Featured Poem
September 28 - October 25, 1998
Many people, I am sure, consider Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as a story for small children. I have read it when I was young - both the first book and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass; I have also had the chance to read them both once more, a short while ago, and I must say that it made a totally different impression upon me! Maybe what one famous writer said is true, after all: "Alice's Adventures is not a book for children - it is a book where we become children."

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
        The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome fe he sought -
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
        And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffush thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
        And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
        He went galumphing back.

'And hast though slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
        He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the mimsy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe.

Lewis Carrol (1832 - 1898)
From Through the Looking-Glass

Jabberwock: in 1887 Dodgson invented a meaning for this word for a Girls' Latin School at Boston, U.S.A., whose editor wrote to ask his permission to use it as the name for a magazine. He found that 'the Anglo-Saxon word "wocer" or "wocor" signifies "offspring" or "fruit". Taking "jabber" in its ordinary acceptation of "excited and voluble discussion", this would give the meaning of "the result of much excited discussion"' (Collingwood, p. 274). But, like the answer to the Hatter's riddle, this was only an afterthought. (Taken from the Explanatory Notes to the World's Classics Oxford University Press edition.)
Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of the Reverend Charles Ltwidge Dodgson, born 27 January 1832 at Daresbury, Cheshire, being the third child and eldest son of the Reverend Charles Dodgson. He was educated at Richmond School, Yorkshire, and Rugby (School House). In 1851 he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, took a First Class in Mathematical Finals in 1854, and was a Senior Student and resident there for the rest of his life, holding the post of Mathematical Lecturer, 1855-81. He was ordained deacon in 1861, but did not proceed to priest's orders, owing to the incurable stammer which, he felt, debarred him from parochial duties. With children he lost his stammer and he made friends with a great number of little girls throughout his life, the most famous being Lorina, Alice, and Edith, the daughters of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, for whom he made up several stories which became Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1872). He followed this with the nonsense epic The Hunting of the Snark (1876); but his inspiration was fading in the two volumes of Sylvie and Bruno (1889, 1893). He was also a pioneer in photography and has been hailed as the greatest photographer of children in the Victorian period. He died at Guildford on 14 January 1898, and was buried there. (Taken from the World's Classics Oxford University Press edition.)


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