It Seems Few Know or Care About the Real Lewis Carroll
WITH celebrity sexual assault and harassment scandals flowing from the showbiz industry, some people (including one CNN-based commentator) wonder whether they’ll feel comfortable consuming quality products involving seriously offending entertainers and producers. Meantime, some big-celebrity fans will continue viewing their favourites nonetheless, while others may indefinitely remain in denial, as superstardom’s brightness can be blinding—especially when the product becomes legendary.
(The late Michael Jackson’s questionable history of having young boy sleepovers at his Neverland Ranch, comes to my mind as a current example, because of the enormous organized vicious attacks via various media on anyone, including big TV producers, who dare suggest that the legendary pop-music artist was a pedophile. He simply was—and still is—that great and loved.)
As a pre-broadcast-era artist example, many people to this day have great difficulty accepting, or perhaps even caring, that acclaimed author Lewis Carroll—writer of the Alice In Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass children’s novels—enjoyed having little girls pose nude for his camera.
“[Carroll] would ask mama if it was alright for him to photograph the little girl; and later on he would ask if he could photograph her in a costume; and eventually he would work his way up like a lover to, if he could photograph the child in the nude,” says retired Temple University English professor emeritus Donald Rackin, in a Great Books documentary (a copy of which I own). “We know that of course he was refused sometimes, but it was astounding how many mothers said, ‘go ahead’.”
Acclaimed writer and commentator Will Self has stated: “It’s a problem, isn’t it, when somebody writes a great book but they’re not a great person.”
As a prestigious figure, instead of being reprimanded or thrown into a Victorian-era prison, he continued taking his child photos. Carroll’s ability to get away with his perverted predilection for such photography may have been but indicative of the societal entitlement he enjoyed, even as an oddball loner.
Yet some feel Carroll was unfairly misunderstood. According to Hollywood Reporter guest columnist Will Brooker, who also authored Alice’s Adventures: Lewis Carroll in Popular Culture, “Lewis Carroll is treated [by his critics] like a man you wouldn’t want your kids to meet, yet his stories are still presented as classics of pure, innocent literature … Compared to some of our celebrities—the sportsmen, film directors and singers who commit real crimes like assault and abuse and are still welcomed back by fans—Lewis Carroll was a regular saint.”