I failed to note Lewis Carroll's birthday in my blog yesterday, but Huffington Post noted the day in their typical, sort of pathetically tacky fashion. They chose to post a series of quotes from Carroll's works and letters and I wasn't long looking through them before I realised Huffington Post had chosen terrible quotes. Mostly famous lines that aren't particularly interesting out of context like, "What is the use of a book without pictures or conversations?" Or lines that seem to have completely different meanings out of context, like, "Everyone's got a moral, if you can only find it." I thought to myself, it's ironic Huffington Post has chosen Lewis Carroll's birthday to give the impression that he's very, very dead.
Most of the comments were predictably from people making snide intimations that Lewis Carroll's paedophilia is an established fact. Which, even if it were, goes to show the abilities of the average insecure internet user's confidence in his ability to judge art on its own merits. But I loved this comment;
My favorite: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?” -- from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
Which is of course a line from the 1951 film and is not found in the books. Either this individual is content in his or her ignorance or has an extremely dry wit--either way it made me laugh.
Anyway, to show that the works of Lewis Carroll are very much alive, here are some quotes that are actually interesting outside the context of the book;
'O Mouse, do you know the way out of this pool? I am very tired of swimming about here, O Mouse!' (Alice thought this must be the right way of speaking to a mouse: she had never done such a thing before, but she remembered having seen in her brother's Latin Grammar, 'A mouse—of a mouse—to a mouse—a mouse—O mouse!')
. . .
Alice remained looking thoughtfully at the mushroom for a minute, trying to make out which were the two sides of it; and as it was perfectly round, she found this a very difficult question.
. . .
'I HAVE tasted eggs, certainly,' said Alice, who was a very truthful child; 'but little girls eat eggs quite as much as serpents do, you know.'
. . .
. . . suddenly a footman in livery came running out of the wood—(she considered him to be a footman because he was in livery: otherwise, judging by his face only, she would have called him a fish)
. . .
'Very true,' said the Duchess: 'flamingoes and mustard both bite. And the moral of that is—"Birds of a feather flock together."'
. . .
'How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they'd give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn't good to drink . . ."
. . .
'When you say "hill,"' the Queen interrupted, 'I could show you hills, in comparison with which you'd call that a valley.'
'No, I shouldn't,' said Alice, surprised into contradicting her at last: 'a hill CAN'T be a valley, you know. That would be nonsense—'
The Red Queen shook her head, 'You may call it "nonsense" if you like,' she said, 'but I'VE heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!'
. . .
Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)