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Re: [lewiscarroll] Re: Mary Brown and Dodgson and religion/morality

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  • KarolineLouise@aol.com
    ... Actually it was December 26! so Morton and I were both wrong. There s obviously a force-field around that letter that makes it impossible to correctly
    Message 1 of 18 , Oct 1, 2002
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      jbuch@... writes:


      Cohen, in "Lewis Carroll: A Biography" page 373 cites this letter as
      having been written on December 20, 1889 .. (or at least a letter with
      the same phrases).

      However, handling that many references would drive me stark distraught
      trying to keep them all straight.



      Actually it was December 26! so Morton and I were both wrong. There's obviously a force-field around that letter that makes it impossible to correctly identify the date - or maybe it changes each time anyone looks at it!.

      Mary B was born on Nov 16 1861 - so she was 28 at the time this letter was written.

      I agree with you that  CLD was struggling to find answers for her, and who can blame him? it's always hard when someone unexpectedly pours out their breaking heart like that, and it leaves anyone who has to deal with it feeling inadequate - particularly if the relationship has never been that close before.

      It's obviously shocked him to receive her letter and quite revealingly he has delayed sending her an answer. I think that's quite a male response - pausing to think things through, the fear of using wrong words and making the woman feel worse without intending to. A woman in that place, I think, would more likely just grab the  pen and write back in a rush, gabbling out a lot of empathy. Men need to give advice. Women can just say 'I know - it's awful isn't it, you poor darling'.

      In Mary's place I think I'd feel the lack of the 'I know it's awful' stuff, but  I think I'd appreciate the genuine and painful efforts he's obviously gone to to advise me.  I think he comes across as a genuinely empathic and involved person who is a little out of his depth, trying to find comfort to offer. Some of that comfort reads flat and rather platitudinous (wouldn't we all end up like that under those circs though?), and some of it seems to flow right from his soul.

      Somehow he never seems convincing when he talks like a proper Victorian about the Bible, and I wonder if he at those times sensed he was playing a bit of a game, striving for a  conviction he didn't have.

      But the section I quoted yesterday I think comes across as totally real and honest, and reads to me like a very personal solution to very private moral questions. It can read like a fudge, maybe it was, or maybe it was a genuine effort to square a circle - to match  his Victorian moral upbringing with his own internal instincts. I suspect this may have been the solution that lifted him out of his trough of guilt and enabled him to face life again. It provided him with a means of being able to get beyond the rigid definitions of right and wrong that he had learned in his youth, and the awful trap that said even questioning those definitions was itself a sin. For a mind like his to be imprisoned in this moral Scavenger's Daughter must have been intolerable. I suspect this personal code of 'listen to your inner voice' was what saved him there.

      Karoline L
    • jbuchus
      I think that this letter also points out that Carroll was not a polished clergyman, able to deal with the terrible crisis that hits so many so hard in life.
      Message 2 of 18 , Oct 1, 2002
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        I think that this letter also points out that Carroll was not a
        polished clergyman, able to deal with the terrible crisis that hits so
        many so hard in life.

        So, even if he had exposure as a "guest preacher", this hard
        one-on-one need for helping words must have struck him squarely on the
        head.

        Early, he decided against taking Priest orders. Maybe this episode
        reveals a different light on that decision. Maybe it reveals nothing
        of the kind.




        --- In lewiscarroll@y..., KarolineLouise@a... wrote:

        > Mary B was born on Nov 16 1861 - so she was 28 at the time this
        letter was
        > written.
        >
        > I agree with you that CLD was struggling to find answers for her,
        and who
        > can blame him? it's always hard when someone unexpectedly pours out
        their
        > breaking heart like that, and it leaves anyone who has to deal with
        it
        > feeling inadequate - particularly if the relationship has never been
        that
        > close before.
        >
        > It's obviously shocked him to receive her letter and quite
        revealingly he has
        > delayed sending her an answer. I think that's quite a male response
        - pausing
        > to think things through, the fear of using wrong words and making
        the woman
        > feel worse without intending to. A woman in that place, I think,
        would more
        > likely just grab the pen and write back in a rush, gabbling out a
        lot of
        > empathy. Men need to give advice. Women can just say 'I know - it's
        awful
        > isn't it, you poor darling'.
        >
        > In Mary's place I think I'd feel the lack of the 'I know it's awful'
        stuff,
        > but I think I'd appreciate the genuine and painful efforts he's
        obviously
        > gone to to advise me. I think he comes across as a genuinely
        empathic and
        > involved person who is a little out of his depth, trying to find
        comfort to
        > offer. Some of that comfort reads flat and rather platitudinous
        (wouldn't we
        > all end up like that under those circs though?), and some of it
        seems to flow
        > right from his soul.

        The letter, as a whole, has a pretty disorganized feeling to it,
        doesn't it? Probably, the most disorganized letter of his I have ever
        read.


        >
        > Somehow he never seems convincing when he talks like a proper
        Victorian
        > about the Bible, and I wonder if he at those times sensed he was
        playing a
        > bit of a game, striving for a conviction he didn't have.
        -------------------------------------

        As a mere youth, one of my career choices was to be a Methodist
        Minister. I was insincere. I wanted the pulpit as a place to tell
        others right and wrong.

        Thank goodness, I didn't follow that line. It would have been yet
        another insincere or poorly motivated "religious" leader.
        ----------------------------

        >For a mind like his
        > to be imprisoned in this moral Scavenger's Daughter must have been
        > intolerable. I suspect this personal code of 'listen to your inner
        voice' was
        > what saved him there.
        >
        > Karoline L

        Jim
      • markisrael2
        Dodgson wrote: # God has given him means for learning # what is his duty, such as prayer, # reading the Bible, etc., and these # means he ought to use. But
        Message 3 of 18 , Oct 1, 2002
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          Dodgson wrote:

          # God has given him means for learning
          # what is his duty, such as prayer,
          # reading the Bible, etc., and these
          # means he ought to use. But if, having
          # duly used all those means, he then
          # does what seems to him right, that is
          # right, in the sight of God, whatever
          # the resulting act may be..."

          Karoline writes:

          > Hmmm...I have to say this seems to me
          > a dangerously loose and relativist
          > position to teach anyone.

          It's a fairly common Christian position, isn't it? I've seen
          statements that I think are equivalent in other Anglican writers.
          These passages from C. S. Lewis's _Screwtape Letters_ (advice from a
          senior devil to a junior devil) come to mind:

          "Like most of the other things which humans are excited about, such
          as health and sickness, age and youth, or war and peace, it [falling
          in love] is, from the point of view of the spiritual life, mainly
          raw material"
          "I know that the Enemy [God] disapproves many of these causes. But
          that is where He is so unfair. He often makes prizes of humans who
          have given their lives for causes He thinks bad on the monstrously
          sophistical ground that the humans thought them good and were
          following the best they knew."
          "Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which [...]
          Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it
          can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism.
          [...] Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you
          have almost won your man [got him condemned to Hell], and it makes
          very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing."

          I think this position is a logical consequence of the words of St.
          Paul: "For by grace are ye saved through faith [...] Not of works
          [...]" (Ephesians, 2:8-9). Of course, other Biblical texts
          emphasize works (see
          http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/faithalone.html ), and
          other Christian viewpoints weigh the texts differently.

          Karoline continues:

          > Imagine telling a ten year old child - 'examine your conscience
          > and if you think it's right to do something then it is -
          > whatever the resulting act might be'. In fact imagine telling the
          > average adult the same thing!

          I'm sure Dodgson wasn't thinking of a 10-year-old child. Dodgson's
          position as stated would require the child to have read and
          understood the entire Bible first.

