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On Borrowing

One of the surest tests [of a poet’s superiority or inferiority] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

T. S. Eliot, p. 114 in The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism, 1920

 
Likewise, a good illustrator welds the theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different and sometimes even funnier than that from which it is torn.

And Lewis Carroll may have borrowed from Thomas Gray.

 
2018-02-18, update: 2019-01-05 (Thomas Gray)

Thing-um-a-jig!

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
  Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What-you-may-call-um!” or “What-was-his-name!”
  But especially “Thing-um-a-jig!”

Page 83


(Source: sheltonfamilystore.com)

Do you think that this “baker” on page 83 really proves that the book is a first edition and that it should be “butcher”? You find the answer in any contemporary Snark edition.

More Examples for advertising the first edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, offered for prices between €200 and €1000:

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. A “Baker” in that line is no proof that the book is a rare first Snark edition. All copies are printed this way, because that is how it should be. In Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you see the head and a hand of the Baker, not the Banker (and not the Butcher either). Remember, the Banker had to be left behind in the previous chapter, so he cannot show up in the final chapter.

Thus, there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” This alleged error is a myth. Those rare book traders just didn’d (and still 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. It’s “bribe”. You can find “It will never look at a bride” in the Internet many times. But that’s wrong.

 

Discussion: Facebook (rare books) | Facebook (The hunting of the Snark) | Twitter

 
2018-04-02, update 2019-07-02

 


Removed (not by me) from Wikipedia

Rare book sellers often claim, that the first edition of ”The Hunting of the Snark” can be identified by the word “Baker” instead of “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line on page 83. However, “Where the Baker had met with the Snarkis correct. “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line is wrong. Also “bribe” in the 386th line on page 55 is correct, even though in the Internet the erratic “It never will look at a bride” can be found.

(The hyperlinks in this text where not part of the WP text.)

 


Schilb Antiquarian (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.) via AbeBooks.com, 2020-02-13

[…] This rare first edition is complete with the nine illustrations by Henry Holiday and features the expected first edition points (noted below). Item number: #9505 Price: $750 CARROLL, Lewis The hunting of the snark: an agony in eight fits London: MacMillan, 1876. First edition Details: Collation: Complete with all pages xi, [3], 83, [3] 9 illustrations by Henry Holiday Edition points: p.83 baker instead of butcher rear board I Was a Boojum […]

 
2019-11-26, updated 2020-02-13

Untangling the Knot

Untangling the Knot
An Analysis of Lewis Carroll’sThe Hunting of the Snark

by Sandra Mann, 2018

[…] The Hunting of the Snark is an allegory for the journey of life which Carroll crafted very carefully to include “difficulties” which he believed had come about because of human error. Life as a journey by boat had long been a favorite metaphor of Carroll’s. In this case the tale would not be of a sweet row on a placid river, but one of a voyage filled with fear and bewilderment and dread. And the moral, that despite our bewilderment, we would all be saved through God’s love and compassion in the end. […]

 
(Sandra Mann and Mary Hammond are pen names of Mary Hibbs.)

Failure?

https://bookbarnbbi.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/pick-of-the-darwin-room/:

[…] When [The Hunting of the Snark] was published in 1876 it was illustrated by Henry Holiday who, though a very talented artist, failed to capture the surreal nature of Carroll’s poem. The illustrations for this edition however, provided by Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake, are the perfect accompaniment. Peake’s drawings have an uneasy bubbling quality, blending with the silly and macabre feel of the words […]

Nothing against Mervyn Peake’s illustrations, but already this illustration (even without the yellow lines and dots which I added) might contain more elements of “surreal nature” than what you find in Mervyn Peake’s illustrations. I like those playful weeds (or animals?) in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.

That’s not the only thing which that corner has to offer.

Another popular path (not) to understand The Hunting of the Snark has been stated more than three times: Some call Carroll’s poem “nonsense”. It isn’t.

Anyway, I don’t think that Holiday failed to convey to us graphically what Carroll meant. The price for his achievement perhaps was that Holiday’s illustrations are less eye pleasing than illustrations like Peake’s.

Holiday’s illustrations are as grotesque as Carroll’s poem.

