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The Hunting of the Snarkby Lewis Carroll
Synopses & Reviews
The Hunting of the Snark was first published in 1876, eleven years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and four years after Through the Looking-Glass. It is a masterpiece of nonsense and is connected to Through the Looking-Glass by its use of vocabulary from the poem Jabberwocky. The Hunting of the Snark is a strangely dark poem, and some critics believe that its themes-insanity and death-are rather too adult in nature for children's literature. We know, nonetheless, that Lewis Carroll intended the poem to be enjoyed by children: he dedicated the book in acrostic verse to his young friend Gertrude Chataway, and signed some 80 presentation copies to other young readers. Many of those inscriptions were in the form of an acrostic based upon the name of the child to whom the book was presented. Part of the pleasure of reading this book is in the inevitable musing about what it means. Its author, often asked to explain his work, invariably replies that he does not know. It is therefore open to readers of the poem to decide the question for themselves...
The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll’s classic masterpiece of nonsense verse, takes the reader on a wonderfully witty and inventive hunt for the ever-elusive Snark. The tantalizing mysteries of the poem are here perfectly matched in these brilliant new illustrations by artist Mahendra Singh, who has created a visual treasure hunt, full of riddles, puns, and allusions.
When asked what his poem meant, Carroll would always reply that he did not know. But, on one occasion, he did write to friends that perhaps “…the whole book is an allegory on the search for happiness.”
“To seek it with thimbles, to seek it with care;
To pursue it with forks and hope,
To threaten its life with a railway-share;
To charm it with smiles and soap!”
About the Author
Oxford University mathematics professor Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832 – 1898), under his pen name Lewis Carroll, created some of the most brilliant, original and uniquely inventive literature in the English language. He is most famous for three magical works: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass, and the witty, whimsical and ever-elusive The Hunting of the Snark.
When pressed to explain the meaning of The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll invariably replied that he did not know. “I’m very much afraid I didn’t mean anything but nonsense!” he wrote in a letter to friends, “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 meant. So, whatever good meanings are in the book, I’m very glad to accept as the meaning of the book. The best I’ve seen is…that the whole book is an allegory on the search for happiness. I think that fits beautifully in many ways.”
About the Artist
Mahendra Singh is an illustrator and longstanding Lewis Carroll aficionado. He is a member of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America and an editor for their journal, the Knight Letter. For Singh, creating the illustrations for The Hunting of the Snark "has been a labor of love—fitting Lewis Carroll into a proto-Surrealist straitjacket with matching Dada cufflinks."
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