          Even I, as an atheist, see a lot of merit in what Dodgson was
          saying. What's the alternative to following one's conscience?
          Following the dictates of society? If more people followed their
          conscience and fewer people followed the dictates of society,
          wouldn't we have fewer totalitarian governments?
        • AnisaT@aol.com
          In a message dated 01/10/2002 09:45:33 GMT Daylight Time, ... expressed both in the Mary Brown correspondence AND, more importantly , in Sylvie and Bruno
          Message 4 of 18 , Oct 1, 2002
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            In a message dated 01/10/2002 09:45:33 GMT Daylight Time, KarolineLouise@... writes:


            Somehow he never seems convincing when he talks like a proper Victorian about the Bible, and I wonder if he at those times sensed he was playing a bit of a game, striving for a  conviction he didn't have.

            Yes.    Well,  G iven Carroll's rather 'outrageou s' views on sin (as expressed both in the Mary Brown correspondence AND, more  importantly , in Sylvie and Bruno  there's little wonder!   Carroll seems to be taking  head on   those hypocrisies expressed in irony and satire in Dickens and Th ackeray  doesn't he?  The pompous hypocrisies of  the middle, merchant  and upper classes when  condemning the inevitable crimes of the   desperate.   Most especially   , it seems to me, he seems to reserve a special scorn for the well endowed parson and all that   'rich   man in his castle, poor man at his gate'  type of sermon that was  so  particularly   out of touch with  the realities of  19th  century laissez faire  liberalism.  Carroll's 'social con science'  is first documented in th e famous diary ent ry   following his reading of  Alton Locke   but,  of  c ourse, this was  an en try of personal  and general despair.  It is on e  of the difficulties of the Church in  the 19th   century  that  it took as given  the inevitabilit y of   inequality  - ev en Kingsley, the avowed Chartist,  forcefully preached the status quo in terms o f socio-economic relations.  All this, of  course , against  the backdrop of  the French Revolution   and the 1848  unrest  in Europe.   Nevertheless, Carroll seems to have genuinely recognised  that in  a world  that was  (as he sees it) riven with inequalities sin    itself    develops a form of relativism  - as Karoline mentioned  earlier.  It is more than likely  that it is this sort o f 'dangerous' philosophy    that  caused  the extended family   so much anxiety  -  and may have been a  major reason why they were  in such an  unseemin g hurry to     destroy the bulk of Carroll's papers.    Mind you,  in essence, all he  was saying  is that  if  a starving mother steals half  a loaf to feed h er children, this crime must be seen in  a different light    to the  case of a  wealthy man who defrauds a neighbour to  increase his wealth (I wonder what he would h ave  had to say about the Enron case!).  This, to Carroll  would h ave seemed wholly logical.  Of course, there was also Carroll's rather 'syncretic' views on religion  that he  seems to have developed from the 1870s on.   These  m atters  wou ld have been something wholely incomprehensible to people with the narro w  ideology and  intellect of  (say)  Collingwood.

            John  Tufail
          • AnisaT@aol.com
            In a message dated 01/10/2002 23:26:04 GMT Daylight Time, ... Sort of.... ummhh.... Platonic?
            Message 5 of 18 , Oct 1, 2002
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              In a message dated 01/10/2002 23:26:04 GMT Daylight Time, lyon@... writes:


              There is a reason for CLD's Platonic capitals in his works, you know. They
              are always a reference to something of significance.


              Sort of.... ummhh....  Platonic?
            • AnisaT@aol.com
              In a message dated 02/10/2002 03:39:01 GMT Daylight Time, ... Soooorrreee!! Couldn t resist it! (Anythin g for a cheap laugh - you know me). Hey. Erm, I
              Message 6 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                In a message dated 02/10/2002 03:39:01 GMT Daylight Time, lyon@... writes:


                How very profound of you.



                Soooorrreee!!  Couldn't resist it! (Anythin g for a cheap  laugh - you know me).

                Hey.  Erm, I need a profound favour.  Can you put together a few paragraphs giving YOUR take on the following Snark illustrations:

                       1. The map!

                       2. The Barrister's dream.

                       3.  The Baker's uncle illustration.

                       4.  The illustration   of the crew on board.

                That's all.  I want to be sure to present  this as a JOINT effort and it  sho uld include your stuff on the North  Star and Boots  - even if there are some possible contradictions (which I don't think there are).

