The Hunting of the Snark

The Hunting of the Snark, subtitled An Agony in 8 Fits, is a poem by the English writer Lewis Carroll. It is typically categorised as a nonsense poem. Written between 1874 and 1876, it borrows the setting, some creatures, and eight portmanteau words from Carroll's earlier poem "Jabberwocky" in his children's novel Through the Looking-Glass (1871).

The Hunting of the Snark
Cover of first edition
AuthorLewis Carroll
IllustratorHenry Holiday
Cover artistHenry Holiday
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
GenreNonsense poetry
PublisherMacmillan Publishers
Publication date
29 March 1876
OCLC2035667
TextThe Hunting of the Snark at Wikisource

The narrative follows a crew of ten trying to hunt the Snark, a creature which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum. The only crewmember to find the Snark quietly vanishes, leading the narrator to explain that the Snark was a Boojum after all. The poem is dedicated to young Gertrude Chataway, whom Carroll met at the English seaside town Sandown in the Isle of Wight in 1875. Included with many copies of the first edition of the poem was Carroll's religious tract, An Easter Greeting to Every Child Who Loves "Alice".

The Hunting of the Snark was published by Macmillan in the United Kingdom in March 1876, with illustrations by Henry Holiday. It had mixed reviews from reviewers, who found it strange. The first printing of The Hunting of the Snark consisted of 10,000 copies. There were two reprintings by the conclusion of the year; in total, the poem was reprinted 17 times between 1876 and 1908. Carroll often denied knowing the meaning behind the poem; however, in an 1896 reply to one letter, he agreed with one interpretation of the poem as an allegory for the search for happiness. Henry Holiday, the illustrator of the poem, considered the poem a "tragedy".[lower-alpha 1] Scholars have found various meanings in the poem, among them existential angst, an allegory for tuberculosis, and a mockery of the Tichborne case. The Hunting of the Snark has been adapted for musicals, opera, plays, and music.


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