Being Unwise

This assemblage (based on a finding in 2014) shows that Henry Holiday has left a pictorial reference in the final illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark to the burning of Thomas Cranmer. Recently (June 2018) I found two other Snark hunters who also see connections between The Hunting of the Snark and Thomas Cranmer: Angus MacIntyre (1994) and Karen Gardiner (2018). The following lines are about Karen Gardiner’s 2018 paper and my approach to Cranmer since 2010.

The Snark Matrix

  • 2018: According to Karen Gardiner, “it would be unwise for anyone to imply that they have found the answer to the book’s mystery.” The book is Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). Gardiner wrote that in Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll (published on p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31, sent by the UK Lewis Carroll Society to me in June 2018, yet not listed in
  • 2015: in February 2015 I tried to cope with Carroll’s references from one thing to several other things at the same tome by coming up with a kind of Snark matrix trying to associate several elements of The Hunting of the Snark. In that paper are many unwise guesses. It might rewrite it. But it shows that I agree to Gardiner that there isn’t the answer to the book’s to the books mystery. Actually, there are many answers. Carroll found a way to let a single text carry many stories.

Article 42

42 Articles

  • 2018: Karen Gardiner made me aware of Angus MacIntyre. She wrote, that he commented (1994): “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” Since 2010 I believe that too.
  • 2017: Starting from August 2017:
  • 2016: (moved to in August 2017) had been introduced (Sent: Saturday, Jun 18, 2016 13:01 CEST) to the LCS UK about two years before they published Karen Gardiner’s paper in THE CARROLLIAN. The editors of THE CARROLLIAN perhaps were not aware of that.
  • 2015-2016:, 2016-06-16
  • 2014-2015: As for the pictorial reference by Henry Holiday to Thomas Cranmer’s burning, in 2010 I first probably was on the wrong track. In the 2014 I found a second print which probably is the better target of Holiday’s reference. Yet, in January 2015 I still considered both prints to be an option. Today my focus is on the comparison which you see at the top of this page.
  • 2009-2013:”Snark”+”Thomas Cranmer”
  • 1994: Angus MacIntyre wrote “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” in The Reverend Snark, Jabberwocky 23(1994): 51-52.
    Whow, I didn’t know that. But Karen Gardiner also wrote: “He [MacIntyre] does not go on to expond this theory and there is no explanation for Carroll using 42 rather that 39 if the significance is in the Articles themselves.”
            However, there may be an explanation: By letting the Baker leave his 42 boxes, all carefully packed and with his name painted clearly on each, behind on the beach, Carroll referred to Cranmer’s articles and is temporary amnesia as a temporary catholic. Cranmer did not leave 39 articles behind, he left 42 articles behind. As for Carroll, this could be the reason for using 42 rather that 39. Furthermore I think that also Henry Holiday’s pictorial allusions strongly support MacIntyre’s comment. That might help to expond MacIntyre’s theory.
            I think both is true: Carroll/Dodgson associated all 42 articles of Cranmer with all 42 boxes of the Baker. And the last article in the 42 articles made these articles a special issue to Dodgson. Furthermore, I think that Carroll/Dodgson and associated the Baker with Thomas Cranmer. It would be unwise, however, to limit possible associations of the members of the Snark hunting crew with historical persons (as well as with Christ Church staff) to a single person.

Boots’ Boots

From Karen Gardiner’s paper I learned about the question of the Professor in Bruno and Sylvie: “Do you know what a Boojum is?” Bruno answers: “It’s the thing that wrenches people out of their boots!”

Gardiner relates that to the character of the Boots in The Hunting of the Snark. However, that might not be the only possibility. I think that Bruno’s answer might be related to the “three pairs of boots” (Trinity, Three Creeds or some other three items list?) which were supposed to give the Baker protection (together with seven coats) in The Hunting of the Snark. The Boojums destroys the foundations of the Christian faith.