                John

                ps - wasn't really just a 'cheap laugh'  - I wanted to underline what you said really!
              • Bryan Talbot
                I know that LC had a collection of illustrations. Is it known whether he had prints by William Hogarth in his collection? Or if there s any link of artistic
                Message 7 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                  I know that LC had a collection of illustrations. Is it known whether he had
                  prints by William Hogarth in his collection? Or if there's any link of
                  artistic influence with Tenniel and Hogarth? None are mentioned in the book
                  ALICE'S WHITE KNIGHT.

                  Bryan

                  _______________________________________________ http://www.bryan-talbot.com

                  Nice prints! Visit:

                  http://www.podgallery.com/index.cfm?page=catdetails&category=305&From=262

                  Brand new Luther Arkwright website!

                  http://www.modernvikings.com/luther-arkwright/
                • KATE LYON
                  At that time, he went on, a great tidal wave of selfishness was sweeping over human thought. Right and Wrong had somehow been transformed into Gain and
                  Message 8 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                    "At that time," he went on, "a great tidal wave of selfishness was sweeping
                    over human thought. Right and Wrong had somehow been transformed into Gain
                    and Loss, and Religion had become a sort of commercial transaction. We may
                    be thankful that our preachers are beginning to take a nobler view of life."
                    (Sylvie and Bruno - Chapter 19 - How to Make a Phlizz)

                    I am reminded here of Newman's work - Loss and Gain. Newman avows here that
                    although Christ exists, people fail to recognise him - "And ye knew me not."
                    newman;s stance throughout the work is that man have lost sight of God - the
                    wealthy clergy with their cushion to protect their knees from hard pews,
                    their wives, dressed to the nines, all designed to impress. Newman's Loss
                    and Gain shows that God can be found within the simple folk - in children,
                    in the innocent, in those who appear to be fools, but are wiser than those
                    touted as wise. It is those people who, in their simplicity of heart and
                    spirit, generally choose what is right in the sight of God. I think that
                    what he is saying is that the simple - and the innocent - have a clear-sight
                    that helps them to choose the right path.

                    There is a reason for CLD's Platonic capitals in his works, you know. They
                    are always a reference to something of significance.

                    Kate lyon
                  • HLebailly@aol.com
                    Dear Bryan, on Friday 24th March 1882, a so far unpublished entry in CLD s manuscript diaries reads : Got Chandler to come and criticise a collection of
                    Message 9 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                      Dear Bryan,
                      on Friday 24th March 1882, a so far unpublished entry in CLD's manuscript
                      diaries reads : " Got Chandler to come and criticise a collection of
                      Hogarth's prints (117) which I have just bought. I think of selecting the
                      presentable ones and selling the rest. " That is the only mention of that
                      purchase and of Hogarth in general I have been able to trace in my thorough
                      examination of the MS for my PHD.
                      CLD seems to have quite interesting misgivings about the propriety of some of
                      the 117 prints in the portfolio he had bought. Did he carry on with his plan
                      to pick and choose and sell again what he deemed improper ? Another mystery
                      that might never be solved, I'm afraid.
                      Anyway, the date of the purchase is far too late to suggest any connection
                      with AinW and its illustrations.
                      For people interested in John Tenniel (who had in fact very little in common
                      with CLD), I think the obvious influence is the French 19th century
                      draughtsman and engraver Grandville (search the list's archive under that
                      name) who drew many living flowers, anthropomorphic animals, etc., and was as
                      much admired by the Surrealists as LC.
                      Hugues Lebailly
                    • AnisaT@aol.com
                      In a message dated 02/10/2002 20:20:12 GMT Daylight Time, HLebailly@aol.com ... Hugues, I think the Grandville connection is indeed fruitful, but don t y ou th
                      Message 10 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                        In a message dated 02/10/2002 20:20:12 GMT Daylight Time, HLebailly@... writes:


                        For people interested in John Tenniel (who had in fact very little in common
                        with CLD), I think the obvious influence is the French 19th century
                        draughtsman and engraver Grandville (search the list's archive under that
                        name) who drew many living flowers, anthropomorphic animals, etc., and was as
                        much admired by the Surrealists as LC.


