It’s cool to answer questions with “42”, especially if it takes some effort to understand the question which belongs to that answer. If you expect another cool answer here, you might want to look somewhere else. This post is about the possible religious background of all that 42 business, which in my view was started by Lewis Carroll.
All men shall not be saved at the length. They also are worthy of condemnation, who endeavour at this time in restore the dangerous opinion that all men, by they never so ungodly, shall at length be saved, when they have suffered pains for their sins a certain time appointed by God’s justice.
Article 42 in Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles (1552)
No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm, and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.
Rule 42 “completed” by the Bellman in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876)
Pope Francis said eternal damnation is not a torture chamber but distance from God.
If something like eternal damnation (Article 42) would exist, then that also would be an eternal disconnect (Rule 42) between the Abrahamic god and those who adhere to that god.
I assume, that Carroll’s “forty-two” serves as a reference to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles and the last article hierin about eternal damnation. As far as I understand, eternal damnation was a controversial issue in the era of the Oxford Movement, and the Rev. C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) objected to the belief in eternal punishment. (The controversy seems not to have ended yet.)
Of course neither Lewis Carroll nor Douglas Adams would have provided us with spoilers which could help us to understand their “42”. Holding your readers responsible for their interpretations is much more fun to writers like Adams and Carroll. Therefore Adams told us that the “42” just popped up in his mind out of the air when he enjoyed the view of his garden. And Carroll told us that the last line “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see!” in The Hunting of the Snark popped up in his mind during a walk near Guilford (incidentally the birthplace of Ford Prefect, and then again not his real birthplace).
Carroll’s Snark and Adams’ Guide have more in common that just having fits instead of chapters. But among both authors, it probably was only the Reverend Dodgson to whom “42” had a special relevance in the history of the church, that vessel which had been snarked so many times.
- Lewis Carroll, Eternal Damnation, in The Lewis Carroll Picture Book (1899, edited by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood), p. 345-355
- Lewis Carroll on Eternal Punishment, posted by “Nick”, 2008
- John Tufail, The Jowett Controversy – Understanding Carroll’s Philosophy, 2010
Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) has been published “with nine illustrations by Henry Holiday”. But there are ten illustrations. One possible explanation: The Ocean-Chart (aka the Bellman’s map) has not been made neither by Henry Holiday nor by Joseph Swain, but by a typesetter.
The map presently is used to navigate the United Kingom through the Brexit.
“Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.
- “Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavour of Will-o’-the-wisp.
- “Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
And dines on the following day.
- “The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
And it always looks grave at a pun.
- “The fourth is its fondness for bathing–machines,
Which is constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes –
A sentiment open to doubt.
- “The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
And those that have whiskers, and scratch.
“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums –” The Bellman broke of in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.
(“That’s exactly the method,” the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
“That’s exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!”)
Page from a letter (1876-01-04) by C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to Henry Holiday. The two lines at the bottom are notes written by Henry Holiday.
I think the note is:
× L.C. forgot that “the Snark” is a tragedy and [should]
on no account be made jovial. h.h.
In the end, Carroll produced a tragicomedy.