Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Book 21 of 2014: Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

When I was younger I was given a lovely big hardback edition of The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll which I used to spend a lot of time poring over, mainly looking at the illustrations and reading snippets of poetry. Obviously I read the stories as well, but it was the pictures and rhymes that I liked to revisit over and over again.

Now I own a lovely clothbound version of Jabberwocky which is just the poems written by Lewis Carroll along with bits of information about who they were written for and when. All the classic Carroll poems are there, obviously the most familiar ones are the ones from the Alice stories but there are others from letters written to friends as well as other publications.

I’ve read most of these before, though some were unfamiliar. Although my old copy of the complete works claims to be complete I think it is missing the earlier ones in this collection as well as the later ones. It was fun to be introduced to the ones that I didn’t recognise as well as to be reintroduced to some that I’d forgotten.

‘Jabberwocky’ is always going to be my favourite, especially since it came up when I was studying U211 and I was able to look at it in a new way. I like the way that the made up words meanings can be inferred from the context and I had a very enjoyable tutorial discussing it in great depth. It wasn’t even part of an assignment or anything, we just got carried away with our conversation.

There are plenty of others that I really enjoyed. Most of them were from the Alice stories which I’ll admit I became familiar with when I was little through the Disney film. I really liked the acrostic poems. We used to do acrostics all the time when I was at school but we were never given examples by ‘proper’ poets. It would’ve been useful for us to see how they can be written:

Round the wondrous globe I wander wild,
Up and down-hill – Age succeeds to youth -
Toiling all in vain to find a child
Half so loving, half so dear as Ruth.

The riddle poems were good as well though I really had no hope of solving most of them. They quite often dealt with mathematical problems which I know nothing about but I’ll take it for granted that they’re very clever. It was particularly with these riddle poems that it was useful to have the notes at the end, they helped me to understand the poems (who they were written for, when, why) as well as to solve these puzzles.

I really shouldn’t go so long without reading poetry but I struggle to find poems that really appeal to me in the same way as they used to when I was younger. I have been doing slightly better recently so I’ll carry on looking out for more that appeals to me. If you’ve got any recommendations, let me know.

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