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


Fit the Fifth
THE BEAVER'S LESSON

THEY sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
They charmed it with smiles and soap.39

____________________
39
This is the third appearance of this stanza but the first to describe the actual carrying out of the Snark-hunting method advised by the Baker's uncle. (For translations of the stanza into French, Latin, and Italian, see the annotated bibliography.) The fact that essentially the same stanza occurs altogether six times in the poem has led some to suspect that it may conceal a private, cryptic message. If so, the message has never been decoded.

My theory -- the reader may be able to formulate a better one -is that thimbles, forks, a railway share, smiles, and soap are connected with the Snark's five unmistakable marks mentioned in Fit 2. The forks are for eating crisp Snark meat. The railway share appeals to the Snark's ambition to become wealthy and so can be used for baiting a death trap. Smiles are to let the Snark know when a pun has been perpetrated. The soap is of course for the bathing machines that the Snark carries about, and the thimble

-65-

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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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