snrk.de

About this site:
Snrk.de mostly is about Henry Holiday‘s illustrations (engraved by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll‘s tragicomical ballad The Hunting of the Snark.
        If – and the thing is wildly possible – the charge of writing nonsense were ever brought against the author of this great blog, I will not (as I might) point to the fact that throughout my Snark hunt, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart; and that the crooked Boojum also played its cards very hard and, as everyone knows, failed to stop me – which would qualify me as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!
        As promised, I will not point to that – even though it would be true if I would state it three times. Very true. Very, very true. Rather, I point to those (like John Tufail and Mahendra Singh) who really helped and encouraged me and, last not least, to those many people who turned the Internet into a humongous museum through which I could stroll while loafing on my sofa. That was the place where my Snark hunt started in December 2008, and snrk.de is place for presenting my trophies since 2012.
        On 2017-10-09, snrk.de underwent a major change. I added a blog to the site and rearranged it completely. If you previously used links to snrk.de and your browser now doesn’t find them anymore: Some of these links still may work if you replace snrk.de by old.snrk.de.

In snrk.de you’ll find a few assumptions:

  • The Beaver‘s lace making is “wrong” (in Carroll’s view) if lace making stands for vivisection.
  • Lewis Carroll liked to create “portmanteau words”. I think that the Boots is the maker of Bonnets and Hoods and that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only, not ten.
  • Last not least, since 2010 I think that the most important assumption is that Thomas Cranmer could be among the historical persons to whom the Baker (with four nicknames related to something which was heated or burned) might be related.
            As a protestant, Cranmer wrote the Forty-Two Articles. Under threat, he left those articles behind like the Forty-Two Boxes, which the Baker left behind on the beach. Then Carroll associated the Baker with pets of catholic saints: Macarius’ hyenas and Corbinian’s bear.
            Already in 1994, Angus MacIntyre suggested: “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), p. 51~52. Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference to Thonas Cranmer’s burning confirms the link between The Hunting of the Snark and Thomas Cranmer.


About me:
I am an electronics and mechatronics engineer living near Munich in Germany. I know how to work scientifically, but not in the field of arts and literature. In that field of research I am an amateur. Therefore I don’t have to protect any reputation in academic Snarkology ;-). Nevertheless, if you publish papers about, for example, references from The Hunting of the Snark to Thomas Cranmer, please give credit to those, who addressed that topic already. That’s me (2010, 2010, 2015), but also Karen Gardiner (2018), Mary Hibbs (2017, pen names: Mary Hammond and Sandra Mann) and Angus MacIntyre (1994).


Blog:
※ Posts and Pages: I use WordPress to run snrk.de. WordPress offers to publish “posts” and “pages”. In this blog you will often find pairs of articles where one of them is a post and the other one is a page. In such a pair of articles, both have the same title where the post is a brief blog article and the associated page then goes into more detail.
Comments: I disabled the commenting function for almost all articles. Sorry, there is too much bot spam.


Contact:

In order to avoid collecting personal user data and to minimize spam, I disabled blog registration.


Privacy policy and data protection:
This site complies with the European General Data Protection Regulation. The blog snrk.de itself does not collect your private data. But some pages have embedded content (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.) which might not respect your privacy sufficiently. If you don’t like that, don’t use snrk.de!


Licenses:
CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 is the license for images in this blog if not indicated otherwise.


Götz Kluge, Munich 2018-07-07, update: 2020-07-25

Greens

Some meanings might not have been what Carroll thought of, but he left lots of space for many meanings you can think of. I, for example, associate growing greens with high electricity bills. Others have other ideas.

“The Hunting of the Snark” by Lewis Carroll: It’s said of the Snark, “You may serve it with greens.” As the author is a mathematician, this means Green’s Theorem being applied as a minor step, and the Snark stands for a theorem that is fiendishly difficult to prove.

😉 Markian Gooley, 2020-07-17 😉

The Snark’s Significance

Henry Holiday: The Snark’s Significance, 1898-01-29 (The Academy, p. 128)

It is possible that the author was half-consciously laying a trap, so readily did he take to the inventing of puzzles and things enigmatic; but to those whok new the man, or who have divined him correctly through his writings, the explanation is fairly simple.

