Crossover Literature

The Hunting of the Snark needs to be read at least twice. It is crossover literature. You read it differently at different ages. The book is an excellent example for crossover literature: Children read it as a nonsense story. It is “dark”, but funny nevertheless. Adult readers (at age hundred-forty or so) know more. Some of them will recognize the textual and pictorial references in Lewis Carroll, Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain’s tragicomedy..

Henry Holiday’s illustration to the final chapter of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark has been published more than 140 years ago. It is a reference to the burning of 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 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 their references to Thomas Cranmer too early: Carroll’s tragycomedy was published in 1876. In 1994, Angus MacIntyre suggested: “The Baker’s 42 Boxes are the original Protestant Articles of 1553, with Thomas Cranmer’s name on each.” in The Reverend Snark, Jabberwocky 23(1994), p. 51~52. Henry Holiday’s pictorial reference (I started to search for it in 2010) to Thomas Cranmer’s burning confirms the link between The Hunting of the Snark and Thomas Cranmer.

2018-05-07, update 2021-01-24


Lewis Carroll needed a clear mind for his writings. Drugs like laudanum would not have been helpful during writing.

The drug link is a homespun thing. You’ll find it on a host of random forums.

But the experts are usually sceptical. Carroll wasn’t thought to have been a recreational user of opium or laudanum, and the references may say more about the people making them than the author.

“The notion that the surreal aspects of the text are the consequence of drug-fuelled dreams resonates with a culture, particularly perhaps in the 60s, 70s and 80s when LSD was widely-circulated and even now where recreational drugs are commonplace,” says Dr Heather Worthington, Children’s Literature lecturer at Cardiff University.

Source: Is Alice in Wonderland really about drugs?
(by Sophie Robehmed, BBC magazine 2012-08-20)


Let me be perfectly clear here: Lewis Carroll didn’t do recreational drugs. Certainly there were drug references in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and these were picked up on by people with interests in that area, particularly in the late sixties. That is not to say that Carroll never took Laudanum for a medical problem on the advice of a doctor. There is NO direct proof (in his letters or his diaries) that he ever took narcotic drugs. You might ask yourself why students insist that he did and why some teachers teach that he did.

Source: (2002)


2019-12-12, update: 2020-11-29

Breakfast at five-o’clock tea

Snark mark 2/5:

Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
 That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
 And dines on the following day.

In November 1859, Dodgson gave a lecture at a meeting of the Ashmolean Society on “Where does the Day begin?”. A clock traveling around the earth with the sun always exactly above of it could stand still but always would be correct. (It’s almost like the mad tea-party having always six o’clock while moving around the table.) Only the day date suddenly would change somewhere. (That’s where in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland the March Hare quickly changes the topic.)

There neither were internationally defined time zones yet, nor an internationally agreed date line when Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle travelled around the world, but when he (and the Snark) breakfasted in Tahiti, it probably already was around tea time back home in Carroll’s Oxford. From there it carries us far away, when we imagine breakfasting in Tahiti.

On 2020-10-22 I found a twitter thread, where John Pretorius showed, that he interpreted (and applied) Lewis Carroll’s “breakfasts at five-o’clock tea” stanza in the same way as I did.

Discussion: Facebook | Twitter [2][1]

2019-08-16, updated 2020-10-22

Snarks Have Five Unmistakable Marks

As I reported in the Associations Blaster (2014-03-08), Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Henry Holiday kept a Snark as a pet. They fed it with «greens», but as growing greens led to horrible electricity bills, Dodgson and Holiday could not afford to keep their Snark any longer. It took many years until 2014, before in Colorado planting greens became legal and affordable enough to breed Snarks again. I assumed then that we would see more of these beasts in the future.
        Since I predicted that in 2014, more and more biotopes for Snarks had been created, not only in Colorado. The top of the tide seems to have been approached in 2017, when the White House too became a habitat especially for those Snarks who were able to quickly adapt to such a challenging environment: In order to survive there, Snarks now are born as Boojums right away.

Luckily, there still are regions where most Snarks just are Snarks (🎶🎶🎶):

    “Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
        The five unmistakable marks
    By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
        The warranted genuine Snarks.

    Let us take them in order.