(If you want to know my own position in religious matters: I am neither a spiritual nor a religious person.)

In the preface to The Hunting of the Snark we learn about the Baker’s constant complaints to the Boots about the “insufficient blacking of his three pairs of boots” “His” could be the Baker, but it also could be the that the Baker (Thomas Cranmer) want’s the Boots to blacken his own faith more than the Boots wants to have it. In the latter case the Boots boots are not dark enough. Was the Boot’s faith in the Trinity not protestant enough? I think that the Reverend Dodgson may have had issues with Cranmer’s (the Baker’s) protestant and catholic phase. In The Hunting of the Snark, the Baker is quite an ambivalent character.

Bonnets and Hoods

Karen Gardiner also addressed the fact that the Boots is the only character not depicted in Henry Holiday’s illustrations. Most Snark readers think so, but that might be wrong. I think, that the Boots is the maker of Bonnets and Hoods. And the Bonnetmaker had been depicted in one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations. As I can afford to be unwise and as I like to rub this in, I dare to mention that there may not 10 Snark hunters, but only 9 Snark hunters in The Hunting of the Snark.

Dangerous Territory: Religious Allegory

“It seems to be dangerous territory to claim to have found religious allegory in Carroll’s childre’s works,” Kate Gardinger wrote – and found allegory to the last article of Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles. Luckily (to my understanding) to the Reverend Kate Gardinger today that is not an as dangerous territory as in might have been to Oxford Christ Church priests (and math teaching diacons) in the Victorian era.
        (However, even in the 20th century, the “Rule 42” seemingly was something you better stay away from. In their first Alice animation movie, Disney replaced “Rule 42” by “Rule 51”. They might have been afraid that “42” has a meaning.)

More religious allegory: Let’s, unwisely or not, claim more religious allegory. As so often with Carroll, his works are not only one thing. His Alice books and the Snark were crossover literature at its best long before there was a term like “crossover literature”. Read the Snark at least twice. By design, it doesn’t scare children as well as it, as a tragedy, should scare the adult readers. Of course religious allusion has a place in the Snark. This is why Carroll allowed the Baker to play with hyenas and bears like St. Macarius and to St.Corbinian: The Baker was a catholic, at least temporarily like Thomas Cranmer. As for Cranmer, supporting the catholic case didn’t help him as much as his 6+1 recantations. These seven coats were not enough.

Murder: Thomas Cranmer and the Baker were not only victims, they also had victims. As for Cranmer, there were at least seven other people where coats and boots failed to protect them from religious violence. At least partially, Cranmer was responsible a fate, which in the end also becames his own fate. I suggest also here the Baker stands for Thomas Cranmer and therefore offered is co-hunters the option to charge him with murder. Carroll’s depiction of the Baker is as ambivalent as Thomas Cranmer’s character.

Bells and lace: According to Karen Gardinger, “it has been suggested [by Angus MacIntyre] that the Bellman and his pet the Beaver are both representatives of high Church ritualistic practice, with its fascination for bells and lace.” That is possible. The bell tingled by the Bellman ad nauseam might stand for more than one thing, for “time” as an example. Additionally to that it could point to the bell tower project of Dodgson’s boss in Oxford. As for lace, this is not only about a material, it is about an activity: lace making. My unwise guess is that lace making is a reference to the vivisection debate in which Carroll/Dodgson was involved.

Bathing-machines: Last not least, what are bathing-machines?. They could be, well, just bathing-machines. They also could be an allusion to Gully’s water cures enjoyed by a Snark named Charles Darwin. Or they could be an religious allusion to catholic rites involving baptismal fonts. I think that the bathing-machined liked by the Snark are not a religious allusion, but an allusion to minimalistic sacral architecture: a temporary belfry in Oxford Christ Church College.

Links & Discussion

I linked to older my postings in, and Before I turned into a blog in August 2017, I unwisely(?) also puplished several posts in

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