The Annotated Snark: The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Great Nonsense Epic The Hunting of the Snark

By Lewis Carroll; Henry Holiday | Go to book overview

THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK
An Agony, in Eight Fits
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3
Agony is here used in the old sense of a struggle that involves great anguish, bodily pain, or death. Carroll also may have had in mind the "woeful agony" that periodically seizes Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, forcing him to tell to strangers his "ghastly tale."

Fit has the double meaning of a convulsion and a canto. The Oxford English Dictionary quotes Samuel Johnson: "A long ballad in many fits," and Lord Byron: "one fytte of Harold's pilgrimage." Phyllis Greenacre, in her psychoanalytical study of Carroll ( Swift and Carroll, 1955) thinks there is some connection between the fact that Carroll's poem has eight fits and Carroll had eight younger siblings!

Carroll had once before punned on the word "fit." In the first Alice book, during the trial of the Knave of Hearts, the King quotes the poetic line, "before she had this fit." "You never had fits, my dear, I think?" he asks his wife. When she replies "Never!" the King says, "Then the words don't fit you." This produces dead silence in the courtroom.

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The Annotated Snark: The Full Text of Lewis Carroll's Great Nonsense Epic The Hunting of the Snark
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 4
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 11
  • The Hunting of the Snark 27
  • Preface 33
  • The Hunting of the Snark - An Agony, in Eight Fits 35
  • Fit the First: - The Landing 37
  • Fit the Second: - The Bellman's Speech 47
  • Fit the Third: - The Baker's Tale 54
  • Fit the Fourth: - The Hunting 59
  • Fit the Fifth: - The Beaver's Lesson 65
  • Fit the Sixth: - The Barrister's Dream 75
  • Fit the Seventh: - The Banker's Fate 81
  • Fit the Eighth: - The Vanishing 85
  • Bibliography 91
  • Appendix 96
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