  1.     “The first is the taste,
            Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
        Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
            With a flavour of Will-o’-the-wisp.
  2.     “Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
            That it carries too far, when I say
        That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
            And dines on the following day.
  3.     “The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
            Should you happen to venture on one,
        It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
            And it always looks grave at a pun.
  4.     “The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
            Which it constantly carries about,
        And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes –
            A sentiment open to doubt.
  5.     “The fifth is ambition.

          It next will be right
              To describe each particular batch:
      those that have feathers, and bite,
      And those that have whiskers, and scratch.

          “For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
              Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
          Some are Boojums –” The Bellman broke of in alarm,
              For the Baker had fainted away.

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

          “ ‘You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
              You may hunt it with forks and hope;
          You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
              You may charm it with smiles and soap –’ ”

          (“That’s exactly the method,” the Bellman bold
              In a hasty parenthesis cried,
          “That’s exactly the way I have always been told
              That the capture of Snarks should be tried!”)

      Among the forks mentioned above (used to hunt the Snark and carried by this landing crew of a naval expedition) is a tuning fork (held by the Banker). Charles Darwin used a tuning-fork to let spiders dance, and for dissection (don’t tell the spiders) he used lace-needles together with his microscope (like the one carried by the beaver).

      2017-09-18, edited 2020-10-12

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

Page 83


Do you think that this “baker” on page 83 really proves that the book is a first edition and that it should be “butcher”? You find the answer in any contemporary Snark edition.

More Examples for advertising the first edition of “The Hunting of the Snark”, offered for prices between €200 and €1000:

First edition, first printing, with “Baker” for “Banker” on page 83.

First issue with “baker” not “butcher” on page 83. It is unknown how many copies were printed this way.

This is about line 560 on page 83, the last page of Lewis Carroll’s tragicomedy. A “Baker” in that line is no proof that the book is a rare first Snark edition. All copies are printed this way, because that is how it should be. In Henry Holiday’s illustration on page 82 you see the head and a hand of the Baker, not the Banker (and not the Butcher either). Remember, the Banker had to be left behind in the previous chapter, so he cannot show up in the final chapter.

Thus, there is nothing special about “Where the Baker had met with the Snark.” This alleged error is a myth. Those rare book traders just didn’d (and still don’t) check the facts.

Then there is the JubJub. If you read somewhere that the bird never will look at a “bride”, then better check line 386 on page 55 in the original Snark edition. It’s “bribe”. You can find “It will never look at a bride” in the Internet many times. But that’s wrong.


Discussion: Twitter 2 | Twitter 1 | Facebook (rare books) | Facebook (The hunting of the Snark)

2018-04-02, update 2019-07-02


Removed (not by me) from Wikipedia

Rare book sellers often claim, that the first edition of ”The Hunting of the Snark” can be identified by the word “Baker” instead of “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line on page 83. However, “Where the Baker had met with the Snarkis correct. “Butcher” or “Banker” in the 560th line is wrong. Also “bribe” in the 386th line on page 55 is correct, even though in the Internet the erratic “It never will look at a bride” can be found.

(The hyperlinks in this text where not part of the WP text.)


Schilb Antiquarian (Columbia, MO, U.S.A.) via, 2020-02-13

[…] This rare first edition is complete with the nine illustrations by Henry Holiday and features the expected first edition points (noted below). Item number: #9505 Price: $750 CARROLL, Lewis The hunting of the snark: an agony in eight fits London: MacMillan, 1876. First edition Details: Collation: Complete with all pages xi, [3], 83, [3] 9 illustrations by Henry Holiday Edition points: p.83 baker instead of butcher rear board I Was a Boojum […]

2019-11-26, updated 2020-09-11

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). We arrived there 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

10 Assumptions About The Hunting of the Snark

Annotations to “10 Interesting Facts About The Hunting of the Snark (Rose Theatre, 2017-09-21)

