Sharpening a Spade

When the crew of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is making preparations for seeking that impossible creature, we read that “the Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade”. This action is so outlandish that the editor and commentator Martin Gardner remarks ad locum: “Why in the world were they sharpening a spade?” (Gardner 2006: 44.)

Source: The Semantics and Semiotics of Sharpening a Spade: Apossible Explanation of Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, Line 273; by Ezequiel Ferriol, 2017

Sharpening a spade is not outlandish. I saw farmers and gardeners doing that. Sharpening the spade before digging makes work easier. I think that Gardener simply asked what the Boots and the Broker wanted to do with a spade.

Quite probably the Boots and the Broker sharpened a spade because they were going to dig.

Henry Holiday

Watch those fingers: The photo has been “photoshopped” (by Henry Holiday or Joseph Swain?) already many years before I worked on it using GIMP. Holiday’s tinkering with the little finger and the thumb of his left hand might be a “Victorian craze“.

The image shows Henry Holiday and segments of one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations (cut by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The Segments show the Bonnetmaker and a bonnet.

The photo is several years older than the illustrations. Perhaps it is a portrait taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait taken by Henry Holiday quite a few years after the Snark was published.