Being Unwise

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). Initially I was that unwise. But today I believe that there is one among several answers.

I started my Snark hunt in December 2008. Initially I probably had been quite unwise and thought that I had found the answer. That might explain the title The real story behind “The Hunting of the Snark” of an early post in The Lewis Carroll Forum. I am sorry for that botched exercise in self-irony. There is not just one single “real story” behind Carroll’s Snark poem. There are many answers.

Gardiner gave her warning to Snark hunters in her paper Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, published on p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31, mailed by the UK Lewis Carroll Society to me in June 2018.

As for “Article 42” in Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles and “Rule 42” in The Hunting of the Snark, the main argument of Gardiner’s June 2018 paper is “that Carroll’s frequent and unexplained use of the number 42, and in particular his development of Role 42 in the preface of The Hunting of the Snark and Rule 42 in Alice’s trial scene highlight the doctrine of eternal punishment that Carroll was so concerned about.” The issue was addressed in this Blog in December 2017: Eternal Disconnect.

As for Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles and the Baker’s 42 boxes in The Hunting of the Snark, Gardiner made me aware of Angus MacIntyre‘s comment (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. Thanks to Karen Gardiner’s 2018 paper in THE CARROLLIAN and to Angus MacIntire’s suggestion I now know that linking the Baker in The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer (among other references) is not such a weird idea after all.

Also Mary Hammond (a pen name of Mary Hibbs) recognized in 2017 that eternal damnation (Article 42 in the 42 Articles) was an issue which Carroll/Dodgson might have addressed in The Hunting of the Snark.

The Article 42 in the 42 Articles was of special interest to Carroll/Dodgson, who objected to the belief in an eternal punishment. But I don’t think that this explains why in The Hunting of the Snark Carroll came up with 42 boxes rather than 39 boxes as a reference to one of the most important foundations of the Anglican church. I suggest that Carroll chose the “42” as among several references to Thomas Cranmer, the author of the 42 Articles.

I started in December 2008 to be unwise with a single finding. But soon I understood, that there are many answers to Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s textual and pictorial puzzles in The Hunting of the Snark. There are no references in Gardiner’s papers to my findings related to Thomas Cranmer and his 42 Articles, but it is good to learn that also theologists write about religious aspects of The Hunting of the Snark. Reverend Karen Gardiner is a Priest in the Church of England.


2018-07-06, update: 2021-11-26

Article 42 in the 42 Articles

The helmsman used to stand by with tears in his eyes; he knew it was all wrong, but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, “No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm,” had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words “and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.“ So remonstrance was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually sailed backwards.

Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark, Preface

#42. 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

Thomas Cranmer’s 42th Article didn’t make it into the 39 Articles of the Anglicans, but the debate continued. The reverend C.L. Dodgson was opposed to the dogma of eternal damnation.
        In 1994, Angus MacIntyre suggested (The Reverend Snark, Jabberwocky 23, p. 51~52): “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” I learned about MacIntire’s suggestion in an article by Karen Gardiner, an Anglican priest. In June 2018 she suggested that in The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll/Dodgson addressed the Article 42 in Thomas Cranmer‘s Articles (Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, July 2018, p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31).
        My approach to a possible reference in The Hunting of the Snark to the 42 Articles was different. It started with discovering a pictorial reference in one of Henry Holiday’s Snark illustrations to Thomas Cranmer’s burning. If I look back at what came into my mind in the year 2014, it was Henry Holiday who made me curious to learn more about the articles 27, 41 and 42 and whether they might have been an issue for the Reverend Dodgson.

2018-07-08, uptate 2021-11-26


Blurring images is low pass filtering images. An artist’s blunted sight can have the same effects like blurring with computerized image processing. Sometimes you need to get rid of distracting details in order to get the whole picture.

Jay Clause‘s what Salvador Dali taught me about creative work will help you to (perhaps) get the whole picture. However, keep in mind that artists like to play with what the beholders of their work might want (or might not want) to percieve. Even without blurring, artists can deny anything you “see” in an ambiguous creation: They play with their own pareidolia as well as with the pareidolia of their audience.

Before computerized image processing was available, artists use simple techniques to blurr images. For example, blorring or looking at an image through a feather did the trick.

