9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

There is no tenth member in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. I think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. Let us take them in order of their introduction:

  1. The Bellman, their captain.
  2. The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
  3. The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complained about the Beaver’s evil lace-making.
  4. The Broker, to value their goods.
  5. The Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense, might perhaps have won more than his share. From John Tufail I learned that in Henry Holiday’s illustration the Billiard-marker is preparing a cheat.
  6. The Banker, engaged at enormous expense, had the whole of their cash in his care.
  7. The Beaver, that paced on the deck or would sit making lace in the bow and had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck, though none of the sailors knew how.
  8. The Baker, also addressed by “Fry me!”, “Fritter my wig!”, “Candle-ends” as well as “Toasted-cheese”, and known for joking with hyenas and walking paw-in-baw with a bear.
  9. The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend with the lace-making animal.

9 or 10 hunters? | Care and Hope | The Snark

 
2017-11-06, edited: 2018-09-15

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.

The Broker and the Monk

In this image one of the elements has been marked (blue frame) which Henry Holiday borrowed from a 17th century painting (by an anonymous artist). This might be a bit different from the borrowing described by T. S. Eliot in 1920. The borrowing ot the pictorial allusion is inconspicuous. It doesn’t enrich Holiday’s illustration. It’s only purpose might be that of a signpost pointing to another work of art.

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