Pulled from the Pages: The Hunting of the Snark

Our cultural climate is one in which we can’t seem to agree on anything, but one thing we probably can agree on is that we could surely use a laugh. And though the topic of humour is hugely subjective, it’s a safe bet that we can all find a chuckle or two in the absurd silliness to be found in the writings of Lewis Carroll.

Here at the Porcupine’s Quill, we pretty much just defer to George A. Walker to all things Carroll related. After all, he produced some brilliant volumes of Carroll’s works through his Cheshire Cat Press, as well as a couple handsome books for the Porcupine’s Quill. Take a look at our edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, illustrated with whimsical wood engravings, and A Is for Alice, a slim book that collects twenty-six carefully chosen images from the Alice books.

So of course when George showed us his version of The Hunting of the Snark, another Carroll favourite, we were inclined to get excited. Then we saw the book and did get excited.

The Hunting of the Snark

The thing is, it’s actually brilliant.

George has taken the whimsical nonsense poetry that Carroll wrote so beautifully, and, with his unmatched artist’s eye, has revealed a few too-good-to-be-missed modern parallels in this classic tale. Somehow, children’s poetry has become an incredibly a propos political satire—and you only have to read it to agree!

If you’re a fan of Lewis Carroll’s works—or if you’d just like to chuckle over a satire of contemporary American politics, read on for an exclusive excerpt. You’ll be sure to catch some signature moves by the politicians of our neighbours to the south. And for fun, see if you can guess the real-life counterparts to some of the characters introduced below.

* * *

From “Fit the First: The Landing”

‘Just the place for a Snark!’ the Bellman cried,
     As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
     By a finger entwined in his hair.

‘Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
     That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
     What I tell you three times is true.’

The crew was complete: it included a Boots—
     A maker of Bonnets and Hoods—
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes—
     And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-marker, whose skill was immense,
     Might perhaps have won more than his share—
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
     Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a 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.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
     He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
     And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty-two boxes, all carefully packed,
     With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
     They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
     He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots—but the worst of it was,
     He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to ‘Hi!’ or to any loud cry,
     Such as ‘Fry me!’ or ‘Fritter my wig!’
To ‘What-you-may-call-um!’ or ‘What-was-his-name!’
     But especially ‘Thing-um-a-jig!’

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
     He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him ‘Candle-ends,’
     And his enemies ‘Toasted-cheese.’

Snark Portrait--Trump as Bellman

[Continued in The Hunting of the Snark]

* * *

PortraitWhat did you think of this opening of The Hunting of the Snark? Did you catch a few parallels to modern life amid all that silliness? If you’d like to learn more about this brilliant book, check out the title information page on our website. If you’re ready to buy, the ebook is available now, and you can look for the printed edition to hit stores soon!


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.