This is no Cigar

Martin Gardner wrote in his Annotated Snark (1962, MG064) about Henry Holiday’s almost surreal illustration to the final Snark chapter:

Thousands of readers must have glanced at this drawing without noticing (though they may have shivered with subliminal perception) the huge, almost transparent head of the Baker, abject terror on his features, as a gigantic beak (or is it a claw?) seizes his wrist and drags him into ultimate darkness.

The rocks in the foreground, which resemble the back of a prostrate nude figure, add another eerie touch to the scene.

As for the gigantic beak or claw (MG064), there is a blog entry dedicated to that.

I think, that Henry Holiday’s original illustration (without the yellow lines and dots) to the last chapter of The Hunting of the Snark is about cruelty, abuse and, in the end, death: The burning of Thomas Cranmer.

With regard to the simulacrum in the lower left part of the illustration (and perhaps also to line #3 and #4 in the poem, if “his hair” is the Bellman‘s hair), also sexual violence (e.g. fagging) at Rugby School might have been addressed. C.L. Dodgson’s diary entry after a visit to Radley College, 1857-03-18:

Each little boy has his own wooden cubicle to sleep in at night, a snug little bedroom where he is free from interruption and annoyance, this, to little boys, must be a great addition to their happiness, as being a counterbalance to any bullying they may suffer during the day. From my own experience of school life at Rugby, I can say that if I could have been as secure from annoyance at night, the hardships of the daily life would have been mere trifles.

(Source: C. L. Dodgson, quoted in Insights into Human Cruelty and Abuse by Colleen Swan, 2014-03-04, updated on 2016-10-17)
See also: Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, The Story of Alice, 2015, Chapter 3, p.56.

Archibald Campbell Tait, then the Archbishop of Canterbury, was the headmaster of Rugby School when the young Dodgson was a pupil there. In my view it is possible that Henry Holiday inserted a pictorial reference to the bishop in one of his illustrations. Initially, Holiday even may have considered to give the bishop’s face to the Bellman.

The impression that both Carroll and Holiday knew precisely what they were doing when designing these landscapes is given greater credence when one compares this illustration [to fit 5] with the illustration to the final act of the poem, ‘The Vanishing’. Here, prominent in the right foreground of the illustration is an extremely clear torso-like simulacrum that reinforces those in the earlier illustration.

(Source: p. 29 in John Tufail, The Illuminated Snark, An enquiry into the relationship between text and illustration in ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ (PDF), 2004.)
My first page was about that simulacrum in the lower left part of the illustration.

After a happy period at Richmond School, Carroll was sent to Rugby, Warwickshire until 1849. Academic success came easily and helped to compensate for the discomforts and bullying of public school: [Head master Thomas] Arnold’s belief in liberty allowed to all and the power exercised by senior boys over juniors could have unpleasant consequences and it seems very likely that the attractive young boy was subject to homosexual abuse. Carroll disliked his senior school intensely and survived by retreating into a private world of his own imagination.

(Source: p. 200 in Louise Schweitzer, Lewis Carroll and “The Hunting of the Snark”, p. 197-257 in One Wild Flower, Ph.D. thesis, 2012 (Goodreads))

Fagging was sometimes associated with sexual abuse by older boys.

(Source: Wikipedia, based on quoting Al Alvarez’ When I was at school …, The Guardian, 2005-10-12, with a reference to John Peel’s autobiography: “We asked seven prominent former public schoolboys to spill their dormitory secrets”.)

Derek Malcolm, Film critic: «That sort of thing was very widespread. Not particularly at Eton, but at the schools that prepared you for it. […] At Eton, if you were a fag master you chose the prettiest fag from among the lower boys. You just liked to have a pretty fag – I suppose it was a substitute for girls.»

(Source: When I was at school …, The Guardian, 2005-10-12))

001    “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
002        As he landed his crew with care;
003    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
004        By a finger entwined in his hair.

(Source: Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark)

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2017-12-17, update: 2023-05-04

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