  1. One out of several (but perhaps less important) reasons to write the Snark might have been that Carroll wrote his tragicomedy The Hunting of the Snark to bring much needed escape and light while nursing his seriously ill godson and cousin Charlie Wilcox who eventually died from tuberculosis.
  2. Part of the Snark ballad is Carroll’s story that he was walking on a hillside near Guildford, alone, one bright summer day (1874-07-18 , allegedly not so bright in reality), when suddenly there came into his head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” With more that 500 lines the book was published in 1876. He ended up with more chapters (fits) than initially planned. This of course also affected the illustrator Henry Holiday and the engraver Joseph Swain. The sequence of making the illustrations is described in the centennial edition of The Hunting of the Snark published by William Kaufmann in 1981.
  3. Carroll left the meaning of the Snark deliberately vague refusing to answer questions about its meaning. He stated that whatever good meanings are in the book, he was glad to accept an of them as the meaning of the book. The best that in his viev he had seen was by a lady (she published it in a letter to a newspaper), that the whole book is an allegory on the pursuit of happiness.
  4. The poem was published on April 1st 1876 (the date chosen being April Fools Day and before Easter, which was a good time to sell the book). The first print was 10,000 copies and the book has rarely if ever been out of print since.
  5. Unlike Carroll’s many other fantastical creatures, we never see the Snark and its appearance remains a mystery. His lifelong friend, the famous illustrator Henry Holiday proposed something which to Carroll was a “delightful monster“. But Carroll nevertheless refused to allow his lifelong friend to include his drawing of a Boojum turned Snark in the original edition. The Snark only was allowed to applear in the Barrister’s dream.
  6. Snarks are harmless. You even may fetch a Snark home, but keep the greens ready.
    WARNING: If a Snark turns into a Boojum and you get too close to one, you will “softly and suddenly vanish away.”
  7. The Bellman is an expert on Snarks and knows how to describe Snarks.
  8. The Jubjub appeared in Carroll’s Jabberwocky. Some think that the Jubjub might be a pun on the word jug-jug, an English word expressing one of the notes of a nightingale. I believe (and may be wrong with that) that the noisy beast has something to do with jubjubbing chronometers
  9. Acording to the Rose Theatre, Snark clubs dedicated to ‘the glorification of the Snark and its creator’ still flourish and meet to recite the poem. The band of declared Snarkists included W.H. Auden, Willa Cather, John Galsworthy, A.P. Herbert, Elspeth Huxley and C.S. Lewis.
  10. Some believe that the Baker might be a self-deprecating self-portrait in which Carroll pokes fun at his well-known forgetfulness. I don’t think so. The Baker has 42 boxes of luggage. I think he forgot them like Thomas Cranmer forgot his Forty-Two articles for a while. Incidentally, Carroll was 42 years old when he wrote Snark.

Fact Checks

  • Ambiguous: The “Boots” and “the maker of Bonnets and Hoods” in The Hunting of the Snark are two different persons.
  • Unproven: The assumption that Carroll was on drugs when he wrote the Alice books.
  • Sometimes wrong: Carroll quotes. Check them.
  • Likely wrong: The assumption that the “Ocean Chart” (the Bellman’s map) in The Hunting of the Snark was made by Henry Holiday.
  • Wrong: The assumption that C.L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) invented the word “Snark”.
  • Wrong: The claim by rare book sellers that only the first issue of The Hunting of the Snark has “Baker” on page 83.
  • Wrong: The assumption that there is photographic evidence that Alice Liddell as a child kissed C.L. Dodgson.
  • Wrong ( The story that C.L. Dodgson sent an admiring Queen Victoria a copy of An Elementary Treatise on Determinants.


Not Lewis Carroll

2019-07-12, updated: 2020-06-08


[…] When [The Hunting of the Snark] was published in 1876 it was illustrated by Henry Holiday who, though a very talented artist, failed to capture the surreal nature of Carroll’s poem. The illustrations for this edition however, provided by Gormenghast author Mervyn Peake, are the perfect accompaniment. Peake’s drawings have an uneasy bubbling quality, blending with the silly and macabre feel of the words […]

Nothing against Mervyn Peake’s illustrations, but already this illustration (even without the yellow lines and dots which I added) might contain more elements of “surreal nature” than what you find in Mervyn Peake’s illustrations. I like those playful weeds (or animals?) in the lower left corner of Holiday’s illustration.

That’s not the only thing which that corner has to offer.

Another popular path (not) to understand The Hunting of the Snark has been stated more than three times: Some call Carroll’s poem “nonsense”. It isn’t.

Anyway, I don’t think that Holiday failed to convey to us graphically what Carroll meant. The price for his achievement perhaps was that Holiday’s illustrations are less eye pleasing than illustrations like Peake’s.

