘Creating the illusion of movement: how do children's illustrated books embody visual sequential movement?’. Interjuli, 02 (16), pp. 104-123.

Moebius, W. (1986) ‘Introduction to picturebook codes’. Word & Image, 2(2), pp.141-158, DOI: 10.1080/02666286.1986.10435598 (Accessed: 08/03/2023).

O’ Sullivan, E. (2006). ‘Translating Pictures’ in Lathey, G. (ed) The Translation of Children’s Literature: A Reader. Clevendon: Multilingual Matter.

O’Sullivan, E. (2011). ‘Imagology meets Children’s Literature’. International Research in Children’s Literature, 4 (1), pp. 1-14.

Peirce, C. S. (1931–1935). The collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce. Electronic edition reproducing Vols. eds. I-VI [C. Hartshorne, and P. Weiss, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931-1935]; Vols. VII-VIII [A. W. Burks (ed.), same publisher, 1958]. Charlottesville: Intelex Corporation.

Pereira, N. M. (2008). ‘Book Illustration as (Intersemiotic) Translation: Pictures Translating Words’. Meta, 53(1), pp. 104–119, URL: (Accessed: 08/03/2023).

Shavit, Z. (1986) Translation of Children’s Literature. The University of Georgia Press, London.

Toury, G. (1980) In Search of a Theory of Translation. Tel Aviv: The Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics.

Vanderrgrift, K. E (1980) Child and Story: The Literary Connection. New York: Neal Schuman.

Zanettin, F. (2011) ‘La traduzione del linguaggio non verbale nei fumetti’ in Baccolini R., Chiaro, D., Rundle, C. and Whitsitt, S. (eds) Minding the Gap: Studies in Linguistic and Cultural Exchange, Vol. II. Bologna: Bononia University Press, pp. 573-588.