Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thank God for small favors

Read this.

Then watch this (5:13).

For those of you who never follow directions, I will now explain what you have just not read and what you have just not watched.

Firstly, you have just not read “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll with accompanying illustrations by John Tenniel. In its inimitable style and no lack of detail, Wikipedia says that “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is “a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll that appeared in his book Through the Looking-Glass, published in December 1871. The poem is recited in chapter four, by Tweedledum and Tweedledee to Alice. The poem is composed of 18 stanzas and contains 108 lines, in an alternation of iambic trimeters and iambic tetrameters. The rhyme scheme is ABCBDB, and masculine rhymes appear frequently. The rhyming and rhythmical scheme used, as well as some archaisms and syntactical turns, are those of the traditional English ballad.” (If, like me, you looked up Wikipedia’s article on Through the Looking Glass at this point, you have discovered that the full title of the work is Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There and that Lewis Carroll is the nom de plume of one Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and that he wrote it as the sequel to his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was published in 1865. And if, also like me, you are able to distinguish tetrameter from tetracyclene but have no clue about the traditional English ballad and have no wish to find out, God bless you, Sir or Madam, as the case may be.)

Secondly, you have just not watched “The Walrus and The Carpenter” scene from the 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland from Walt Disney Productions. It begins innocently enough, with a shot of Alice with Tweedledum and Tweedledee, but soon it bears about as much resemblance to the original version as Marilyn Monroe bears to Mary, Queen of Scots. Furthermore, the phrase “Calooh! Callay!” is included in the animated version, and that phrase is actually part of “Jabberwocky” and not “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” The animators also stole a part of evoked the Pied Piper of Hamelin legend when they had the Walrus play a flute to entice the baby oysters into following him.

Thirdly, it is entirely up to you which version you like best. Even if you prefer Tim Burton’s 2009 version starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, I will say nothing. I am not the culture police. No cartoon or twisted-sister version (Tim Burton, are you listening?) would be possible without the original, of course, but who is to say who is the more talented? Not me, that’s who.

Fourthly, any connection in your mind between this post and the illustrations at the end of my recent post about cabbage is purely intentional.

Fifthly, you should be grateful that you live in the twenty-first century and are reading this post in the air-conditioned comfort of your own home instead of living in the seventeenth or eighteenth century and listening to a sermon from a Puritan divine down at the local Congregational Church, because if you were, you would not be nearing the conclusion at this point but would be forced to sit there in austere surroundings on a hard wooden bench for another two or three hours without any padding whatsoever except what your own derriere could provide, trying to stay awake and feign interest until the Puritan divine had reached Thirty-sixthly.

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