Blurring might help you to see things which you wouldn’t see with clear sight. It’s fine to try that with artwork which might have been intentionally created for such an exercise. But better make sure that it was an artist who created the face that is looking at you. I don’t know whether Mars ever has been inhabited by artists.

Sometimes blurring helps to reveal structures hidden in the hatching.


See also: Susana Martinez-Conde, Dave Conley, Hank Hine, Joan Kropf, Peter Tush, Andrea Ayala and Stephen L. Macknik: Marvels of illusion: illusion and perception in the art of Salvador Dali


2017-12-28, updated: 2021-11-25

9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

Most readers of The Hunting of the Snark assume that the Snark hunting party consists of ten members. However, probably for a good reason, only nine members can be seen in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s ballad. Actually, I really think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. But if you, as almost everybody else, prefer ten Snark hunters, that’s fine too. Lewis Carroll gave you (and me) a choice, incidentally(?) in the 9th and the 10th line of his tragicomedy.

Let us take all the crew members 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-paw with a bear.
  9. The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend with the lace-making animal.

More about the members of the Snark hunting party:
9 or 10 hunters?
  Care and Hope
  The Snark

2017-11-06, updated: 2021-11-22


Snarks have five marks:

The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
      Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes—
      A sentiment open to doubt.

[The New Belfry of Christ Church, Oxford], of the best of Dodgson’s Oxford squibs, a good humored but cutting attack on Dean Liddell (the father of Alice) and the wooden cube built to contain the Cathedral bells during operations to build a new tower. Though it can still be found today behind the stone walls of the tower, the wooden cube was always a temporary plan but Dodgson was impatient and the Governing body were slow.

Source: Cristies, 2009-12-04

The Bell in The Hunting of the Snark might be interpreted as a symbol for time and time pressure. But it also might have been used by C.L. Dodgson to continue lampooning Dean Henry Liddell‘s minimalistic “bonnet-box” project, a meekly geometric belfry to go up on the cathedral at Christ Church. In The New Belfry of Christ Church, a certain “D. C. L.” wrote:

§ 7. On the impetus given to Art in England by the new Belfry, Ch. Ch.

The idea has spread far and wide, and is rapidly pervading all branches of manufacture. Already an enterprising maker of bonnet-boxes is advertising ‘the Belfry pattern’: two builders of bathing-machines[MG025] at Ramsgate have followed his example: one of the great London houses is supplying ‘bar-soap’ cut in the same striking and symmetrical form: and we are credibly informed that Borwick’s Baking Powder and Thorley’s Food for Cattle are now sold in no other shape.

In The Belfry at Christ Church by E.G.W. Bill, edited by Michael Hall and published in Oxoniensia 2013 (Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society), I found this quote from a letter by C.L. Dodgson to The Pall Mall Gazette (1874-10-31):

During the restoration of the Cathedral, when the bells had been removed from the tower, which had become too weak to support them, it was proposed to hang them outside the cathedral in a wooden belfry, which we were assured would be quite inoffensive, as it would hardly be visible from any point of the compass. In an evil hour we consented, and the resulting erection, which cost about a thousand pounds, speedily made us famous for having inflicted upon Oxford the ugliest and most conspicuous monstrosity that probably she has ever seen. This, and the great expense already incurred, forced on us the conviction that we must now erect a stone bell-tower.


2018-05-24, update: 2022-11-22

The Vanishing

Almost four months before Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark was officially published on the 1st of April 1876, the illustrator Henry Holiday still thought of that ballad as a “tragedy“. In the end, the collaboration between the author and the illustrator yielded a tragicomedy. The sad end still is there, albeit very well hidden from child readers: The burning of Thomas Cranmer.

Nonsense literature like Carroll’s can be read repeatedly. Carroll’s nonsense is crossover literature. At different ages you would read the Snark tragicomedy differently. Likewise, you would look at Henry Holiday’s illustrations differently. Carroll wrote his Snark tragicomedy in a way which protects the young reader from understanding the sad end of the final “fit” The Vanishing too early.

2021-09-02, updated: 2021-11-20

Breakfast at five-o’clock tea

Snark mark 2/5:

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.

In November 1859, Dodgson gave a lecture at a meeting of the Ashmolean Society on “Where does the Day begin?”. A clock is right 24 times a day, if you start carrying the clock around the globe due West at an angular speed of 15°/h once it has stopped. (It’s almost like the mad tea-party having always six o’clock while moving around the table.) Only the day date suddenly would change somewhere. (That’s where in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the March Hare quickly changes the topic.)

