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.
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), and borrowing isn’t necessarily evil.
2017-09-11, update: 2022-01-20
A Snark article in the Knight Letter
(with lots of help from the editors Chris Morgan and Mark Burstein)
Source: Knight Letter (ISSN 0193-886X), Fall 2017, Number 99
When I wrote this article, I failed to mention that already in 1973 Elizabeth Sewell pointed out in The Field of Nonsense that a line in Carroll’s poem has a similarity to a line in a limerick by Edward Lear (MG058). I am sorry for not having mentioned that.
I posted my article online with permission of the Knight Letter editors. In the online copy, I fixed the wrong URL kl.snr.de. It’s kl.snrk.de. Furthermore, four additional images have been attached to my online version.
2018-02-09, update: 2018-12-30: Reference to Elizabeth Sewell
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.