Knight Letter № 100

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

A friend told me that the caterpillar (here without hookah) on the front page is a Hickory Horned Devil.

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.

Incidentally, in parallel to my little note 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 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 knows the objections of Revd. C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) angainst the dogma Article 42 of Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles was about.

Karen Gardiner (2018) and I (2014), as well as Angus MacIntyre (1994) and Mary Hibbs (2017), we all suggested that there are references from Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark and to Thomas Cranmer (e.g. the Baker’s forty-two boxes) – coming from different starting points and different backgrounds. As for me, initially I just looked for Lewis Carroll’s (C.L. Dodgson’s) textual references as guidance for finding pictorial references in Henry Holiday’s illustrations.



2018-07-28, updated 2019-03-22

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:

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

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 the Snark matrix, a matrix with elements from The Hunting of the Snark in its rows and elements from the real world in its columns.

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).

I started my Snark hunt in December 2008. Initially I probably had been quite unwise. 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.

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.