There neither were internationally defined time zones yet, nor an internationally agreed date line when Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle travelled around the world, but when he (and the Snark) breakfasted in Tahiti, it probably already was around tea time back home in Carroll’s Oxford. From England it carries us far away, when we imagine breakfasting in Tahiti.

On 2020-10-22 I found a twitter thread, where John Pretorius showed, that he interpreted (and applied) Lewis Carroll’s “breakfasts at five-o’clock tea” stanza in the same way as I did.

Discussion: Facebook | Twitter [5][4][3][2][1]

2019-08-16, updated 2021-11-20

My 1st Snark Trophy

My first Snark encounter was in 2005. Then, after almost four years, I entered the Snark hunting grounds in December 2008. could give you an idea where I was in 2010.

The image shows 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.

And there are more big heads.

Articles in this blog about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing.

2017-08-28, updated: 2021-11-20

What – me worry?

Source for “Alfred E. Neuman”:

After a Butcher/Jowett comparison I run into a page published by a certain “Arthur Neuendorffer“. (Art perhaps is in Oxford what “Alois Kabelschacht” is in room 354 of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich.) Art discovered a resemblance between Henry Holiday’s depiction of The Butcher in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark and Alfred E. Neuman. He wrote: “When Mad Magazine was sued for copyright infringement, one defense it used was that it had copied the picture from materials dating back to 1911.” Incidentially, my first copy of the The Hunting of the Snark was an American edition published in 1911.

It seems, though, that Alfred E. Neuman and the Butcher are quite distant relatives:

2020-02-19, update: 2021-11-17

Hunting the CoV

Projects 16800-16803,16805-16808

Cause: covid-19

This is the first COVID19 project from our lab. We are assembling the envelope protein, which is an ion channel important for viral function. Learning about how it forms can inform the design of molecules that will prevent proper assembly.

List of Contributors

This project is managed by Dr Lucie Delemotte at KTH /SciLifeLab.


(Project: I pasted the text into the image.)


Proteins are not stagnant—they wiggle and fold and unfold to take on numerous shapes. We need to study not only one shape of the viral spike protein, but all the ways the protein wiggles and folds into alternative shapes in order to best understand how it interacts with the ACE2 receptor, so that an antibody can be designed. Low-resolution structures of the SARS-CoV spike protein exist and we know the mutations that differ between SARS-CoV and 2019-nCoV. Given this information, we are uniquely positioned to help model the structure of the 2019-nCoV spike protein and identify sites that can be targeted by a therapeutic antibody. We can build computational models that accomplish this goal, but it takes a lot of computing power.


=== Linux ===
I run folding@home (F@H) on two computers. One operates under MS Windows, the other one is a five years old computer with a Linux operating system. That old computer became very slow due to mitigations against Intel CPU vulnerabilities, so I didn’t use it anymore. But I reactivated it for F@H operated under a bare bone Linux OS. As that computer doesn’t do anything else than folding, I disabled the Intel CPU protection by starting the kernel with “mitigations=off”. (Don’t do that if you use your computer on the network for other tasks besides folding.) It works for kernels at and above version 5.2 and increases the speed (and the F@H point count) significantly. If your computer boots into Linux with GRUB, add mitigations=off to the settings in GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT.

=== Teams ===
As part of the “gamification” concept of F@H, your protein model folding computer collect points during folding. (It’s just for fun. Competition is in our genes, F@H plays with that.) You can join teams in order to get to the top in a ranking of teams together with other contributors. By default you are in a Zero team. That’s fine. You don’t have to change anything if you just want to help folding protein models.
        Some contributors join teams of organizations (e.g. companies) in order to let these organizations look good. That’s fine too. There are various kind of teams.
        You also easily can create your own team. Due to my obsession, I of course created a The Hunting of the Snark team. (So far it consist of only one member, but as of already is among the top 10% of all teams.)
        Curecoin: The top team is the Curecoin team. There you not only get points, you also get some kind of currency. It’s not my thing. One reason for me not to join Curecoin is that the blockchain technology applied would add additional workload to my computer. On the other side, Curecoin isn’t bad either. The Curecoin team has even more points than the Zero team, but much less work units. I think, that is because many contributors in that team run computers with powerful CPUs and GPUs. They get work units done faster than less powerful machines, and the points computation algorithm of F@H acknowledges that. (Thanks to the required number crunching power, blockchain technologies helped the market for graphics cards and GPUs a lot.) Personally I don’t like Curecoin, but as always: Use it if you like it and if you know what you are doing. (Links: Am Rechner nebenher die Welt retten |

