Alice and the Red Queen running hand in hand — Illustration to the second chapter of Through the Looking Glass by John Tenniel. Wood-engraving by the Dalziels.

They were running hand in hand, and the Queen went so fast that it was all she could do to keep up with her.... The most curious part of the thing was, that the trees and the other things around them never seemed to change their places at all.

Compare the way in which the picture conveys the sense of speed amid stasis with the imagery in the text. In what ways — or to what extent — has the picture captured the paradoxical contrast conveyed in the text?

Commentary by Ray Dyer

The Victorian paradoxes of speed, in running and flying, would be revisited by Lewis Carroll in his very last published children's book, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded. In a contest between the anonymous Narrator and Lady Muriel as to who could be quickest to restore a dropped item to an old man boarding a train which was about to leave the platform, the Narrator has to admit that the winner is Lady Muriel. Try as he might, "she was already half-way down the platform, flying ('running' is much too mundane a word for such fairy-like motion) at a pace that left all possible efforts of mine hopelessly in the rear" (Ch. II, 'Love's Curfew'). Later in the story, the venerably aged and knowledgeable character Mein Herr is used as a vehicle for Carroll's own wilder flights of imaginative fantasy regarding "Accelerated Velocity ... the tremendous new Force in Nature ... moving at a hundred miles an hour!" With such in play, "there can be no doubt ... he would have left the Planet ... and gone right away into Space!" (Ch. XII). Three years before Carroll completed and published this children's book in 1893, his favourite weekly Punch had distributed its Christmas Number for December 1890: "Punch Among the Planets," Vol. 99. Artists such as Linley Sambourne, Harry Furniss and George Du Maurier contributed imaginative visions of people and vehicles flying unaided through space: an extra-terrestrial landing-station called "Jupiter Junction"; a railway-train in flight; a paddle-steamer rising from the sea and heading for Venus, and so on. Lewis Carroll appears to have passed most of his adult life in efforts to keep abreast of, and employ in his narrative creations, ideas at the then fringe of science - those "six impossible things before breakfast" of his White Queen in Through the Looking Glass (Ch. V, "Wool and Water").

Student assistants from the University Scholars Program, National University of Singapore, scanned this image and added text under the supervision of George P. Landow. Ray Dyer's commentary was added much later (2021). You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the site and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.


Carroll, Lewis. Sylvie and Bruno Concluded. London: Macmillan, 1893.

Last modified 22 April 2021