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RedemptionÕs Archive: Remembering the Future in a Revolutionary Past

  • Paul K. Eiss (a1)
    • Published online: 04 September 2002

While Alice brushed the White QueenÕs tousled hair, the monarch offered her employ as a ladyÕs maid for a salary of two pence a week, along with a regular ration of jam. As Lewis Carroll relates in Through the Looking Glass, Alice was disinclined to accept in any case. Nonetheless, she grew disturbed when the Queen informed her that the offered jam was only to be given Òevery other dayÓ--that is, only ÒyesterdayÓ and Òtomorrow,Ó but never Òtoday.Ó Alice immediately realized that she would never receive jam on the series of ÒtodaysÓ she worked, but could only enjoy the expectation of receiving it in the future, or perhaps the memory of having received it previously. In response to AliceÕs questions about the proposed arrangement, the Queen attributed her confusion to the Òeffect of living backwards,Ó a prospect that Òalways makes one a little giddy at first.Ó The Queen explained that Alice lived ÒforwardsÓ and was thus condemned to remember only Òbackwards.Ó The White Queen, on the other hand, lived ÒbackwardsÓ and could remember Òboth ways,Ó informed by a previous experience both of the future and of the past. The monarch was so confident of her faculties that she had the KingÕs Messenger sent to prison for punishment in advance of his trial and sentencing. ÒOf course,Ó the White Queen explained, Òthe crime comes last of all.ÓSee Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (New York: Norton, 1971), 150-51.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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