Mr.Dodgson had a mathematical, a logical, and a philosophical mind; and when these qualities are united to a love of the grotesque, the resultant fancies are sure to have a quite peculiar charm, a charm so much the greater because its source is subtle and eludes all attempts to grasp it.

Attached to Holiday’s article there also is a letter from Carroll/Dodgson.

Holiday’s Butcher and Millais’ Raleigh

But perhaps Holiday’s ruff – and the pose of the Fit Five drawing – was inspired by the Elizabethan drama inherent in Millais’ Boyhood of Raleigh, (1869).

Louise Schweitzer, One Wild Flower (2012)

A popular approach to avoid frustration and embarrassment is to claim that the meaning of the Snark is elusive. But some try to understand it nevertheless. For those courageous readers I take this post as an occasion to recommend Louise Schweitzer’s doctoral thesis One Wild Flower.

 
more

 
2017-09-04, updated 2020-07-16

Blur

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, squinting or looking at an image through a feather did the trick.

Squinting 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.
 

2017-12-28, updated: 2020-07-14

Waistcoat Poetry

 

There was an old man of Port Grigor,
Whose actions were noted for vigour;
He stood on his head
till his waistcoat turned red,
That eclectic old man of Port Grigor.

Edward Lear, 1872

 

He was black in the face,
and they scarcely could trace
The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright
that his waistcoat turned white –
A wonderful thing to be seen!

Lewis Carroll, from “The Hunting of the Snark”, 1876

 
 

Martin Gardner annotated (MG058) to The Hunting of the Snark that Elizabeth Sewell pointed out in The Field of Nonsense (1952) that a line in Carroll’s poem has a similarity to a line in a limerick by Edward Lear.

See also:



In The Field of Nonsense (I use a 2015 reprint), Elizabeth Sewell compared Carroll’s waistcoat stanza and Lears’s waistcoat limerick while taking a safe distance to considering “mutual plagiarism” by stating that “there is no evidence that either man was familiar with the other’s work”, adding that “the likeness do not in any case suggest borrowings…” (p. 9). However, Carroll/Dodgson knew Lear’s work (Marco Graziosi).

 
2017-09-11, update: 2020-07-10

Carroll’s Honest Lie

Authors, who say that they “don’t not know” whether their book is satire, quite probably lie. Such honest lies are less boring that telling that they won’t tell. (That is a difference to presidents who lie openly because it shows that they have the power to do that.)

Of course “The Hunting of the Snark” contains satire. Dodgson wasn’t stupid. Satirists who explain their work would kill their work. E.g. in case of the “bathing machines“, “The Hunting of the Snark” took a reference to one of Carroll’s obvious satires.

Twitter

 
2019-06-23, update: 2020-07-04

Lime Twig

I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, some time afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza.

Source: Lewis Carroll in Alice on Stage, The Theatre, April 1887.
See also: http://kellyrfineman.blogspot.de/2007/02/snark-was-boojum-you-see-poetry-friday.html

That walk over the hills near Guildford took place on 1874-07-18. I think that leaving such a nice origination story to his readers is part of Carroll’s skillful marketing of his Snark ballade.

Oliver Sturm, who translated The Hunting of the Snark into German (Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz. 1996, ISBN 978-3-15-009433-4, p. 85) called that a “lime twig for critics” (“Leimrute für Kritiker”).

I don’t think that Carroll really misleads his readers when he said “I know not what it means”. He just made his poem as ambiguous as possible. The motive: Widening the interpretation space of his Snark poem. With that wider space, a book makes more readers happy (and therefore sells better, which is a nice side effect).

In case his readers (like me) think they have discovered some obfuscated meaning, it is the reader (again like me) who can be hold responsible for her or his interpretation, not the author. So, as for my interpretations, there still is the possibility that I am misleading myself.

This is why the Snark hunt never will end.

 
2017-12-17, update: 2020-07-03

Fact Checks

  • Ambiguous: The “Boots” and “the maker of Bonnets and Hoods” in The Hunting of the Snark are two different persons.
  • Unproven: The assumption that Carroll was on drugs when he wrote the Alice books.
  • Sometimes wrong: Carroll quotes. Check them.
  • Likely wrong: The assumption that the “Ocean Chart” (the Bellman’s map) in The Hunting of the Snark was made by Henry Holiday.
  • Wrong: The assumption that C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) invented the word “Snark”.
  • Wrong: The claim by rare book sellers that only the first issue of The Hunting of the Snark has “Baker” on page 83.
  • Wrong: The assumption that there is photographic evidence that Alice Liddell as a child kissed C.L. Dodgson.
  • Wrong (snopes.com): The story that C.L. Dodgson sent an admiring Queen Victoria a copy of An Elementary Treatise on Determinants.

