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Brexit, Hunting a Fantastical Beast

May government’s Brexit aims were never achievable – we’ve been hunting a fantastical beast all along
File 20181116 194519 67tlr3.png?ixlib=rb 1.1
The Snark – the beastly figment of imagination created by Lewis Carroll.
Image: Segment of an assemblage by G. Kluge of illustrations by C. Martens & T. Landseer, H. Holiday & J. Swain

Michael Keating, University of Aberdeen

 
The Brexit process started in March 2017 with the triggering of Article 50, allowing two years to complete the process. The main story since then has been of postponing difficult decisions in the hope that something would turn up. Ministers have insisted they have a mandate from the people but have struggled to agree on what it entails in practice. Negotiations within the UK government have been as difficult as those with the EU.

full article

Martin Gardner’s Snark Annotations

Today I start to refer to Martin Gardner’s annotations to The Hunting of the Snark in a more systematical way. Admittedly, I should have done that much earlier. I didn’t read the annotations carefully enough. As an example, Martin Gardner annotated (MG058) to The Hunting of the Snark that Elizabeth Sewell pointed out in The Field of Nonsense (1973) that a line in Carroll’s poem has a similarity to a line in a limerick by Edward Lear. I found that in Google.

I should have mentioned Elizabeth Sewell in my article Nose is a Nose is a Nose in the LCSNA Kight Letter № 99, Fall 2017, p. 30~31.

MG058” stands for the 58th annotation in the annotated Snark and links to articles and blog entries which contain issues to which Gardner had referred. In this case it is about Lewis Carroll’s and Edward Lear’s waistcoat poetry.

MG0” leads you to all entries in snrk.de which refer to issues addressed by Martin Gardner.

Hunting Snarks is innocent and wise!

Even while the blinding bandage lies,
Daughter of a Judge, upon thine eyes,
If the scales thou wield with care
Truth and Justice will declare
Hunting Snarks is innocent and wise!

Inscribed (1876-09-02) with an allusion to Justicia by Lewis Carroll into an edition (now owned by NYU) of The Hunting of the Snark owned by Charlotte Edith Denman, daughter of George Denman.

Source of the acrostic poem:
Rare, Uncollected, Unpublished & Nonexistent Verse of Lewis Carroll, Collected and Annoted by August A. Imholz, Jr. & Edward Wakeling, p. 30, LCSNA 2018, ISBN 978-0-930326-11-1.
The book is available to LCSNA members only.

Snark Explanations

by Mary Hammond, published on Nov 7, 2017. There also is an essay: Mary Hammond, Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark Explained.

Mary Hammond’s interpretation of course is not the first Snark interpretation. First hints on what the Snark could be about had been given to us by Henry Holiday and Philo M. Buck. And there is an excellent chapter on Carroll’s tragicomedy in Louise Schweitzer’s One Wild Flower. Oliver Sturm’s Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz is a German translation, which also contains an attempt to explain the Snark. And there is a Snark chapter in Klaus Reichert’s Lewis Carroll: Studien zum literarischen Unsinn. Reichert is another German Snark translator.

Among the interpretations known to me, Mary Hammond’s interpretation is the first one where Eternal Damnation is seen as one of the more important issues to which Lewis Carroll might have taken reference in The Hunting of the Snark. In Carroll’s poem, the Baker‘s Forty-Two Boxes led me to the same conclusion earlier.

In my correspondence with Mary Hammond (a pen ame of Mary Hibbs) she also told me about what in her view “…jum” in Boojum could stand for: Search for jumble in the chapter Of Reason in John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).

I too associate Boojum with the vanishing of reason – which too often is the beginning of violence. Yet, I’ll probably never know, whether my association is similar to what the Boojum meant to Carroll.

549    “It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
550        And seemed almost too good to be true.
551    Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
552        Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo-”

553    Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
554        A weary and wandering sigh
555    That sounded like “-jum!” but the others declare
556        It was only a breeze that went by.

 


My publications:
Knight Letter № 99: Nose is a Nose is a Nose
Knight Letter № 100: Burning the Baker

 


There now is a new paperback edition of Untangling the Knot: An Analysis of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 2019-10-06, by Sandra Mann (besides Mary Hammond another pen name of Mary Hibbs). She also sent me an additional article about a possible reference to Bishop Reginal Heber (1783-1826). See also: https://www.facebook.com/groups/lewiscarrollresources/permalink/2241199999492366/

2020-02-12: Untangling the Knot in PDF, 2018

 


2017-11-17, updated: 2018-12-02.

Joseph Swain

Joseph Swain engraved Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. As the details (including the hatching) of Holiday’s illustration drafts are important, I assume that Swain knew about Holiday’s pictorial allusions.

This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose. I found it in the Victorian Web in an article by Simon Cooke.

