Scarlet Johansson’s Alice in Wonderland
A classic of children’s literature gets a perfectly grown-up reading.
Have you ever wondered what the voice in your head sounds like when you read a book in silence? It’s a good exercise to stop and “listen” whether, for example, the reading voice is distinct from your own; is it male or female? Is it the voice of the character in the story or perhaps of the author? It’s one of the most intimate relationships we have throughout life and one of the most emotional, too. When we read a book we are both the silent narrator – and the listener – and nobody but us knows that perfect cadences and tones of the relationship between one and the other.
Reading aloud, on the other hand, is one of the richest, simple pleasures in life. Our own voices are silenced and the voice of the narrator seems to emanate from inside our heads, taking steps even toward the deepest memories of childhood when we huddled in the arms of our mothers or fathers. It’s not for nothing that the great narrators of audiobooks count legions of devoted followers. They become loved ones.
Technology has led to a boom in audiobooks in which all kinds of celebrities have been enlisted to read the great novels of the literary canon. Recall, for example, when David Cameron, Tilda Swinton and Stephen Fry (among others) read Moby Dick from beginning to end. Of such projects there are hundreds that have been successful for the combination of dramatic skills of the actors and the requirements, also dramatic, of a good literary text. One lucky case is the recent publication, by Audible, of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, read by Scarlett Johansson.
Beyond the tastes and affinities Johansson has scored as an actress, we can say that there is something in her voice that is, if not attractive, certainly memorable. For the Audible project, the actress created distinct characterizations of icons like the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. She’s perhaps not the first option that a parent would choose for children (as audiobooks voiced by Jim Dale might be), but it is definitely a treat for adults, for whom walking around the city listening to the voice of Johansson reading the great classic of Lewis Carroll can be, if not beautiful, then certainly stimulating.
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