CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 16. . . .December 21, 2012
Lewis Carroll's epic nonsense poem is presented in all of its unabridged, bewildering glory. The absurd adventures of a motley crew in search of a Snark are organized into eight sections called fits. Nine men, including a Banker ("engaged at enormous expense"), a Butcher, and a man who forgot his name ("His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"/ And his enemies "Toasted-cheese") as well as a Beaver ("that paced on the deck,/ Or would sit making lace in the bow") set off in search of a Snark. This unseen, elusive Snark is described as having a "fondness for bathing machines", always gets up late ("it frequently breakfast at five-o'clock tea,/ And dines on the following day") and has a "slowness in taking a jest … it always looks grave at a pun"). Guided by the Bellman's map, which is a blank sheet of paper, their journey is indeed strange.
Oleg Lipchenko's outstanding charcoal illustrations interpret the verse for a new generation. The pages are luxuriously detailed, and there's lots to pore over – from the ornately carved forests to the swirling dream scenes with flying thimbles and trumpet playing creatures. The sepia tones in the illustrations evoke a dark, brooding atmosphere.
What does the poem mean? I'm not really sure. But children and the adults in their lives will all enjoy the marvellously odd characters and every curious word.
Linda Ludke is librarian in London, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.