As to the meaning of the Snark, I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense. Still, you know, words mean more than we mean to express when we use them; so a whole book ought to mean a great deal more than the writer means. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I’m glad to accept as the meaning of the book. The best that I’ve seen is by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the search after happiness.
What disturbs and depresses young people is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arises constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness hover before us in our dreams, and we search in vain for their original. Much would have been gained if, through timely advice and instruction, young people could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them.
(Günther Flemming made me aware of this quote in a comment to his translation of The Hunting of the Snark, p. 156, ISBN 978-3-8442-6493-7)
Authors, who say that they “don’t not know” whether their book is satire, quite probably lie. Such honest lies are less boring that telling that they won’t tell. (That is a difference to presidents who lie openly because it shows that they have the power to do that.)
Of course “The Hunting of the Snark” contains satire. Dodgson wasn’t stupid. Satirists who explain their work would kill their work. E.g. in case of the “bathing machines“, “The Hunting of the Snark” took a reference to one of Carroll’s obvious satires.
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 http://snrk.de/
Karen Gardiner (2018) and I (2015), as well as Angus MacIntyre (1994) and Mary Hibbs (2017), we all 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, 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.
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.
This is about Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, published more than 140 years ago. This also is about Thomas Cranmer. He and the Baker (the ambivalent hero in The Hunting of the Snark) perhaps hoped that after having left their 42 articles behind, the Boojum won’t get them.
The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. However, mature readers (at age hundred-forty or so) might feel, that it ends with a reference to the burning of Thomas Cranmer in 1556.
The image serves to compare two illustrations:
Henry Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Vanishing in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876). The complete illustration is on the upper left side. A 135° couterclockwise rotated detail from that illustration has been rendered on the upper right side of this comparison image.
Source: 1st edition of The Hunting of the Snark (April 1876).
Faiths Victorie in Romes Crueltie (published by Thomas Jenner, c. 1630). Immediately to the right side of the fire, Thomas Cranmer is depicted burning his hand.
License: CC BY-SA 4.0.
Source: Folger Digital Image Collection
The rotated detail from Henry Holiday’s illustration neither is a “claw” nor a “beak”. I assume that it depicts a fire. And there is a hand in both fires. Carroll and Holiday almost too successfully made sure that the readers of The Hunting of the Snark don’t understand that too early.
In answer to your question, “What did you mean the Snark was?” will you tell your friend that I meant that the Snark was a Boojum. I trust that she and you will now feel quite satisfied and happy.
To the best of my recollection, I had no other meaning in my mind, when I wrote it: but people have since tried to find the meanings in it. The one I like best (which I think is partly my own) is that it may be taken as an Allegory for the Pursuit of Happiness. The characteristic “ambition” works well into this theory—and also its fondness for bathing-machines, as indicating that the pursuer of happiness, when he has exhausted all other devices, betakes himself, as a last and desperate resource, to some such wretched watering-place as Eastbourne, and hopes to find, in the tedious and depressing society of the daughters of mistresses of boarding-schools, the happiness he has failed to find elsewhere.
With every good wish for your happiness, and for the priceless boon of health also, I am
Always affectionately yours,
In The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll (1982, edited by Morton Cohen) and in all copies of this letter in the internet, C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) is being quoted as having addressed Mary Barber with “My dear May”, not with “My dear Mary”. I learned that “My dear May” is correct: Quora | Yahoo Groups | Twitter
Page from a letter (1876-01-04) by C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) to Henry Holiday about Holiday’s illustration to the chapter The Beaver’s Lesson. The two lines at the bottom are notes written by Henry Holiday.