27 January 2017

185


I
 am reminded that today is Lewis Carroll’s birthday. Rex Stout, John Lennon, Alexander Woollcott, James Thurber, and Martin Gardner are numbered among his admirers. Mark Twain once met him, describing him as the shyest adult male he had ever met except Joel Chandler Harris, the author of the Uncle Remus stories.
A photographer, inventor, mathematician, satirist, clergyman, and amateur philosopher, Lewis Carroll is best remembered as the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Through the Looking-Glass. The Hunting of the Snark (An agony in eight fits) is a favorite of mine. He is perhaps not so well remembered as the author of Sylvie and Bruno and Phantasmagoria, but I read all of them in my childhood—indeed, reread them often enough that lines from them are engraved in my memory to this day: “Down, down down—would the fall never come to an end?” “Navigation is always a difficult art, though with only one ship and one bell….” “He thought he saw an argument That proved he was the pope.” “[G]hosts have every good a right In every way to fear the light As men to fear the dark.” “And the moral of that is, the more there is of mine the less there is of yours.” “What may I do? At length I cried Tired of the painful task. The fairy quietly replied And said ‘You must not ask.’”
Lewis Carroll turned 185 today.

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