The Hunting of the Snark

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The Hunting of the Snark
Cover of first edition
AuthorLewis Carroll
IllustratorHenry Holiday
Cover artistHenry Holiday
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreNonsense poetry
Publication date
29 March 1876
TextThe Hunting of the Snark at Wikisource

The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits) is a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll, the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

The poem was written from 1874 to 1876. The setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words are taken from Carroll's earlier poem Jabberwocky in his children's novel Through the Looking-Glass (1871). The eight words are: bandersnatch, beamish, frumious, galumphing, jubjub, mimsiest (which previously appeared as mimsy in "Jabberwocky"), outgrabe and uffish.[1]

The first two stanzas contain one of the most famous quotations in nonsense poetry:

"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 Bellman refers the mediaeval use of a town crier or bellman. He would ring his bell, and shout Oyez, Oyez, Oyez! at set places in a town, and read out proclamations of legal decisions made by courts or the town council. This was necessary because most people were illiterate.

Another curiosity of the poem is that the crew of ten all have occupations beginning with the letter "B".

What I tell you three times is true: The idea of repetition as a grounds for truth is sometimes called the Bellman's theory. That, of course, is humour. All the same, repetition is a recurring trope in many kinds of discussion and argument.

The Hunting of the Snark has been many times adapted for the theatre, and many times referred to in fiction.

References[change | change source]

  1. Carroll, Lewis [1876] 2006. The Annotated Hunting of the Snark. Edited with notes by Martin Gardner, illustrations by Henry Holiday and others, introduction by Adam Gopnik. "Definitive edition", W.W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-06242-2

Other websites[change | change source]

Works related to The Hunting of the Snark at Wikisource