Gift ideas -- arts, literature, books for children; Contemporary 'Alice' for adults; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll. The Pennyroyal Edition, designed and illustrated by Barry Moser. Berkeley, Calif.: The University of California Press. 148 pp. $19.95.
In the first sentence of Lewis Carroll's classic, Alice wonders, ''What is the use of a book . . . without pictures?'' Illustrations, after all, are powerful interpreters of text. And for the past century, John Tenniel's original engravings - his slightly petulant Alice surrounded by whimsically bizarre creatures - have led us to see ''Alice in Wonderland'' as children's literature.
But, as Victorian scholar James R. Kincaid reminds us in the preface to this elegant edition, ''Alice'' also opens itself to interpretations by linguists, mathematicians, logicians, even psychoanalysts. This last approach seems most prominent in the 75 woodcuts here - darkly surreal images. No children's book, this edition points to unconscious and complex motivations behind childhood's actions. Thus, while remedying the sentimentality of Tenniel, it ultimately restricts, rather than enlarges, our view of Carroll.