The Nonsense Verse of Lewis Carroll by Lewis Carroll


The Nonsense Verse of Lewis Carroll by Lewis Carroll

'Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! How I wonder what you're at! Up above the world you fly, Like a tea-tray in the sky. Twinkle, twinkle -'. This is a beautifully illustrated edition of Lewis Carroll's nonsense verse: most people are familiar with the verse from Alice through the Looking-Glass, for example The Walrus and the Carpenter , and also other classics such as You are Old , Father William and The Jabberwocky . These are of course all included, alongside some lesser-known poems that are a delight to discover, including The Three Badgers , The Mad Gardener's Song , and The White Knight's Ballad . Fantastically detailed, jewel-like illustrations complement the delights of this most nonsensical verse. The perfect companion to Bisky Bats and Pussy Cats - the Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear .


'A compendium of classic Carroll nonsense. The rich language and haunting rhythms work their magic, while Hussey's exquisite illustrations heighten the sense of absurdity'

The nonsense verse of Lewis Carroll has mesmerized children and adults alike for generations. Carroll was adept at weaving together inconsequential strands with such conviction and dexterity that their very idiocy seems to make sense. Who has not been lulled into a false sense of understanding by the hypnotic words of Jabberwocky? Yet deconstructing Carrolls verse has proved an arduous task for critics since their publication; the wise reader lets the verse wash over him and revels in its sheer absurdity. This latest collection is a delight, containing not only all the old favourites, but also a few rarely seen gems. Reading The Three Badgers aloud will have the shyest of orators declaiming the lines with passion, while having not the slightest idea what they mean. That is the joy of reading Carrolls verse the richness of language and the haunting rhythms work their magic, even as the reader tries vainly to disentangle the plot. In this new edition, Lorna Husseys exquisitely detailed illustrations heighten the sense of absurdity - a pompous porpoise in top hat and tails sways clumsily along the beach; the carpenter snores peacefully, his stomach bulging with unfortunate oysters. Carrolls nonsense is made real his topsy-turvy world where fish walk and birds play bagpipes is an alternative universe into which the reader is drawn. Yet there is a more profound side to some of the poems; a perceptive reader will sense the undertones of sadness in Father William as age creeps up, despite all efforts to keep the years at bay. The Walrus and the Carpenter is a melancholy ballad, with almost religious overtones. Many of the poems can trace their origins back to popular verse of the time, so contemporary readers would have relished the puns in verses such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat. This is a wonderful collection of Carrolls nonsense verse, complemented by Husseys beautiful illustrations, which will delight children of all ages. (Kirkus UK)

About the Author

Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll was born Charles Lutwidge Dodgson on January 27, 1832, the eldest son and third of eleven children born to Frances Jane Lutwidge and the Reverend Charles Dodgson. Carroll had a happy childhood. His mother was patient and gentle, and his father, despite his religious duties, tutored all his children and raised them to be good people. Carroll frequently made up games and wrote stories and poems, some of which were similar to his later published works, for his seven sisters and three brothers.

He was educated at Richmond School in Yorkshire, Rugby School and Christ Church, Oxford. Although his years at Rugby School (1846–49) were unhappy, he was recognized as a good student, and in 1850 he was admitted to further study at Christ Church, Oxford.

He graduated in 1854, and in 1855 he became mathematical lecturer at the college, where he was a somewhat eccentric and withdrawn character. This permanent appointment, which not only recognized his academic skills but also paid him a decent sum, required Carroll to take holy orders in the Anglican Church and to remain unmarried. He agreed to these requirements and was made a deacon in 1861.

Carroll loved to entertain children, and it was Alice, the young daughter of Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, who can be credited with his pinnacle inspiration. Alice Liddell remembers spending many hours with Carroll, sitting on his couch while he told fantastic tales of dream worlds. During an afternoon picnic with Alice and her two sisters, Carroll told the first iteration of what would later become Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. When Alice arrived home, she exclaimed that he must write the story down for her.

He fulfilled the small girl's request, and through a series of coincidences, the story fell into the hands of the novelist Henry Kingsley, who urged Carroll to publish it. The book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was released in 1865. It gained steady popularity, and as a result, Carroll wrote the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, which contained the nonsense poem classic The Jabberwocky (1871). By the time of his death, Alice had become the most popular children's book in England, and by 1932 it was one of the most popular in the world.

Unlike most of the children's books of the day, Alice and through the Looking Glass did not attempt to convey obvious moral lessons. Nor did they contain what critics have tried to insist are there—hidden meanings relating to religion or politics. They are delightful adventure stories in which a normal, healthy, clearheaded little girl reacts to the "reality" of the adult world. Their appeal to adults as well as to children lies in Alice's intelligent response to ridiculous language and action.

Carroll published several other nonsense works, including The Hunting of the Snark (1876), Sylvie and Bruno (1889), and Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893). He also wrote a number of pamphlets poking fun at university affairs, which appeared under a fake name or without any name at all, and he composed several works on mathematics under his true name. In 1881 Carroll gave up his lecturing to devote all of his time to writing.

Lewis Carroll died of bronchitis in his sister's home in Guildford on 14 July, 1898.

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Book Info


32 pages
Interest Age: From 3 To 99


Lewis Carroll
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Author's Website


Publication date

8th April 2002



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