                        Hugues,

                        I think the Grandville connection is indeed fruitful, but don't y ou th ink it is at least as likely that o f the two in t he partnership (Carroll/Tenniel) it was Carroll  more than Tenniel who was influenced.  After all, Illustrations like Grandville's 'Battle of the Cards'  and th e 'Frog Footman'  could not have been emulated in  by Tenniell   in  the Alice books unless Carroll had first provided the text!  Indeed, although not particularly a Tenniel expert, I don't see that much Grandville influence in  Tenniel's  works outside the Alice books?

                        John Tufail

                      • KATE LYON
                        How very profound of you. ... From: AnisaT@aol.com To: lewiscarroll@yahoogroups.com Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 4:08 PM Subject: Re: [lewiscarroll] Re:
                        Message 11 of 18 , Oct 2, 2002
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                          How very profound of you.
                          ----- Original Message -----
                          Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2002 4:08 PM
                          Subject: Re: [lewiscarroll] Re: Mary Brown and Dodgson and religion/morality

                          In a message dated 01/10/2002 23:26:04 GMT Daylight Time, lyon@... writes:


                          There is a reason for CLD's Platonic capitals in his works, you know. They
                          are always a reference to something of significance.


                          Sort of.... ummhh....  Platonic?

                          to unsubscribe  send a blank email to: lewiscarroll-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

                          Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to the Yahoo! Terms of Service.
                        • Bryan Talbot
                          ... Yes, I have a book on him. I was thinking more of Tenniel being part of a lineage of english illustration, begun by Hogarth, and just wondering whether
                          Message 12 of 18 , Oct 3, 2002
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                            >For people interested in John Tenniel (who had in fact very little in common
                            >with CLD), I think the obvious influence is the French 19th century
                            >draughtsman and engraver Grandville

                            Yes, I have a book on him.

                            I was thinking more of Tenniel being part of a lineage of english
                            illustration, begun by Hogarth, and just wondering whether there are any
                            specific mentions of him in any of the books on Tenniel or Carroll. Hogarth
                            was well known to the Victorians. Dickens, eg, grew up in a house with
                            framed Hogarth prints on the walls.


                            Bryan

                            _______________________________________________ http://www.bryan-talbot.com

                            Nice prints! Visit:

                            http://www.podgallery.com/index.cfm?page=catdetails&category=305&From=262

                            Brand new Luther Arkwright website!

                            http://www.modernvikings.com/luther-arkwright/
                          • Mark Israel <MarkIsrael@aol.com>
                            In http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/message/7250 , Hugues ... William Hogarth s picture _The Distressed Poet_ is reproduced on p. 38 of the current
                            Message 13 of 18 , Feb 9, 2003
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                              In http://groups.yahoo.com/group/lewiscarroll/message/7250 , Hugues
                              wrote:

                              > on Friday 24th March 1882, a so far
                              > unpublished entry in CLD's manuscript
                              > diaries reads: "Got Chandler to come
                              > and criticise a collection of Hogarth's
                              > prints (117) which I have just bought.
                              > I think of selecting the presentable
                              > ones and selling the rest." That is the
                              > only mention of that purchase and of
                              > Hogarth in general I have been able to
                              > trace in my thorough examination of the
                              > MS for my PHD.

                              William Hogarth's picture _The Distressed Poet_ is reproduced on p.
                              38 of the current issue of The Carrollian. The context is the
                              following lines from the 1857 version of Carroll's poem "Hiawatha's
                              Photographing":

                              # He would gaze upon the distance -
                              # (Like a poet seeing visions,
                              # Like a man that plots a poem,
                              # In a dressing-gown of damask,
                              # At 12.30 in the morning,
                              # Ere the servants bring in luncheon) -