The Wontrenator makes Boods

Try “Word”+”Contraction”+”Generator” on the Word Contraction Generator and you get (among other offers) Wontrenator. “Bonnets”+”Hoods” gives you (among other offers) a Boods.

The contractor doesn’t do it, but when selecting A WORD WITH SOME LETTERS in the Word Mixer, the tool yields (among many other offers) Boots for “Bonnets“+”Hoods”.

 
Discussion: Twitter | Facebook

Wombats and Woodchucks

The drawing depicts Dante Gabriel Rossetti lamenting the death of his second wombat. Mary Hibbs (pen names: Mary Hammond and Sandra Mann) made me aware of the image and of the possibility that the Beaver in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark could have been a reference to Rossetti’s wombat.

The fame of Rossetti’s Wombat is lasting much longer than that poor animal itself, after having been transported for its short life from Australia to Chelsea. But there also was a “Canadian marmot or woodchuck” in Rosetti’s estate in Chelsea, where he moved into the Tudor House in 1862. Actually, Rosetty had two wombats. We also learned from Angus Trumble (Rossetti’s Wombat: A Pre-Raphaelite Obsession in Victorian England, 2003-04-16) that Rosetti had a little zoo in his garden aas well as friends living in his big house like the “deeply unattractive poet and semi-professional sadomasochist Algernon Charles Swinburne — who liked to slide naked down the banisters giest”. I guess that Rosetti’s mini-zoo was kept not even semi-professionally, but together with his friends and his dormouse, Rosetti surely was well prepared for mad tea parties. (See also: G.A.H.! (Gardner’s Annotations Hyperlinked) – The Dormouse and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Wombat, LCNSA.)

In The Hunting of the Snark, the Beaver was the Bellman‘s pet and became the Butcher‘s friend. Can anything from the real world be associated with that Beaver-Bellman-Butcher triple? This might expand my Snark matrix, a matrix with elements from The Hunting of the Snark in its rows and elements from the real world in its columns.

Douglas Young’s Snark



text


 
MusicWeb international, by Gary Higginson:

Douglas YOUNG (b.1947)
The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits)
Narrator – Peter Easton
Douglas Young – Piano and Percussion
The Leicestershire Chorale and Members of the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra/Peter Fletcher
rec. Bosworth College, Desford, 14 March 1982
CAMEO CLASSICS CC9106 [53.21]

… … …

What is so marvellous is how well the young instrumental musicians at the time, played and clearly reacted to the music (their names are listed in the booklet) and my colleague at the time on MusicWeb, John Whitmore, is quoted as saying “the playing is good absolute rather than good considering”, I can’t improve on those words.

The booklet contains the original, Monty Python type, illustrations you find in any good copy of the poem, by Henry Holiday (d.1927) as well as the complete Carroll text and biographies of the performers but no composer’s note on the work.

Mounty Python type! I like that.

Besides Lewis Carroll’s textual allusions and Henry Holiday’s pictorial allusions, I now also found a piece with musical allusions. Accompanying the Bellman’s “That English is what you speak” with Greensleeves is clear, whereas I don’t know whether Young meant to allude to Schnittke when I heared Schnittke. Then again, to choose Silent Night to accompany the Baker’s gruesome end is wonderfully naughty.

As far as I know, this recording is in the market since 2014. From MusicWeb it received three reviews, with Paul Corfield Godfrey‘s review inbetween Whitmore‘s and Higginson‘s reviews. As a layman I would like to add to these that if I ever would dare to try to learn The Hunting of the Snark by heart, I would use this recording to help me memorizing the text.

 

Remark: The links in the quoted text from MusicWeb had been added in snrk.de and were not part of the original text.

Media data: Libraries Australia

Snark Taming

Warren Buffet @warrenbuffet99 2018-08-26 15:18 UTC

The smartest people I know:

1   Don’t get easily offended
2   Read more than they talk
3   Enjoy intelligent discourse
4   Quickly admit when they’re wrong
5   Comfortable changing their opinion
6   Surround themselves w/ intelligence
7   Seek to understand every perspective on a topic

 


The Snark is not necessarily evil.

197    “He remarked to me then,” said that mildest of men,
198        “ ‘If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
199    Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
200        And it’s handy for striking a light.

Let’s strike a light and help the Snark not to turn into a Boojum: Snark taming.

His Hair

001    “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
002        As he landed his crew with care;
003    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
004        By a finger entwined in his hair.

Henry Holiday interpreted “his hair” as the Banker’s hair, not as the Bellman’s hair. Among those who commented on The Hunting on the Snark, that also seems to be the the common understanding of the ambiguously used pronoun “his”. However, if the hair would be the Bellman’s hair, what kind of finger would have been used to support the Banker?

more about the Bellman

Snark and Boojum Today

Lewis Carroll’s and Henry Holiday’s The Hunting of the Snark made me digging into British history and the history the Anglican church (especially the Oxford Movement).

