In the Shadow of the Dreamchild : The Myth and Reality of Lewis Carroll Paperback
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages, Yes
- Publisher: Peter Owen Publishers
- Publication Date: 15/10/2008
- Category: Biography: literary
- ISBN: 9780720613186
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Review by waltzmn
Although sometimes marketed as a biography of Charles Dodgson, that is not this book's purpose. It contains a brief biography, but most of the book is devoted to puncturing myths.Unfortunately, it is by no means clear that all those myths need to be punctured.The result is a book which is extremely controversial -- and justifiably so. Leach seems to take delight in going after absolutely everything, whether there is a factual basis for her doubts or not. The tone is controversial, not scholarly, making it very difficult to know what to take seriously. Her disputes with Morton N. Cohen are simply undignified.This is not to deny that the book has value. We have many visions of Lewis Carroll today -- as a semi-secular saint, as a stammering pedophile, even as a drug addict. Most of these visions are wrong -- the one about the drug use ridiculously so, the others at best exaggerated. They deserve to be attacked. But Leach is much too likely to throw out the baby with the bathwater. She clearly does not understand Dodgson -- witness the fact that she does nothing with the fact that he clearly suffered from Asperger's Syndrome (high-function autism).A truly complete biography of Charles Dodgson has never been written. Very likely it cannot be -- he was too private a man to give us a real insight into who he was. As one who shares many of his traits, I feel the incompleteness in every work ever written about him. Seeing many perspectives can be helpful. If you have already read two or three of the Dodgson biographies (those by Cohen, Woolf, and Clark being the best I know), then it might be time to turn to Leach. But to start with her -- definitely not something I would recommend.