Deceptively harmless-looking monsters and caricatures in fantastical period dress add broad comic notes to Carroll’s tale of a party of bumbling hunters in search of a fabled quarry.
Catching the flavor of the 1876 original, the verses in this edition are printed in widely spaced lines on heavy, cream-colored stock, with a ribbon for a place marker and meticulously detailed illustrations—mostly fine-lined ink drawings but some in color—on nearly every page. Though worthy of notice for “the Snark was a Boojum, you see,” and perhaps “I have said it thrice: / What I tell you three times is true,” most of the eight “Fits” into which the poem is divided (there’s also a slightly abbreviated prose introduction by Carroll and a preface by Riddell) are filled with extended descriptions and silly exchanges that, even with talk of a Jubjub bird and other “Jabberwocky” references, largely go nowhere at some length. Along with lots of wildly gesticulating hunters (all white), Riddell populates the episode with numerous hairy, confused-looking beasts led by two versions of the Snark. Both of these are blue and shaggy, but one resembles an inoffensive kiwi bird and the other is definitely a Boojum, much larger and more Wild Thing–ish, which poses at the end with a young, blonde white girl (Alice?) previously along in disguise.
A handsome volume, but at best it’s just an outtake in the Western European literary tradition. (Poetry. 11-13, adult)