Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lost Girls Annotations, Chapter One

Note: Please read the intro page before continuing, as it explains the purpose of this project. Lost Girls is an extraordinarily dirty book, and I make no guarantees that the material below will not be offensive to many readers. I am also making many references to later material here, and it is not recommended that anyone read this text without buying the book first.

Below, I reference the Chapter Number, Page Number, and Panel Number for each comment in order. A comment for Chapter 8, Page 4, Panel 5 would be: C8P4P5.

Title Page: Image taken from C1P1P4, with colors corrected into a more "normal" range, perhaps to reflect the "real" world (see commentary on page one for more).

"The Mirror" -- refers to Alice Through the Looking-Glass. The entirety of this chapter is framed by the mirror of the title, reflecting also most of chapter thirty, and the theme of reflection will be a primary one within the book.

Page One

The first two pages of Lost Girls have a varying color scheme to each panel, in which seeming "filters" have been placed over the action. This may represent the passage of time during the sexual act taking place offstage, or it may be a clue to Alice's mental state.

Chapter 1 Page 1 Panel 1: The first words spoken in the book are "Tell me a story." Speaker is unclear, from context in the next panel and in C1P3P1, it seems that Alice has a young girl in her room and is in a sexual tryst with her. More later.

Storytelling is a theme of the book as a whole, and using these words as the opening line might be a dig at the metafictional nature of the story. It is, indeed, often a story about stories, and a story about itself.

C1P1P2: "...once you're grown..." Alice's first words. Hints at the age of the other person in the room.

C1P1P4: The other person in the room is "mirroring" her actions to Alice.

C1P1P5: "...were you always this impatient?" Perhaps this person is not as young as we might think. Someone known to Alice, perhaps someone who has been known to her for a long time?

This is the first panel with separate word bubbles. Two characters are speaking, or are they?

Page Two

C1P2P1: "...had my medication..." Alice spent some time in a sanitarium when she was younger.

"...hot, sticky place..." See C1P4P4, Alice is likely in South Africa after the Boer War, keeping an eye on her family's affairs. "Hot, sticky place" might also have euphemistic meanings, and Alice's claim to "hate" that place might point to unpleasant memories from her former abuse.

C1P2P3: More oblique reference to Alice's abuse. And in the same breath wondering if it was connected to a fairy tale. More evidence that the story is largely metafictional.

C1P2P5: The mirror never breaking is a different thing from the mirror never melting. Foreshadowing of the last chapter here, when the mirror does break -- is Moore letting us know that the final pages are "outside" the story proper?

The mirror melting is another reference to Looking Glass. We later learn of the significance of the mirror, and all that it represents to Alice.

Page Three

C1P3P2: The servant heard two voices. Or at least thinks she heard two voices.

C1P3P3: "Lady Fairchild" is Alice.

First direct reference to the "disgusting" acts with young children.

C1P3P4: "...so her ways wouldn't show 'em up." Alice herself agrees with this in C1P4P4.

C1P3P5,6: Good breeding causes rampant immorality, not for lower-class servants to question or comment upon. The stratified nature of Victorian society is clear. Even more so with the clearly deliberate use of "niggers".

Regarding "niggers", this is perhaps a jab at those in our world who would question the clearly fictional acts perpetuated herein -- do we not also have our own flaws which may be much more serious than pen on paper?

Page Four

C1P4P3:Pretoria is a city in South Africa, cementing the setting.

C1P4P6: The mirror is very important to Alice, for reasons that are unclear now.

Page Five

The first page without any dialogue at all. Nice technique for showing the journey without, well, showing the journey.

C1P5P5, 6: First appearances of male characters. The porters will become significant later, but are for now unnamed.

Page Six

C1P6P1: First appearance of Monsieur Rougeur, the owner of the hotel and who will become important later on.

C1P6P3: Hippolyte or Hippolyta was an Amazonian queen who had a magic girdle. She was the daughter of Ares, the god of war, which has an interesting subtext given the way the story ends.

C1P6P5,6: Contrasting views of fiction here. Rougeur believes that fiction reflects true reality, whereas Alice calls herself a Platonist, believing that the real world that she is a part of is only a pale reflection of The Real. See The Theory of the Forms for more information here.

Page Seven

Alice is masturbating through panel four. She uses a two-handed technique here, likely penetrating herself with the fingers of one hand while using the other on her clitoris.

C1P7P5: The dialogue here is clearly confused as to how many persons are in the room. The alignment of the mirror is closer to the bed than in South Africa, and it is now clear that no one is in the room with Alice. And yet two word bubbles remain, and the dialogue indicates that two persons are present.

C1P7P6: "...unladylike." Mild humor.

Page Eight

C1P8P1: The first word bubble implies that the mirror itself is speaking. When I first read the story, that is the implication that I took away from it. Given what happens to Alice during the next twenty-nine chapters, and given the fact that no other "magical" items exist in the universe of the story, it is more likely that Alice's reality is somewhat fractured here, and that she is either hallucinating the other voice, making the voice herself, or merely fantasizing that the other person exists.

C1P8P2: The reference to "child" (in addition to the later material) cements the idea that Alice is speaking to a childlike version of herself, who in her mind is "trapped" in the mirror.

C1P8P3: Alice does look old here. She has a sadness that she hasn't had before.

C1P8P6: A faint image of a heart can be seen around the mark made by the kiss.


Beth said...

Slight quibble with your analysis of the first panels in the chapter. In light of Alice's apparent mental illness, and the final panels in the chapter in which Alice is having a conversation without another person in the room with her (that we can see), an alternate interpretation of the opening panels could be that Alice is in conversation with herself, even going so far as to adopt the voice of a young girl for the other party. She could be afflicted with a type of split-personality disorder, in which the two personalities inhabiting her mind are that of the adult Alice and Alice as a child, approximately at the same age as when she was abused. This would play into the on-going theme of mirrors, in that the two personalities could be seen as two people on opposite sides of a mirror, the one on the physical plane, looking into a mirror and seeing not a reflection of her physical self, but of her true inner nature (also continuing with the Platonic Ideals theme). When Alice was abused, her assault took place in the room where the mirror in question was, and we see a sequence in which the mirror provided an escape for her mind while her body was being violated. She fixated on the girl in the mirror during her rape, and we even see reference made during the sequence describing her assault to the world on the other side of the mirror appearing "more real" somehow to Alice. Often victims of abuse will be drawn to various forms of escapist fantasies, and it isn't much of a stretch to believe that an object or image that figured prominently in a victim's attack would then have special significance to the victim later. So, while the maids in the panels immediately following the first ones with the disembodied conversation make reference to hearing a girl's voice, do they actually mention having seen a girl? They may have overheard Alice speaking with young Alice, the girl in the mirror.

(Since you didn't seem to have any qualms about spoilers in your post, I've gone rather spoiler-crazy.)

DEH said...

Well, yeah. I didn't consider the multiple personalities thing, but you and I are on the same wavelength here.

The details of the rape, though, I'll get to when I get to those chapters of the book.