[right]: John Martin: The Bard (ca. 1817, detail from lower left side, retinex filtered and vectorized)
[…] When [The Hunting of the Snark] was published in 1876 it was illustrated by Henry Holiday who, though a very talented artist, failed to capture the surreal nature of Carroll’s poem. The illustrations for this edition however, provided by Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake, are the perfect accompaniment. Peake’s drawings have an uneasy bubbling quality, blending with the silly and macabre feel of the words, a particular favourite of mine being his Bandersnatch (a beast mentioned in the Jabberwocky), which is shown above. […]
Nothing against Mervyn Peake’s illustrations, but already this illustration (even without the yellow lines and dots which I added) might contain more elements of “surreal nature” than what you find in Mervyn Peake’s illustrations. I like those playful weeds (or animals?) in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.
That’s not the only thing which that corner has to offer.
Another popular path (not) to understand The Hunting of the Snark has been stated more than three times: Some call Carroll’s poem “nonsense”. It isn’t.
Anyway, I don’t think that Holiday failed to convey to us graphically what Carroll meant. The price for his achievement perhaps was that Holiday’s illustrations are less eye pleasing than illustrations like Peake’s.
Holiday’s illustrations are as grotesque as Carroll’s poem.
A Snark article in the Knight Letter
(with lots of help from Chris Morgan and Mark Burstein)
Source: Knight Letter (ISSN 0193-886X), Fall 2017, Number 99
My article is online (with permission of the Knight Letter editors). In the online copy, I fixed the wrong URL kl.snr.de. It’s kl.snrk.de. Also four additional images have been attached to the article.
The Lewis Carroll Collection
Christ Church holds three distinct collections of material relating to Lewis Carroll, aka Charles Ludwidge Dodgson. These collections include a wide variety of material, from autograph letters and a wealth of manuscripts, original photographic prints, proof sheets and presentation copies, to a large number of editions of the “Alice” books in different languages.
Illustrated editions include 19th century black and white etchings and a huge range of 20th century illustrations. Some illustrators are famous in their own right, like Salvador Dali, Ralph Steadman and Barry Moser. The collections also include an impressive array of secondary material (biographies, books about various aspects of Carroll’s work, etc.) and are available for the use of researchers upon application to the Library.
The whole corpus of the Lewis Carroll collection is currently the object of intense study and scrutiny, being reviewed and catalogued. This is a work in progress. A significant part of the Lewis Carroll collection has now been digitized. More will follow in due course. This project aims to provide an enhanced experience for viewers, allowing them to flip the pages, zoom in, and read very detailed descriptions. The digitized part of the Lewis Carroll collection has been organized in the following sections:
Access to all fully digitized resources is made available both through the college website, or directly via the Digital Bodleian portal. Crucially for research, our digitized items are integrated with the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a set of software standards established and adhered to by an ever expanding community of libraries and cultural heritage institutions, including the British Library, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, la Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Cambridge University Library, Harvard University Library, MIT, Stanford University, Trinity College Dublin, the Vatican and Yale University. All this gives scholars an unprecedented level of uniform and rich access to image-based resources hosted around the world.
Snark related links are offered in “Other Works by Lewis Carroll“. Presently the links also lead to scans of Henry Holiday’s illustrations.
I like Edward Wakeling’s detailed description of Holiday’s illustrations. The Ocean Chart is not mentioned. That is no mistake: That chart quite probably isn’t an illustration by Henry Holiday. My own collection of scans does contain the Ocean Chart, as it is about all illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark. That includes the illustration not made by Henry Holiday.
Look at walls splashed with a number of stains, or stones of various mixed colours. If you have to invent some scene, you can see there resemblances to a number of landscapes, adorned with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, great plains, valleys and hills, in various ways. Also you can see various battles, and lively postures of strange figures, expressions on faces, costumes and an infinite number of things, which you can reduce to good integrated form. This happens on such walls and varicoloured stones, (which act) like the sound of bells, in whose peeling you can find every name and word that you can imagine.
Do not despise my opinion, when I remind you that it should not hard for you to stop sometimes and look into the stains of walls, or the ashes of a fire, or clouds, or mud or like places, in which, if you consider them well, you may find really marvelous ideas. The mind of the painter is stimulated to new discoveries, the composition of battles of animals and men, various compositions of landscapes and monstrous things, such as devils and similar things, which may bring you honor, because by indistinct things the mind is stimulated to new inventions.
Leonardo da Vinci
Jay Clause‘s what Salvador Dali taught me about creative work will help you to (perhaps) get the whole picture. However, keep in mind that artists like to play with what the beholders of their work might want (or might not want) to percieve. Even without blurring, artists can deny anything you “see” in an ambiguous creation: They play with their own pareidolia as well as with the pareidolia of their audience.
Squinting might help you to see things which you wouldn’t see with clear sight. It’s fine to try that with artwork which has been intentionally created for such an exercise. But better make sure that it was an artist who created the face that is looking at you. I don’t know whether Mars ever has been inhabited by artists.
In his illustrations to Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting of the Snark" (1876), Henry Holiday might have referred to a detail in this panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece. pic.twitter.com/Q0AruMIpps
— Goetz Kluge (@Bonnetmaker) December 26, 2017
Retweeted by Musée Unterlinden (2017-12-27):