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The Hunting of the Snark.

The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits)
is typically categorized as a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Written from 1874 to 1876, the poem borrows the setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words from Carroll's earlier poem "Jabberwocky" in his children's novel Through the Looking Glass (1871). The plot follows a crew of ten trying to hunt the Snark, an animal which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum; the only one of the crew to find the Snark quickly vanishes, leading the narrator to explain that it was a Boojum after all. Henry Holiday illustrated the poem, and the poem is dedicated to Gertrude Chataway, whom Carroll met as a young girl at the English seaside town Sandown in the Isle of Wight in 1875.

The Hunting of the Snark was published by Macmillan in late March 1876 to mixed reviews from reviewers who found it strange. The first printing of The Hunting of the Snark consisted of 10,000 copies, with two reprintings by the conclusion of the year; in total, the poem was reprinted seventeen times between 1876 to 1908. Carroll often denied knowing the meaning behind the poem; however, in an 1896 reply to one letter, he agreed with one interpretation of the poem as an allegory for the search for happiness. Scholars have found various meanings in the poem, among them existential angst, an allegory for tuberculosis, and a mockery of the Tichbourne case. The Hunting of the Snark has been alluded to in various works and has been adapted for musicals, opera, plays, and music.

Summary

After crossing the sea guided by the Bellman's map of the Ocean—a blank sheet of paper—the hunting party arrive in a strange land, and the Bellman informs them of the five signs of a Snark: its "meagre and hollow, but crisp" taste; a habit of rising late and taking breakfast during five o'clock tea; "its slowness in taking a jest"; a "fondness for bathing-machines"; and its ambition. The Bellman warns them that some Snarks are highly dangerous Boojums, causing the Baker to faint. Once revived, the Baker recalls that his uncle warned him that if the Snark turns out to be a Boojum, the hunter will "softly and suddenly vanish away, and never be met with again." The Baker confesses that the notion of this sudden vanishment brings him much distress.

With this in mind, they split up to hunt the Snark: "They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care; / They pursued it with forks and hope; / They threatened its life with a railway-share; / They charmed it with smiles and soap."Along the way, the Butcher and Beaver—previously mutually wary, as the Butcher can only kill beavers—become fast friends, after the Butcher teaches it more in ten minutes than it could learn from books in seventy years. The Barrister, meanwhile, dreams of the court trial of a pig accused of deserting its sty, whom the Snark is defending. The Snark, however, finds the pig guilty and sentences it to transportation and a fine of forty pound. His dream concludes with the jailer informing the court that the pig has actually been dead for years, to the judge's disgust.

During the hunt, the Banker finds himself attacked by a bandersnatch, and loses his sanity after trying to bribe the creature. At the conclusion of the poem, the Baker calls out that he has found a snark, but when the others arrive, he has mysteriously disappeared, leading the narrator to explain: "For the Snark was a Boojum, you see."

Characters

  • Bellman
  • Bonnet Maker
  • Barrister
  • Broker
  • Billiard-Marker
  • Banker
  • Butcher
  • Baker
  • Beaver

Sources

Related Topics
Source Texts Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Through the Looking-Glass - The Nursery "Alice" - The Hunting of the Snark
Related Topics Wonderland - Looking-Glass Land - Underland - Alice - Alice Liddell - The Annotated Alice - Oraculum
Galleries Fan Art
Disney books Alice In Wonderland: Book for Colors - Alice in Wonderland: It's About Time! - Alice in Wonderland (A Big Golden Book) - Alice in Wonderland (Classic Storybook) - Alice in Wonderland (Disney Read-Along) - Alice in Wonderland (Disney's Wonderful World of Reading) - Alice in Wonderland (Little Golden Book) - Alice's Tea Party - Alice's Wonderland Adventure - Alice Favorites - Alice in the White Rabbit's House - Alice in Wonderland Finds the Garden of Live Flowers - Alice in Wonderland Meets the White Rabbit - Alice in Wonderland Paper Doll - Alice in Wonderland Paper Dolls - Alice Meets the White Rabbit - Disney Classics Little Golden Book Library - Down the Rabbit Hole - Grin and Play - Mad Hatter's Tea Party - Wonderland (comic)
Other Novels Alice in Deadland - Alice in Quantumland: An Allegory of Quantum Physics - Alice in Zombieland - Otherland - Splintered
Content with references to Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland syndrome - Are You Alice? - C is for Curiouser and Curiouser - Coraline - Resident Evil - Resident Evil: Extinction - Rule of Rose - Silent Hill (franchise) - Smashing Time - Spirited Away - Sucker Punch - The Big Lebowski - The Last Mimzy - The Matrix - Triangle

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