Holiday’s illustrations are as grotesque as Carroll’s poem.

2018-02-16, updated: 2020-02-01

Eternal Disconnect

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.

Article 42 on eternal damnation in Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles (1552)


No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm, and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one.

Rule 42, with the second part of the sentence having been “completed” by the Bellman in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876)


Pope Francis said eternal damnation is not a torture chamber but distance from God.

Vatican Radio, 2016-11-25

If something like eternal damnation (Article 42) would exist, then that also would be an eternal disconnect (Rule 42) between the Abrahamic god and those who adhere to that god.

What are those Forty-Two Articles?

The Forty-Two Articles were intended to summarise Anglican doctrine, as it now existed under the reign of Edward VI, who favoured a Protestant faith. Largely the work of Thomas Cranmer, they were to be short formularies that would demonstrate the faith revealed in Scripture and the existing Catholic creeds. Completed in 1552, they were issued by Royal Mandate on 19 June 1553. The articles were claimed to have received the authority of a Convocation, although this is doubtful. With the coronation of Mary I and the reunion of the Church of England with the Catholic Church, the Articles were never enforced. However, after Mary’s death, they became the basis of the Thirty-nine Articles. In 1563, Convocation met under Archbishop Parker to revise the articles. Convocation passed only 39 of the 42, and Elizabeth reduced the number to 38 by throwing out Article XXIX to avoid offending her subjects with Catholic leanings. In 1571, the Article XXIX, despite the opposition of Bishop Edmund Gheast, was inserted, to the effect that the wicked do not eat the Body of Christ. This was done following the queen’s excommunication by the Pope Pius V in 1570. That act destroyed any hope of reconciliation with Rome and it was no longer necessary to fear that Article XXIX would offend Catholic sensibilities. The Articles, increased to Thirty-nine, were ratified by the Queen, and the bishops and clergy were required to assent.

Source: Wikipedia, 2018-03-15

I assume, that Carroll’s “forty-two” serves as a reference to Thomas Cranmer’s Forty-Two Articles. And Rev. Karen Gardiner suggested in The Carrollian (July 2018, № 31, p.25~41), that this is a reference mainly to Article 42 (about eternal damnation) in the Forty-Two Articles.

As far as I understand, eternal damnation was a controversial issue in the era of the Oxford Movement, and the Rev. C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) objected to the belief in eternal punishment in 1897, but his article on Eternal Punishment was not published during his lifetime. In the article, one of Dodgson’s points is that “αἰών” should be translated as “of indefinite duration”, not as “eternal”. (See p. 52 in Robert D. Sutherland’s Language and Lewis Carroll, 1970.) The controversy on eternal punishment seems not to have ended yet .

Today, “42” mostly is known as an answer to an unknown question. That answer had been revealed in a popular travel guide and invented by Douglas Adams as an answer to that unknown question. Of course neither Lewis Carroll nor Douglas Adams would have provided us with spoilers which could help us to understand their “42”. Holding your readers responsible for their interpretations is much more fun to writers like Adams and Carroll. Therefore Adams told us that the “42” just popped up in his mind out of the air when he enjoyed the view of his garden. And Carroll told us that the last line “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see!” in The Hunting of the Snark popped up in his mind during a walk near Guilford (incidentally the birthplace of Ford Prefect, and then again not his real birthplace).

Lewis Carroll’s Snark and Douglas Adams’ Guide (the BBC radio series) have more in common than just having fits instead of chapters. But among both authors, it probably was only the Reverend Dodgson to whom “42” had a special relevance in the history of the church, that vessel which had been snarked so many times.



2017-12-25, updated: 2020-03-07

Beyond Obscure

...jum!I assume that in The Hunting of the Snark Lewis Carroll and Henry Holiday take references to Thomas Cranmer and his Forty-Two articles. I discussed that with an anglican priest and church historian. As this blog isn’t my echo chamber, I’ll show you his objections to what I think.

me: I think, that the “Baker’s” 42 boxes may be a reference to Thomas Cranmer’s 42 Articles. And I learned that Dodgson/Carroll had issues with the 39 Articles and therefore didn’t take ordination. Could you give me any hints where Dodgson/Carroll may have had issues with the 39 Articles? And as for the 42 Articles, I think, that Carroll may have rejected #42 (“All men shall not be saved at the length…”).

