Wonderland (novel)

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First edition cover
AuthorJoyce Carol Oates
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Wonderland Quartet
GenreNaturalist novel
PublisherVanguard Press
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages512 pp
813/.54 22
LC ClassPS3565.A8 W63 2006
Preceded bythem 

Wonderland is a 1971 novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the fourth in the so-called Wonderland Quartet. It was a finalist for the annual U.S. National Book Award for Fiction[1] and it has been called one of the author's best books.[2][3]

Wonderland 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.[4]

Oates wrote in a 1992 Afterword that Wonderland among her early novels was "the most bizarre and obsessive" and "the most painful to write".[4] Oates continued to think about the novel after its completion, and rewrote the ending for the 1972 paperback edition.[4] She also continued to write about the Vogels: the play Ontological Proof of My Existence is an expansion of Jesse's visit to Toronto in the novel, and she considers the story 'How I Contemplated the World from the Detroit House of Correction, and Began My Life Over Again' "an analogue of Shelley [Vogel]'s experience as a runaway to Toledo."[4]


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1972". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  2. ^ Davis, Duane. "Joyce Carol Oates for dummies", "Where to start", "Onto the novels" (series of articles). The Rocky Mountain News, June 13, 2003. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  3. ^ "Book News: Daily Oates Consumption". Entertainment Weekly, July 6, 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
  4. ^ a b c d "Wonderland". Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. Retrieved 2008-10-29.