=== Caveats ===
Depending on the setting (Light/Medium/Full) of FAHcontrol, your computer can get quite hot. The older one of my computers does 24 hours/day folding in a cool room in the basement. It consumes a power of 26 Watts. The F@H setting is “Full”. It’s a fan-less mini computer, so no tear&wear of an internal fan needs to be considered. But there is an external fan. The computer won’t get damaged by the heat, because it adapts the CPU clock frequency in a way which doesn’t let it get too hot. In winter it won’t reach maximum temperature anyway. But in summer its temperature limits will get tested, even though the ambient temperature will stay below the 50°C maximum. So I added an external fan (14W). My other computer is a laptop computer. I chose the “Light” setting (which means that the GPU will not be used for folding).
        Super contributors use gaming computers with powerful CPUs and GPUs. And some show off impressive cooling machinery. Those gamers know what they are doing and can run F@H with maximum performance.

=== TeamViewer ===
I remote controlled up to three computers with TeamViewer. I don’t do that anymore. TeamViewer might think that you use that application commercially.

=== Smartphones ===
F@H does not run on smartphones, but there is a project for such devices. The Vodaphone “DreamLab” is a proprietary app. Of course it only runs during charging. I recommend to read the privacy statement.

=== Scams ===
Due to Covid19, F@H became much more popular, so take care not to install malware like fake applications which e.g. steal passwords. Don’t panic, but wherever scams are possible, you’ll have to deal with them. F@H is no exception. Possible scams are no reason not to contribute to F@H, but be aware of scams, e.g. foldingathomeapp.exe is malware! If you want to be on the save side, only install F@H software from and don’t touch anything else.

=== Snark Hunters ===
There are quite a few Snark related contributors to F@H (2020-08-27)

=== Join ===
You can share computer time too.

F@H Team 263865 | COVID19 | Wikipedia |Twitter | Facebook (en) | Facebook (de)

2020-03-31, update: 2021-10-27

Mike Batt: The Composing of the Snark

LCSNA Fall Meeting, 2021
WCLD Radio Alice
«Mike Batt presents “The Composing of the Snark”: Does setting Snark to music involve more forks and hope, or smiles and soap? Mike Batt takes us behind the music and details the creation of his concept album and West End stage musical The Hunting of the Snark

Mike’s session is scheduled
from 18:50 UTC to 19:25 UTC.



Mike Batt‘s presentation now is available on YouTube:



Two different objects can have similarities which might indicate that the objects are related. But the objects are not necessarily similar.

(1) In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the mad hatter asks: “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?” The answer seems to be simple: A raven is like a writing desk if you select a category as a set of properties, from which you can pick at least one property which both objects have in common. Then, with regard to that category, you can claim that the raven and the writing desk are similar: The communist Lenin has a nose, Joe Biden has a nose. Therefore Joe Biden is a communist. That’s how you can make almost anyththing similar to everything, even though the raven probably would not agree to be used as a writing desk. The bird might argue that things which have similar things in common are not necessarily similar things. Ravens are smart. The raven is like a writing-desk because the hatter is mad.
        However, artists can make things similar. If the nose of a face has been flipped upwards down and after that nose job looks like the nose of another face, then you can assume that the nose flipping artist wanted to give you a hint that his illustration is a reference to another illustration from which he borrowed that nose. Henry Holiday had the intention to make the nose of the face in his illustration quite similar to the face in the print to which he referred. (However, the artist is dead. Roland Barthes probably would not like my reckonings about Holiday’s intentions.)
※ Left: Detail. The Banker after his encounter with the Bandersnatch, depicted in Henry Holiday‘s illustration (woodcut by Joseph Swain) to the chapter The Banker’s Fate in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.
※ Right: Slightly horizontally compressed rendering of a detail of The Imagebreakers (1566-1568, aka Allegory of Iconoclasm), an etching by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder.

