Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Read by Sir John Gielgud

gielgud reads alice

I nev­er thought I could love an audio record­ing of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Won­der­land (tech­ni­cal­ly Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land and its sequel, Through the Look­ing-Glass) more than I love the unabridged ver­sion nar­rat­ed by Christo­pher Plum­mer. His won­der­ful­ly ham­my char­ac­ter­i­za­tions and its six hour run­ning time made it the per­fect sound­track for pick­ing nits from the foot long tress­es of a first-grad­er who’d been sent home with lice.

By the time she got the all clear, both of us had large por­tions of it com­mit­ted to mem­o­ry.

Christo­pher, I trea­sure the mem­o­ries of those long hours spent togeth­er on cas­sette, but I’m afraid I’ll be spend­ing the 150th anniver­sary of Alice with Sir John Giel­gud, below.

All in the gold­en after­noon

Full leisure­ly we glide;

For both our oars, with lit­tle skill,

By lit­tle arms are plied,

While lit­tle hands make vain pre­tense

Our wan­der­ings to guide.

He makes Lewis Car­roll sound like Shake­speare!

The cel­e­brat­ed dry wit that served him so well through­out his illus­tri­ous career keeps this 1989 Alice very easy on the ears. He takes the oppo­site approach from Plum­mer, under­play­ing the char­ac­ter voic­es. It’s rare to find a gen­tle­man of 85 who can play a 7‑year-old girl so con­vinc­ing­ly, and with so lit­tle fuss.

In an extreme­ly civ­i­lized bit of audio engi­neer­ing, Giel­gud record­ed the tracks in the ball­room of Wya­s­tone Leys, the Vic­to­ri­an coun­try estate that is home to the audiobook’s label. Also? The Eng­lish String Orches­tra ush­ers lis­ten­ers from scene to scene with excerpts from Mendelssohn’s String Sym­phonies. Ah…

Giel­gud’s read­ing of Alice has been made avail­able on Spo­ti­fy. Find it here. Or embed­ded here. You can also find it on Youtube as well. Com­pletists might also enjoy Gielgud’s turn as the Mock Tur­tle in Jonathan Miller’s superbly dark, black & white adap­ta­tion from 1966, here. (Giel­gud makes his entrance at the 13:55 mark.)

To lis­ten to Giel­gud on Spo­ti­fy, you will of course need Spotify’s soft­ware and account, both easy to come by: you just down­load and reg­is­ter.

Oth­er read­ings of Alice can be found in our col­lec­tion, 1,000 Free Audio Books: Down­load Great Books for Free.

Relat­ed Con­tent

The Orig­i­nal Alice’s Adven­tures In Won­der­land Man­u­script, Hand­writ­ten & Illus­trat­ed By Lewis Car­roll (1864)

Free Audio: Alice In Won­der­land Read by Cory Doc­torow

Lewis Carroll’s Pho­tographs of Alice Lid­dell, the Inspi­ra­tion for Alice in Won­der­land

Lewis Carroll’s Clas­sic Sto­ry, Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land, Told in Sand Ani­ma­tion

A 68 Hour Playlist of Shakespeare’s Plays Being Per­formed by Great Actors: Giel­gud, McK­ellen & More

Ayun Hal­l­i­day will be appear­ing at the Brook­lyn Book Fes­ti­val in New York City next week­end.. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

by | Permalink | Comments (3) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (3)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.