                              Matt Demakos' note: "Carroll likens the father's pose to either a
                              Grub Street poet of the 1730s or to the newer Bohemian movement, or
                              both. In William Hogarth's painting _The Distressed Poet_ (1735),
                              engraved in 1737, a Grub Street poet in a dressing-gown is disturbed
                              by the entrance of a milkmaid demanding payment of a late bill. The
                              Edward Bulwer-Lytton play _Not So Bad As We Seem_, presented most
                              famously in May 1851 for the Queen, humorously alluded to the Hogarth
                              work. In the fourth act, scene two, the actors surprisingly assumed
                              the positions of the subjects in the painting. The play was put on
                              by Dickens and starred many non-actors, such as John Tenniel."
                            • Bryan Talbot
                              ... That s great information. I must have missed this posting somehow. The ... The backdrop that *must* have been for that scene was an enlarged copy of the
                              Message 14 of 18 , Feb 9, 2003
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                                >> on Friday 24th March 1882, a so far
                                >> unpublished entry in CLD's manuscript
                                >> diaries reads: "Got Chandler to come
                                >> and criticise a collection of Hogarth's
                                >> prints (117) which I have just bought.
                                >> I think of selecting the presentable
                                >> ones and selling the rest." That is the
                                >> only mention of that purchase and of
                                >> Hogarth in general I have been able to
                                >> trace in my thorough examination of the
                                >> MS for my PHD.
                                >
                                That's great information. I must have missed this posting somehow.

                                The
                                > Edward Bulwer-Lytton play _Not So Bad As We Seem_, presented most
                                > famously in May 1851 for the Queen, humorously alluded to the Hogarth
                                > work. In the fourth act, scene two, the actors surprisingly assumed
                                > the positions of the subjects in the painting. The play was put on
                                > by Dickens and starred many non-actors, such as John Tenniel."
                                >
                                The backdrop that *must* have been for that scene was an enlarged copy of
                                "the Distrest (sic) Poet's Garret" by Hogarth (I assume minus the
                                characters) painted by a "Mr Pitt".

                                Best,

                                Bryan

                                _______________________________________________ http://www.bryan-talbot.com

                                Nice prints! Visit:

                                http://www.podgallery.com/index.cfm?page=catdetails&category=305&From=262

                                Brand new Luther Arkwright website!

                                http://www.modernvikings.com/luther-arkwright/
                              • Mark Israel <MarkIsrael@aol.com>
                                I found another Hogarth reference. Michael Hancher, in _The Tenniel Illustrations to the Alice Books_, devotes a whole chapter to why the March Hare has
                                Message 15 of 18 , Feb 19, 2003
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                                  I found another Hogarth reference.

                                  Michael Hancher, in _The Tenniel Illustrations to the "Alice" Books_,
                                  devotes a whole chapter to why the March Hare has straw in his hair.
                                  He writes: "Because pallets made of straw were common in Bedlam, the
                                  word 'straw' became associated with madness. [...] Hogarth's famous
                                  view of Bedlam in _The Rake's Progress_ (1735) shows straw used as
                                  bedding and also as two kinds of headdress. [...] the naked
                                  megalomaniac seen through the door has woven straw into the shape of
                                  a crown; and the kneeling man in front of him has supplied his shaved
                                  head with a makeshift straw wig under his hat."

                                  In the Nursery Alice (1890), Carroll wrote, "That's the March Hare,
                                  with the long ears, and straws mixed up in his hair. The straws
                                  showed he was mad -- I don't know why. Never twist up straws among
                                  _your_ hair, for fear people should think you're mad!"

                                  The "I don't know why" may hint at limits to Carroll's familiarity
                                  with Hogarth.
                                • Bryan Talbot
                                  ... I d read the reference to straw in the hair but not linked it to Plate 7 of the Rakes s Progress. Another useful find! Bryan
                                  Message 16 of 18 , Feb 19, 2003
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                                    > I found another Hogarth reference.

                                    I'd read the reference to straw in the hair but not linked it to Plate 7 of
                                    the Rakes's Progress. Another useful find!

                                    Bryan

                                    _______________________________________________ http://www.bryan-talbot.com

                                    Nice prints! Visit:

                                    http://www.podgallery.com/index.cfm?page=catdetails&category=305&From=262

                                    Brand new Luther Arkwright website!

                                    http://www.modernvikings.com/luther-arkwright/
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