The Banker's Spectacles

• [left]: The Banker after his encounter with the Bandersnatch, depicted in a segment of Henry Holiday's illustration (woodcut by Joseph Swain for block printing) to The Banker's Fate in Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark (scanned from an 1876 edition of the book) and

• [right]: a horizontally compressed copy of The Image Breakers (1566-1568) aka Allegory of Iconoclasm, an etching by Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder (British Museum, Dept. of Print and Drawings, 1933.1.1..3, see also Edward Hodnett: Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder, Utrecht 1971, pp. 25-29). I low-pass-filtered (blurred) some elements which Holiday used to construct the Banker's spectacles and (segment in left image) mirrored the "nose" about a horizontal axis.

 

 

"Flickerians" seem to be quite open to my comparisons. Most "Carrollians" I know, however, seem to be reluctant to deal with this. (When I started my comparisons in December 2008, I didn't even know the term "Carrollians".) One of them even complained I would "sully" Carroll's and Holiday's The Hunting of the Snark. But there also are some more open Carrollians, and one of them warned me jokingly, that Carroll's poem is something like the "Holy Grail" to them. Perhaps, Carrollian or not, there also is the fear to be foolded by pareidolia. That is a pity, because Holiday's pictorial citations could help to interpret what people came to call a "nonsense poem". Carroll's poem is not non-sense, but he gave it a deniable sense. That may have helped the Reverend Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and Henry Holiday to adress Victorian taboos without getting into serious trouble.

 

369    "The method employed I would gladly explain,

370        While I have it so clear in my head,

371    If I had but the time and you had but the brain--

372        But much yet remains to be said.

 

373    "In one moment I've seen what has hitherto been

374        Enveloped in absolute mystery,

375    And without extra charge I will give you at large

376        A Lesson in Natural History."

 

Carroll and Holiday may have had a another reason to be ambiguous: The book was sold as a book for children, even though it surely targeted adult readers too. Carroll was so afraid of scaring young readers that he inserted (on its own expense) a soothing Easter Greeting into the already printed first edition before it went to the market: "... And if I have written anything to add to those stores of innocent and healthy amusement that are laid up in books for the children I love so well, it is surely something I may hope to look back upon without shame and sorrow (as how much of life must then be recalled!) when my turn comes to walk through the valley of shadows. ..."

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Taken on June 19, 2011