10 Assumptions About The Hunting of the Snark

Annotations to “10 Interesting Facts About The Hunting of the Snark (Rose Theatre, 2017-09-21)

  1. One out of several (but perhaps less important) reasons to write the Snark might have been that Carroll wrote his tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark to bring much needed escape and light while nursing his seriously ill godson and cousin Charlie Wilcox who eventually died from tuberculosis.
  2. Part of the Snark ballad is Carroll’s story that he was walking on a hillside near Guildford, alone, one bright summer day (1874-07-18 , allegedly not so bright in reality), when suddenly there came into his head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” With more that 500 lines the book was published in 1876. He ended up with more chapters (fits) than initially planned. This of course also affected the illustrator Henry Holiday and the engraver Joseph Swain. The sequence of making the illustrations is described in the centennial edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by William Kaufmann in 1981.
  3. Carroll left the meaning of the Snark deliberately vague refusing to answer questions about its meaning. He stated that whatever good meanings are in the book, he was glad to accept an of them as the meaning of the book. The best that in his viev he had seen was by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the pursuit of happiness.
  4. The poem was published on April 1st 1876 (the date chosen being April Fools Day and before Easter, which was a good time to sell the book). The first print was 10,000 copies and the book has rarely if ever been out of print since.
  5. Unlike Carroll’s many other fantastical creatures, we never see the Snark and its appearance remains a mystery. His lifelong friend, the famous illustrator Henry Holiday proposed something which to Carroll was a “delightful monster“. But Carroll nevertheless refused to allow his lifelong friend to include his drawing of a Boojum turned Snark in the original edition. The Snark only was allowed to applear in the Barrister’s dream.
  6. Snarks are harmless. You even may fetch a Snark home, but keep the greens ready.
    WARNING: If a Snark turns into a Boojum and you get too close to one, you will “softly and suddenly vanish away.”
  7. The Bellman is an expert on Snarks and knows how to describe Snarks.
  8. The Jubjub appeared in Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Some think that the Jubjub might be a pun on the word jug-jug, an English word expressing one of the notes of a nightingale. I believe (and may be wrong with that) that the noisy beast has something to do with jubjubbing chronometers
  9. Acording to the Rose Theatre, Snark clubs dedicated to ‘the glorification of the Snark and its creator’ still flourish and meet to recite the poem. The band of declared Snarkists included W.H. Auden, Willa Cather, John Galsworthy, A.P. Herbert, Elspeth Huxley and C.S. Lewis.
  10. Some believe that the Baker might be a self-deprecating self-portrait in which Carroll pokes fun at his well-known forgetfulness. I don’t think so. The Baker has 42 boxes of luggage. I think he forgot them like Thomas Cranmer forgot his Forty-Two articles for a while. Incidentally, Carroll was 42 years old when he wrote Snark.