 
2018-02-16, updated: 2020-02-01

From Horses to Playful Weeds

[left]: Illustration to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) by Henry Holiday: The Vanishing (detail from lower left side depicting some weeds which seem to have some fun with each other)
[right]: John Martin: The Bard (ca. 1817, detail from lower left side, retinex filtered and vectorized, then slightly horizontally compressed)


 

overview | Twitter

 
2018-02-17, updated: 2020-02-01

Snark Assemblage


Here I just inserted (2012-08-18) details from Henry Holiday’s Snark illustrations to the 1st Snark fit into Thomas Landseer’s illustration.

You can use the assemblage in compliance with license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Main artists: Conrad Martens & Thomas Landseer, Henry Holiday & Joseph Swain.

more (with a high resolution image) | search “SnarkAssemblage”

 
2017-09-23, update: 2020-01-30

Hideously Ugly

Jun 13, 1862: Saw Millais’ “Carpenter’s Shop” at Ryman’s. It is certainly full of power, but hideously ugly: the faces of the Virgin and Christ being about the ugliest.

I found this quote in Lewis Carroll’s Diaries on Twitter.

And I found the following quote from Charles Dickens in Pre-Raphernalia, Raine Szramski‘s blog with “Pre-Raph Sketchbook Cartoons”.

You behold the interior of a carpenter’s shop. In the foreground of that carpenter’s shop is a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering, red-headed boy, in a bed-gown, who appears to have received a poke in the hand, from the stick of another boy with whom he has been playing in an adjacent gutter, and to be holding it up for the contemplation of a kneeling woman, so horrible in her ugliness, that (supposing it were possible for any human creature to exist for a moment with that dislocated throat) she would stand out from the rest of the company as a Monster, in the vilest cabaret in France, or the lowest ginshop in England.

Two almost naked carpenters, master and journeyman, worthy companions of this agreeable female, are working at their trade; a boy, with some small flavor of humanity in him, is entering with a vessel of water; and nobody is paying any attention to a snuffy old woman who seems to have mistaken that shop for the tobacconist’s next door, and to be hopelessly waiting at the counter to be served with half an ounce of her favourite mixture. Wherever it is possible to express ugliness of feature, limb, or attitude, you have it expressed. Such men as the carpenters might be undressed in any hospital where dirty drunkards, in a high state of varicose veins, are received. Their very toes have walked out of Saint Giles’s.

 

Perhaps Dickens initially saw the reproduction of Millais’ painting in the Illustrated London News (1850-05-11) and couldn’t forget that first impression. It seems that the engraver of the reproduction was a bit biased against Millais’ Carpenter’s Shop. (Twitter)


 

Whether ugly or not, Henry Holiday probably liked the painting of his teacher. He might have alluded to Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents when he illustrated Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark.

 

Category: Christ in the House of his Parents

 
2019-06-14, updated 2020-01-29

Bathing-Machines

The fourth [Snark mark] 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] is 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 “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.

 
more

 
2018-05-24, editet: 2020-01-22

Snark too Dark

On the left side of this image comparison you see a scan (source: commons.wikimedia.org) 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.

The image on the right side has been generated from a scan of an original illustration from my own 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark, where I grew the white areas a bit. (First I enlarged the image by 2:1. Then I applied GIMP → Filters → Generic → Erode. After that I scaled the image back to its previous size.)

In prints made by Ian Mortimer (for a limited edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by Macmillan in 1993) from Joseph 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 am not sure whether in the original printing from electrotypes the dark areas of the illustration might have grown wider than it was intended by Henry Holiday. It looks as if too much black ink had spilled into the white areas. But Ian Mortimers wood prints are as dark as the electrotype prints. If this was overprinting, then Lewis Carroll must have tolerated it.

In order to fix overprinting with the technology available to in the 19th century printers, one perhaps would have to redo the electrotypes and then try to erode the black areas using etching. Or just less ink would just do the job. But I don’t know too much about electrotyping (and printing in general), so I am just guessing here. Whatsoever, since many Snark editions hade been sold already, the dark Snark with the well hidden face of the Baker is the standard today (if it wasn’t intentional anyway).

Further reading: Lewis Carroll’s cat-astrophe, and other literary kittens by Mark Brown, The Guardian, 2018-11-22. (A tweet by Susan J. Cheadle drew my attention to that article. “Carroll’s Trump-like anger at the printing of his book Through the Looking-Glass and what Alice Found There is revealed in a new exhibition opening at the British Library which explores and celebrates cats in literature.” (As for cats, you might like my bog post “Kitty”.))

For discussion: Twitter 2 | Twitter 1 | Facebook

 
2018-06-17, updated: 2020-01-20