Snark too Dark

On the left side of this image comparison you see a scan (source: of Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. It already is a quite faithful reproduction of the original illustration.
        In prints made by Ian Mortimer (for a limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by Macmillan in 1993) from John Swain’s original woodblocks, the illustration has better quality, but looks even darker. That is as faithful to the original as it can get.

I think that in the original printing, the dark areas of the illustration grew wider than it was intended by Henry Holiday. It looks as if too much black ink spilled into the white areas. Therefore I scanned the illustration from my own 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark. Then I grew the white areas a bit. (First I enlarged the image by 2:1. Then I applied GIMP → Filters → Generic → Delate. After that I scaled the image back to its previous size.) You see the result on the right side.

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Crossover Literature

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This is about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, published more than 140 years ago. This also is about Thomas Cranmer. He and the Baker (the ambivalent hero in The Hunting of the Snark) perhaps hoped that after having left their 42 articles behind, the Boojum won’t get them.

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. However, mature readers (at age hundred-forty or so) might feel, that it ends with a reference to the burning of Thomas Cranmer in 1556.

The image serves to compare two illustrations:

  • Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). The complete illustration is on the upper left side. A 135° couterclockwise rotated detail from that illustration has been rendered on the upper right side of this comparison image.
    Source: 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark (April 1876).
  • Faiths Victorie in Romes Crueltie (published by Thomas Jenner, c. 1630). Immediately to the right side of the fire, Thomas Cranmer is depicted burning his hand.
    License: CC BY-SA 4.0.
    Source: Folger Digital Image Collection

The rotated detail from Henry Holiday’s illustration neither is a “claw” nor a “beak”. I assume that it depicts a fire. And there is a hand in both fires. Carroll and Holiday almost too successfully made sure that the readers of The Hunting of the Snark don’t understand that too early.

Page 83

Examples for advertising the 1st edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, then offered for €200 and more:

First edition, first printing, with “Baker” for “Banker” on page 83.

First issue with “baker” not “butcher” on page 83. It is unknown how many copies were printed this way.

This is about line 560 on page 83, the last page of Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy. All copies are printed this way. And in Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you can see the Baker.

So there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” Those rare book traders just don’t check the facts.

Then there is the JubJub. If you read somewhere that the bird never will look at a “bride”, then better check line 386 on page 55 in the original Snark edition.

My 1st Snark Trophy

Illustrations by Henry Holiday (from The Hunting of the Snark, 1876) and Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (Allegory of Iconoclasts, aka The Image Breakers, around 1567): In the “mouth” of Gheeraerts’ “head” a praying priest is depicted. The shape of the priest also is visible in the “mouth” of Holiday’s vanishing “Baker”.

There is more — with acknowledgments to Mahendra Singh, to John Tufail and to the Internet.

I started my Snark hunt in December 2008. could give you an idea where I was in 2010.