 


Not Lewis Carroll

 
2019-07-12, updated: 2020-06-08

Henry Holiday and the maker or Bonnets and Hoods

Watch those fingers: The photo has been “photoshopped” (by Henry Holiday or Joseph Swain?) already many years before I worked on it using GIMP. Holiday’s tinkering with the little finger and the thumb of his left hand might be a “Victorian craze“.

The image shows Henry Holiday and segments of one of Henry Holiday’s illustrations (cut by Joseph Swain) to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. The segments show the Bonnetmaker and a bonnet.

The Bonnetmaker drawing could be a little self portrait of and by Henry Holiday. However, the photo is several years older than Holiday’s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark. Perhaps it is a portrait taken by Joseph Swain or a self portrait taken by Henry Holiday quite a few years after the Snark was published. Henry Holiday was younger when he illustrated Carroll’s Snark tragicomedy.

Henry Holiday and the Bonnetmaker have one thing in common: They are creative artists. So is Joseph Swain, who engraved that illustration. How did his face look like in 1876?

 


Such little self portraits have a long tradition.

In German there is term “Assistenzfigur”. That is a person positoned in the background or beside the main person or main object depicted in a painting. You may think of such a person as the static version of a “film extra” in a movie. She or he serves a a kind of helper or assistant. Sometimes one of these extras is the artist who made the painting. In German we call such an image in the image an “Assistenzselbstbildnis” or “Assistenzselbstbild” or “Selbstbildnis in Assistenz”. Perhaps the first known self-portraits in assistance where a kind of signature of the artist.

The “self-portrait in assistance” first became available since the 14th century to master builders and sculpturer, shortly after that in Italy also to fresco painters, and since the 15th and 16th century also to painters of large altar- and panel paintings; see Raupp, S. 8

Source (in German): Footnote on p. 162 in Suzanne Valadon – Identitätskonstruktion… (2001) by Valeska Doll referring to Untersuchungen zu Künstlerbildnissen und Künstlerdarstellungen in den Niederlanden im 17. Jahrhundert (1984) by Hans-Joachim Raupp.

In that matter there also are references to Raupp in Melanie Munduch: Die Selbstbildnisse Luca Giordanos (2012)

 


#Assistenzselbstbildnis: Twitter

For diskussion of the finger “photoshopping”: Twitter

Original post: 2017-09-28. Update: 2020-06-01

Snark Radio Play

Sadly, it’s not online anymore.

 


https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06sbrxh/clips (2020-01-02):

Tony Robinson narrates this fresh adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic masterpiece following a strange assortment of characters on their quest for an elusive beast.

Led by a bell-ringing Captain, this motley crew must brave terrifying danger in their chaotic pursuit of a creature known as Snark. Accompanied by specially composed music and songs, this surreal tale questions whether anything is really what it seems. …

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in December 2015.

Streaming: 2020-01-02 – 2020-01-31

Credits:
– Narrator: Tony Robinson
– Bellman: Eric Potts
– Baker: Paul Barnhill
– Butcher: Everal A Walsh
– Barrister: Jonathan Keeble
– Snark (in the Barrister’s dream): Jonathan Keeble
– Beaver: Stephen Hoyle
– Music and songs (composer): Katie Chatburn
– Music (performers):
    – Katie Chatburn
    – Dorry Macaulay
    – Kathryn Williams
    – Stephen Cordiner
    – Jasper Wilkinson
– Director: Charlotte Riches
– Author: Lewis Carroll

 
2020-01-02, update 2020-05-15

Crossover Literature

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. It is crossover literature. You read it differently at different ages. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. Adult readers (at age hundred-forty or so) know more. Some of them will recognize the textual and pictorial references in Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain’s tragicomedy..

Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark has been published more than 140 years ago. It is a reference to the burning of 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.

...jum!

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.

 
2018-05-07, update 2020-09-24

Gags and Serious Stuff