It’s not history, at least not a finished one.

To me, Carroll’s tragicomedy (a tragedy in Henry Holiday’s view) is about the doctrinal conflicts (some of them lethal) arising along the travel to truth, whatever that might be. These conflicts within and between belief systems surely didn’t end today. Also the concrete disputes which might have inspired the Rev. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) in the 19th century seem to be going on even today. All that is quite strange to me (not only because I am a German). I can’t take sides, because I don’t even understand how and why the disputed issues can be issues at all.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/church-england-has-sent-clear-message-its-conservative-churchgoers-youre-not-wanted-1611289:

The Church of England has sent a clear message to its conservative churchgoers – you’re not wanted.

The treatment of Bishop Philip North, an Anglo-Catholic, shows the Church’s prospects for unity are grim.
By Andrew Sabisky March 13, 2017 13:16 GMT

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the Church of England is at it again. Fresh off a truly disastrous session of General Synod (the Church’s parliament), it has plunged itself headlong into further public ignominy.

The latest disaster concerns Bishop Philip North, currently the Bishop of Burnley. He was chosen by the bureaucracy to be the new Bishop of Sheffield (a promotion from suffragan to diocesan status). []

Not only the ongoing struggles in the Anglican Church still are turning Snarks into Boojums. The multicultural beasts are very alife today, perhaps more than ever.


106        … the Captain they trusted so well
107    Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
108        And that was to tingle his bell.

109    He was thoughtful and grave—but the orders he gave
110        Were enough to bewilder a crew.
111    When he cried “Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!”
112        What on earth was the helmsman to do?

113    Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
114        A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
115    That frequently happens in tropical climes,
116        When a vessel is, so to speak, “snarked.”

117    But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
118        And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
119    Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
120        That the ship would not travel due West!

Beyond Oxford and beyond the church, Carroll’s tragicomedy also applies to the conflicts (some of them lethal) arising along the travel to truth in worldly matters. In the last years more and more Boojums got in the way of the travellers. Most of them are notorious liars. How evil they are you’ll understand if you see what kind of leadership they admire.

 
1st post: 2017-01-21, update: 2018-08-07

Illustrated Poetry 
in the Victorian Period

Since https://victorianpoetrypoeticsandcontext.wikispaces.com/ edited by Alison Chapman will be shut down together with wikispaces.com on 2018-07-31, I mirror their wiki page on the Lewis Carroll Picture Book in my blog and quote a paragraph on Illustrated Poetry in the Victorian Period:

Advances in technology made it possible for any given literary volume to be published en masse, thus expanding the book market extensibly. Previously, manuscript copies of a writer’s work were limited, due to the laborious effort it took to recreate these volumes; however, following the invention of the printing press, books became less of a luxury item, and, therefore, more accessible to less wealthy households.

This caused value to shift from the rarity of a book to its other additive qualities, spurring a tradition of adding corresponding illustrations to increase a books’ aesthetic appeal. Publishers encouraged 19th century writers to include pictures alongside their prose and poetry in order to draw in greater profit for themselves: these companies anticipated greater sales of an illustrated volume that of its unembellished counterpart, and were able to attach a higher price tag to each of these lavish copies.

Despite this pressure and undeniable popularity, poets were often still hesitant to publish their works accompanied by such adornments due to the notion that visual aids might skew the reader’s perception of the verse.

The choice of Stuart Dodgson Collingwood to include his uncle’s personal sketches [in the Lewis Carroll Picture Book (1899)] indicates an attempt to appeal to the gift book market, and, further, reveals the publisher’s own aspiration to profit monetarily from his personal relationship to Lewis Carroll– notorious author and poet, but lesser-known sketch artist. Through composing this augmented edition of Carroll’s most prominent titles, Collingwood undoubtedly capitalized on this pre-established celebrity while simultaneously preserving his uncle’s notoriety.

(Alison Chapman credits the wiki page on the Lewis Carroll Picture Book to an undergraduate student who prefers to be anonymous.)

From Rule 42 to Rule 51 in Germany

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out ‘Silence!’ and read out from his book, ‘Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT.’ Everybody looked at Alice.
‘I’m not a mile high,’ said Alice.
‘You are,’ said the King.
‘Nearly two miles high,’ added the Queen.
‘Well, I shan’t go, at any rate,’ said Alice: `besides, that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.’
‘It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.
‘Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, chapter XII

In the 1952 German dubbed version of Disney’s 1951 Alice movie, “Rule 42” had been replaced by “Paragraph 51”. Nobody can really know what “42” stands for, but in Germany “he has the article 51” (“Er hat den Paragraph 51“) meant “He is mad”. It was until the year 1975 that the article 51 of the German penal code provided the legal base for insanity defense.

Lewis Carroll’s “Rule 42” might not have been plain nonsense.

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