Snark Forum

My blog has no forum. I don’t want do deal with privacy issues caused by storing user data. More important, I am too lazy to manage a forum. (That might change after my retirement from my engineering job in September 2021.)

But there is a nice (albeit presently not too active) Snark sub-forum managed by Mahendra Singh in It’s just the place to discuss Snark.

There you also will find some of my old posts. As I try to keep learning, I of course would write many of them differently today.

Hunting Snark in

If you want to comment on anything you find in the web about The Hunting of the Snark, I recommend to open a thread in that forum, enter the link you are referring to in the post, and write there what you want to discuss.

Comments: Twitter | Forum


Article 42 in the 42 Articles

#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.

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 June 2018, Karen Gardiner suggested that in The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll/Dodgson addressed the Article 42 in Thomas Cranmer‘s Articles.
        Gardiner’s paper (Life, Eternity, and Everything: Hidden Eschatology in the Works of Lewis Carroll, July 2018, p.25~41 in THE CARROLLIAN, No. 31) also was based on her knowledge as an Anglican Priest.
        My approach to a possible reference in The Hunting of the Snark to the 42 Articles was different. 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 2020-09-23

Mental Troubles

Perhaps I may venture for a moment to use a more serious tone, and to point out that there are mental troubles, much worse than mere worry, for which an absorbing object of thought may serve as a remedy.

  • There are sceptical thoughts, which seem for the moment to uproot the firmest faith;
  • there are blasphemous thoughts, which dart unbidden into the most reverent souls;
  • there are unholy thoughts, which torture with their hateful presence the fancy that would fain be pure.

Against all these some real mental work is a most helpful ally. That “unclean spirit” of the parable, who brought back with him seven others more wicked than himself, only did so because he found the chamber “swept and garnished,” and its owner sitting with folded hands. Had he found it all alive with the “busy hum” of active work, there would have been scant welcome for him and his seven!

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems and A Tangled Tale, 1885, p. XV;
see also: Life & Letters. Bulletpoints not by Dodgson.)


As any human, Carroll/Dodgson was battling with all kind of temptations. As we know, speculations about possible temptations in his private life keep feeding the pop culture Carroll debate since the 1930s. The controversy is marginalizing the religious conflicts which the Reverend Dodgson was struggling with. I think that one of these serious conflicts was Charles Darwin’s challenge to fundamental religious beliefs. Darwin’s discoveries surely had (and still have) the potential to uproot the firmest faith in various religions.

In the title of the book [Pillow-Problems, 2nd edition], the words “sleepless nights” have been replaced by “wakefull hours”.
        This last change has been made in order to allay the anxiety of friends, who have written to me to express their sympathy in my broken-down state of health, believing that I am a sufferer of chronic “insomnia”, and that it is a remedy for that exhausting malady that I have recommended mathematical calculation.
        The title was not, I fear, wisely chosen; and it certainly was liable to suggest a meaning I did not intend to convey, viz. that my “nights” are often wholly “sleepless”. This is by no means the case: I have never suffered from “insomnia”: and the over-wakeful hours, that I have had to spend at night, have often been simply the result of the over-sleepy hours I have spent during the preceding evening! Nor is it as a remedy for wakefulness that I have suggested mathematical calculation: but as a remedy for the harassing thoughts that are apt to invade a wholly-unoccupied mind.

I believe that an hour of calculation is much better for me than half-an-hour of worry.

(Charles Lutwidge Dodgson: Pillow Problems, preface to the second edition, 1893)

Carroll openly described how he used mental mathematical work to find distraction from “harassing thoughts”. I don’t know to which degree the illustrator Henry Holiday discussed and aligned with Carroll his choice of pictorial references in his illustrations to Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, but there is a pictorial reference to mental troubles: St. Anthony’s temptations (painting by Matthias Grünewald). In one of Holiday’s illustrations you see Colenso’s arithmetic textbook. Like Anthony, also Carroll needed lots of mental work as an distraction from sceptical, blasphemous and unholy thoughts. Anthony probably found help in the scriptures which were sacred to him. Interestingly, the Reverend Dodgson used mathematics to resist the temptations.

I saw this math textbook in Holiday’s illustration since many years. Only recently that led me to the assumption (which probably always will be just an assumption) that Holiday might have placed that book into his illustration as a hint to how Carroll used math to keep his brain busy with “some real mental work” as a “most helpful ally” in his battle against the temptations which haunted him.

By the way: Possible references in “The Hunting of the Snark” to St. Anthony and to Darwin had been addressed by Mahendra Singh already in June 2007, more than two years before I started my Snark hunt. He and John Tufail were among my most helpful scouts during my hunt.

2020-06-11, update: 2020-09-12

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, 2010, 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) – 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 2019-09-08

Benjamin Jowett

Need I rehearse the history of Jowett?
I need not, Senior Censor, for you know it.
That was the Board Hebdomadal, and oh!
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow!

C.L. Dodgson, from Notes by an Oxford chiel (1874)

For comparison (inspired by Dodgson?):

First come I. My name is J-W-TT.
There’s no knowledge but I know it.
I am Master of this College,
What I don’t know isn’t knowledge.

Source: The Balliol Rhymes (written in the 1880s), ed. W. G. Hiscock, 2nd edn. (1939; Oxford: printed for the editor, 1955): 1-25. PN 6110 C7H5 Robarts Library (Wikipedia: In 1880, seven undergraduates of Balliol published 40 quatrains of doggerel lampooning various members of the college under the title The Masque of B–ll––l, now better known as The Balliol Masque, in a format that came to be called the “Balliol rhyme“.The college authorities suppressed the publication fiercely.)

I suggest that The Barrister’s Dream in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is about E.B. Pusey’s attempt to trial Jowett for heresy at the Vice-Chancellor’s Court for unpaid bills for heresy. According to Karen Gardiner (see p. 55 below), the trial began on 1863-03-20. The judge was an academic common lawyer. Jowett’s lawyer objected to the formally civilian court being turned into something like a court of common law, which had no jurisdiction in spiritual matters. The Punch (the anonymous author Dodgson?) called it the “small debts and heresies court“. The judge disagreed, provided it could be shown that Jowett had been guilty of breaking any of the university statues. As this could not be shown, the case was dismissed. Thus, the trial was a mess like the trial in the Barrister’s dream.

“In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
      To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
      If you grant the plea ‘never indebted.’

See also:
※ John Tufail, The Jowett Controversy
※ Karen Gardiner, Escaping Justice in Wonderland (An adaption of a paper given at the Glasgow International Fantasy Conference 2018), published in The Carrollian No. 33 p. 47 ~ 60, March 2020 (abstract, 2018).

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2-10-04-06, update: 2020-09-08

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.


2017-09-04, updated 2020-07-16

When the Queen met the Boojum

This is the first page published in, a blog which was set up in 2017. It’s mostly about Lewis Carroll‘s, Henry Holiday‘s and Joseph Swain‘s illustrations to The Hunting of the Snark.

In his Illuminated Snark, John Tufail assumed that the night sky in the front cover of The Hunting of the Snark could be a map. Together with my assumption that Henry Holiday drew inspiration from several paintings by Marcus Gheeraerts (I+II), John’s paper helped me to find the Ditchley Portrait. That again helped me to find the painting by an unknown artist depicting Elizabeth I at old age.


2017-08-28, update 2020-02-27

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.)

“Edward VI and the Pope” on Twitter





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