150 years ago today, a brilliant but painfully shy Oxford University mathematician and Anglican deacon named Charles Lutwidge Dodgson took the three daughters of his dean on one of many rowing excursions on the Thames; as was his custom he told them an ex tempore “fairy tale”, but on this particular occasion the second-oldest asked him to write the story down for her afterward. The girl’s name was Alice Liddell; the teacher wrote his non-academic publications under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, and the story became the one we know as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Yesterday I published a column about it, including a critical examination of the popular myth that Carroll was a pedophile; The Independent also commemorated the occasion with an article, and if it’s been a while since you read them you may enjoy these PDF copies of Alice in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and “The Hunting of the Snark”.
Here are a few more links in a Carrollian vein:
- Just in time for the anniversary, scientists announce proof of the Higgs boson, whose field has been characterized as “cosmic treacle”.
- Carroll very much enjoyed word games; if you do as well, why not try your hand at writing a short story in only six words?
- Modern masters of nonsense are usually far less benign than the gentle Carroll; one of these is out-of-control lawyer Charles Carreon, about whom my fellow guest-blogger Ken from Popehat has told us so much lately; this is a page which generates faux quotes in Carreon’s often-bizarre style. But Carreon can’t hold a candle to L. Ron Hubbard; this Scientology “assessment” juxtaposes mundane (if nosy) inquiries such as “Have you ever been a coward?” and “Have you ever been a professional prostitute?” with such bizarre queries as “Have you ever stolen a body from another being?”, “Have you ever obliterated a language?” and “Have you ever despoiled a planet of its natural resources?”