(2) There are incidental similarities. Some of them are accidental similarities. They look similar, but were not intended to be similar. In my mad hunt for similarities between Henry Holiday’s Snark illustrations and the works of other artists, I took a white spot in Henry Holiday’s illustration and William Sidney Mount’s painting as evidence for Henry Holiday’s intention to make his depiction of the Banker look similar to that painting. But the spot was almost too easy to spot, so I asked Ian Mortimer to help me. He checked prints which he made using the original wood block (not the electrotypes). There was no white spot. It turned out that the white spot in the Holiday’s Snark illustration is an error. The flaw perhaps sneaked into the picture when the electrotypes were made.

※ Left: Detail from an illustration by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark. I marked five possible references by Henry Holiday to a painting by William Sidney Mount. The sixth one (marked with a yellow circle) is an unintented similarity.
※ Right: William Sidney Mount’s painting The Bone Player (1856) in mirror view.

(3) Some similarities were clearly intended to be similar.
This one is quite unobtrusive.

※ Left: Detail from an illustration by Henry Holiday to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark depicting the Broker (upper left corner).
※ Right: Detail from an unknown artist: Edward VI and the Pope, a Tudor anti-papal allegory of reformation (16th century).

(4) Whether intentional or incidental, some similarities just help to use the face of Yoda’s look-alike without having to worry about any copyright.

2021-04-09, update: 2021-09-18

The Bard


Bycatch (found in 2013) from my Snark hunt:

more | John Tufail

2017-09-26, update: 2021-08-26

Easter Greeting

On 1875-10-25, C.L. Dodgson noted in his diary that publishing The Hunting of the Snark as a book «would give me a good opportunity to of circulating two papers (which might be lightly gummed in), one a new “Christmas Greeting” to my 40,000 child-readers, the other an advertisement for a house (and a garden perhaps) in or near London».

Later, as the book wasn’t ready for the Christmas sales, an Easter Greeting was lightly gummed into the book shortly before it was published.


Easter Greeting by Lewis Carroll, printed by James Parker & Co. (Oxford, 1876) for C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) privately on cream laid fine paper with the “Towgood Fine” watermark. Tipped in at front end paper of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 1st edition and 1st printing, Macmillan & Co. (London, 1876).
'Towgood Fine' watermark of the 'Easter Greeting' tipped in at the front end paper of Lewis Carroll’s 'The Hunting of the Snark'

2017-11-17, update: 2021-08-16

Knight Letter № 100

In July 2018, the members of the LCSNA (Lewis Carroll Society of North America) received the 100th Knight Letter.

Also in this issue, Goetz Kluge makes the case that a seventeenth-century engraving may have influenced Henry Holiday’s last illustration for The Hunting of the Snark. Goetz’s excellent blog about all things Snark is at

Preface to the Knight Letter № 100, LCSNA, 2018

On pages 55~56 you find a few lines which I wrote about the Baker and Thomas Cranmer in The Hunting of the Snark.

There also is an accompanying web page.
In the end, the Baker met the Boojum. As an allusion to Thomas Cranmer, the hero in Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy had been named “Baker” and also got some “hot” nicknames. Carroll went to the limits of black humor: The Baker got baked.

Incidentally, in parallel to my little note (p. 55~56 in the Knight Letter № 100) on the Baker’s hot names and on Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference to Thomas Cranmer’s burning, a paper «Life, Eternity and Everything, Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll» suggesting textual references from The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles has been published in The Carrollian (July 2018, № 31, p.25~41), a journal of the Lewis Carroll Society in the UK. The author, Karen Gardiner, is an Anglican priest. She also addresses the objections of Revd. C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) against the dogma addressed by Article № 42 of Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles.

Angus MacIntyre (1994), myself (2010, 2015, 2015), Mary Hibbs (2017), as well as Karen Gardiner (2018), we all independently from each other suggested that there are such references to Thomas Cranmer and his Forty-Two Articles (the Baker’s forty-two boxes). We arrived there coming from different starting points and different backgrounds. As for me, I initially just looked for Lewis Carroll’s (C.L. Dodgson’s) textual references as guidance for finding pictorial references in Henry Holiday’s illustrations.

Twitter | Reddit | Seven Coats | 42 Boxes


PS: A friend told me that the caterpillar (here without hookah) on the front page of the 100th Knight Letter is a Hickory Horned Devil.

2018-07-28, updated 2021-08-08