him: Why go for the 42 Articles, hardly in force for a month in 1553, when if Dodgson was denying any doctrinal statement, it would be the 39 Articles which had been in place since 1563? The articles of the 42 omitted in 1563 did include the article about universal salvation, but also matters about soul-sleep and millenarianism. As an allegorical reference, it seems beyond obscure.

me: Carroll did not accept ( the last Article in the Forty-Two Articles. The Article 42 didn’t make it into the 39 Articles, but there is a publication which shows that this still was a controversial issue which Carroll had to deal with.

him: The argument makes no logical sense at all.

Discussion: Twitter | Facebook

A Snark Excerpt as Graph

The image visualizes hypergraph properties of a part (lines 547 to 556) of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. (I fixed the transposition error “Page 18” in the original image. In the 1st 1876 Snark edition it’s page 81.)

Image source:
Ronald Haentjens Dekker and David J. Birnbaum.
“It’s more than just overlap: Text As Graph.”
Presented at Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017,
Washington, DC, August 1 – 4, 2017.
In Proceedings of Balisage: The Markup Conference 2017.
Balisage Series on Markup Technologies, vol. 19 (2017).

A remark which I received from David J. Birnbaum: Gijs Brouwer implemented the visualization, and Astrid Kulsdom transcribed the information based on the data model inside the application. Gijs’s animated version of the image is available at

Page 81 visualization | Print/Mobile | EPUB | Twitter | Facebook

9.5±0.5 Snark Hunters

There may be no tenth member in Henry Holiday’s illustrations to Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark. I think that the Snark hunting party consists of nine members only. Let us take them in order of their introduction:

  1. The Bellman, their captain.
  2. The Boots, a maker of Bonnets and Hoods
  3. The Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes, but repeatedly complained about the Beaver’s evil lace-making.
  4. The Broker, to value their goods.
  5. The Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense, might perhaps have won more than his share. From John Tufail I learned that in Henry Holiday’s illustration the Billiard-marker is preparing a cheat.
  6. The Banker, engaged at enormous expense, had the whole of their cash in his care.
  7. The Beaver, that paced on the deck or would sit making lace in the bow and had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck, though none of the sailors knew how.
  8. The Baker, also addressed by “Fry me!”, “Fritter my wig!”, “Candle-ends” as well as “Toasted-cheese”, and known for joking with hyenas and walking paw-in-paw with a bear.
  9. The Butcher, who only could kill Beavers, but later became best friend with the lace-making animal.

More about the cast:
9 or 10 hunters?
Care and Hope
The Snark

2017-11-06, completely rewritten: 2018-11-07

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 and though that I had found the answer. 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. There is not just one single “real story” behind Carroll’s Snark poem.

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.


Flat Earth

Image source:

One of my articles in this blog has the title What can Science reveal? This is the quest of the Snark (quoting Philo M. Buck, 1942). I think, that the question what science can reveal is only one among several quests of the Snark. Another quest might be, how science reveals the world and how science can be threatened. Here, flat earth theory is a good example. That theory does not only aim at reverting scientific findings, but also at damaging science itself. I don’t know whether Dodgson/Carroll took any interest in that theory and the related debates, but its history helps me to improve my understanding of popular science debates and businesses in the Victorian society at around the time when Lewis Carrol wrote The Hunting of the Snark.

This week in the New Yorker, Alan Burdick wrote an article about Looking for Life on a Flat Earth, What a burgeoning movement says about science, solace, and how a theory becomes truth (2018-05-30). Very regrettably, Burdick failed to mention Christine Garwood‘s book Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea (2008). That shouldn’t happen in a magazine like the New Yorker. Didn’t Burdick read that excellent book before he wrote his article?

Garwood shows why and how science can be threatened and is being threatened. This includes John Hampden‘s (1819-1891) discrediting of journalists 1870 (p. 76), who probably had quite similar reasons for media bashing as Donald Trump had and openly described them in February 2016. If you want to make a living as influencer, you need to control the presentation of knowledge. To understand that is as important today as it was in the 19th century. It is amazing how similar the 21st century anti-scientific populism is to what happened since “Parallax” started his flat earth business in the Victorian Britain. And he meant business.