The books > Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Discuss Lewis Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" here!
User avatar
Owl
Queen Alice
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 10:13 pm
Location: USA

Postby Owl » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:33 am

There seems to be a difference when the answer to the riddle involves a play on words vs real similarities.

ray

the answer to why is a raven like a writing desk riddle

Postby ray » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:02 pm

They both have bills and tales. AIW:-)

Allison K

Ravens, writing desks, and poets

Postby Allison K » Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:14 pm

What I came up with was that it was a reference to Edgar Allen Poe, because both because he wrote a poem on Ravens and he Wrote on a writing desk. on top of this Edgar Allen Poe wrote all his poetry before Charles Dodgson died so he could have admired his work so he integrated it into his books. Also some consider Poe to be mad just like hatter so that could possibly be why he choose the line to come from him AIW:-)

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 345
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Postby Treacle » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:04 pm

Allison K, the Poe connection makes some sense to me, even though the Hatter and the March Hare say they don't know an answer to the riddle.

Lewis Carroll wrote the Poe parody, Novelty and Romancement, when he was in his teens. You really have to know Poe to be that satirical of him.

RandomNigel
Disappearing Cheshire Cat
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Feb 09, 2014 1:33 am

Postby RandomNigel » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:10 am

Because there is a "b" in both and an "n" in neither.

tori

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby tori » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:56 am

I really believe that Carroll didn't intend for there to be an answer to this riddle. Not having answers or explanations for the unusual is a common theme throughout Alice in Wonderland, and the mystery behind the question is a part of the intrigue of the book. The point being, some questions do not have answers, and even if we do attempt to answer, it takes the enchantment out of the riddle. If we figure out the riddle, what other imagining is left out there?

alicefan95
Disappearing Cheshire Cat
Posts: 9
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2016 12:59 am
Location: Michigan

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby alicefan95 » Fri Sep 30, 2016 5:54 pm

I really believe that Carroll didn't intend for there to be an answer to this riddle. Not having answers or explanations for the unusual is a common theme throughout Alice in Wonderland, and the mystery behind the question is a part of the intrigue of the book. The point being, some questions do not have answers, and even if we do attempt to answer, it takes the enchantment out of the riddle. If we figure out the riddle, what other imagining is left out there?
True. I agree with that.

My 6th grade English teacher's favorite answer was; "Edgar Allen Poe wrote on both."

My favorite is; "There's a B in both, an N in neither, and each begins with an E." I told that one to my brother once, and he couldn't stop laughing.

But if I had to choose what the real answer was? "I haven't the slightest idea" is the real answer.

dragon hunter
Disappearing Cheshire Cat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:27 pm

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby dragon hunter » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:57 am

Raven and Writing Desk
A new answer to the riddle.

Lewis Carroll was known to have a slight stammer so when he was telling the Wonderland story he may have emphasized the beginnings of the words R-r-r-raven and the wR-r-r-riting-desk. So an answer could be that a Raven is very like a Writing-desk when you start to say the word.
Writing desks start with W's - double use (get it?); 1. you can write at them or 2. read from them
And though you can write all the letters, they can never all be read!

Before the 17th century the 'w' was actually pronounced. Other letters ('g' in gnaw and 'k' in knee, for example) fell silent too, but were trapped in the spelling as written English fossilised into its present form. They are all of ancient Germanic origin and were pronounced in Anglo-Saxon.

Fernando S.

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby Fernando S. » Sat May 13, 2017 7:29 pm

Because it can be found in a class with a Writing Master.

Writing Master : i. e. the Yellowhammer or Yellow Bunting (Emberiza citrinella), also known as the Master Scribbler or Scribbling Lark. For this definition and a quotation from 1881, see 'The English Dialect Dictionary. Also, Webster’s Dictionary of 1913 has this entry : “Writing lark (Zoöl.), the European yellow-hammer ; — so called from the curious irregular lines on its eggs. [Prov. Eng.]”


I gave this answer many years ago, and while I think it is generally a good answer, it is not, in my opinion, the "right" answer, or one that takes into account,or helps to explain, the rest of the context where it is found nor the clues that Carroll provides in 'Wonderland' and elsewhere.

In my opinion, the usually celebrated/accepted answer of "Because Poe wrote on both" is not a very good one. I say this because we know that Poe's 'Raven' is based directly on Dicken's Raven (by the name of Grip, a real life raven and a fictional one in 'Barnaby Rudge') and so this solution should at least take second place to "Because Dickens wrote on both."

User avatar
Cheshire Dodo
Dormouse
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:36 pm

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby Cheshire Dodo » Sun May 14, 2017 2:09 pm

I go with "There's a B in both, and an N in neither." But then also add "Remember who's asking the question?"

After all, do you expect a sensible answer from the Mad Hatter? AIW:-)

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 345
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby Treacle » Fri May 19, 2017 9:41 pm

Well, the Hatter did say he didn't know the answer. Wasn't that a sensible answer?

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 345
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Postby Treacle » Fri Jan 05, 2018 4:56 pm

Jenny Woolf, who is a member of this forum, thinks that Neil Bant found a good answer by Lewis Carroll himself within AAiW. Check out Jenny's From Somewhere in Time blog, "So Why IS a Raven Like a Writing Desk?", 26 September 2017.


Return to “The books”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest