Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Wonderland is a 1971 novel by Joyce Carol Oates that follows the character Jesse Vogel from his childhood in the Great Depression to his marriage and career in the late 1960s. Oates later wrote that Jesse is a protagonist who does not have an identity unless he is "deeply involved in meaningful experience", a theme that allowed her to address both what she calls "the phantasmagoria of personality" and the faceless nature of the novelist. Wonderland was a finalist for the 1972 National Book Award, and Rocky Mountain News and Entertainment Weekly have listed it as one of Joyce Carol Oates's best books.

In a 1992 afterword to the novel, Oates wrote that, of her early novels, Wonderland was "the most bizarre and obsessive" and "the most painful to write." Oates continued to think about the novel after its completion, and rewrote the ending for the novel's 1972 publication in paperback. Oates continued to write about the Vogels; her play "Ontological Proof of My Existence" is an expansion of Jesse's visit to Toronto in the novel, and she sees her short story "How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction, and Began My Life Over Again" as "an analogue of Shelley 's experience as a runaway to Toledo."