The books > Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Discuss Lewis Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" here!
User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Wed Jan 04, 2017 5:46 pm

There's the play on words on "pounds and cents" and then, in the Trial, when the jurors write down the three dates and reduce them to shilling and pence. The only half-way modern joke like that I know of is this, fromThe Mammoth Book of Great British Humor (2010), p. 142:

This chap said to me, "D'you want some LSD? I said, "No thanks, mate, we've gone decimalized now. Pounds, shillings, pence -- no use to me any more." ----- Ted Chippington

I mean, look how the 10/6 on the Hatter's hat in the Tenniel illustrations has become a mystery.

[edit by webmaster] Moved topic to the appropriate subforum
Last edited by Treacle on Thu Jan 05, 2017 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:36 pm

Sorry, that's "pounds and pence", not "pounds and cents".
Incidentally, Alice's 1862 silver sixpence is worth a lot more than that on today's market because it is old and silver.

User avatar
The Queen of Hearts
Honorary member
Posts: 1770
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:45 pm
Location: Wonderland Card Palace, USA

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby The Queen of Hearts » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:45 am

I think for those in the US that the money jokes don't really have as much meaning, with the exception of those who really want to know more about the books and might go through the effort of reading an annotated copy.

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:52 pm

The proof of what you say is on the blog at this site: "Happy Mad Hatter Day!", which has nothing to do with the Hatter's hat having a price of half-a-Guinea.

User avatar
Lenny
Webmaster
Posts: 1313
Joined: Tue Oct 26, 2004 3:46 pm
Location: the Netherlands
Contact:

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Lenny » Thu Oct 26, 2017 7:47 am

`You ought to have finished,’ said the King. `When did you begin?’
The Hatter looked at the March Hare, who had followed him into the court, arm-in-arm with the Dormouse. `Fourteenth of March, I think it was,’ he said.
`Fifteenth,’ said the March Hare.
`Sixteenth,’ added the Dormouse.
`Write that down,’ the King said to the jury, and the jury eagerly wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up, and reduced the answer to shillings and pence.


Somewhat off topic, but... as Carroll was a mathematician, I wonder if the result of that silly calculation of the jurors has any meaning?

Let's assume the year is 1862 (when the story was written). The sum would then be:
14/03/1862
15/03/1862
16/03/1862
_____________+
45/09/5586 which can be seen as L/S/D (Pounds/Shillings/Pence)

Rewriting this to the proper monetary notation would result in 68/14/6 (there are 12 pence in a shilling, and 20 shillings in a pound)
Reducing this to only shillings and pence would result in 1374/6.

If we assume the year is not 1862 but 1865, the publication year of the book, the results would be:
45/09/5595 --> 68/15/3 --> 1375/3

If we assume the year is 1859 (because Alice was 7 in the book, not 10 as she was in real life when the story was invented), the results woud be:
45/09/5577 --> 68/13/9 --> 1373/9

And if we leave out the year altogether and only use the day and month, it would be:
45/9 (or 2/5/9)

Does any of these results have any meaning?

We may even see the result in shillings and pence as a subtraction sum, which would result in respectively 229, 458.33, 152.55, and 5. Would that have any meaning?

User avatar
Cheshire Dodo
Dormouse
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri May 05, 2017 6:36 pm

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Cheshire Dodo » Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:58 pm

Converting the dates to currency and then adding them together, could be based on what Dodgson, and others, may have experienced when they were at school.

Instead of setting the pupils a proper maths lesson, their teacher would just tell them to “Convert these dates into currency, and then add them together”.

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:10 pm

The character Alice isn't old enough to know much about money. A sixpence is the largest coin she gets to use. Money jokes may be clever but weak in AAiW as a result of Alice's point of view.

The jury members added dates and reduced the sum to shillings and pence on their own. The King's instruction was, "Write that down!" Earlier, in Chapter 9, the Duchess makes the same confusion of time with money: " ' Ah, well! It means much the same thing,' said the Duchess, digging her sharp little chin into Alice's shoulder as she added, 'and the moral of that is -- "Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves' " That's the author's pun of the common advice "Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves." (The Duchess, like the other characters, means what she says. The author is the one making the jokes.)

You seem to be right, Cheshire Dodo. The jury's action was a common reaction?

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:15 pm

Postscript. It's a downer, but since a human life is finite people "value" life. We spend time. Oh no, another life/death joke in the book, like not saying anything if you fall off a house, or Alice examining the pros and cons of never becoming an old woman, or by the futile humor of nonsensical math exercises of what time is worth.

Never mind. Alice ends the story by saying, "Why, you're nothing but a pack of cards!", and waking to the falling of leaves as those cards rise against her. What a relief.

User avatar
Treacle
Honorary member
Posts: 350
Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2007 7:26 pm
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Treacle » Tue Nov 07, 2017 5:18 am

The author is not setting up a maths or logic problem here, as he did in the puzzles in A Tangled Tale (1885).

More likely he is following his own writing advice from the poem Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur:

"Last, as to the arrangement:
Your reader, you should show him,
Must take what information he
Can get, and look for no im-
mature disclosure of the drift
And purpose of your poem.

"Therefore, to test his patience--
How much he can endure--
Mention no places, names, or dates,
And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
Consistently obscure.

[The poem was written in 1863--one source says 1860-1863--the year Lewis Carroll started adding material to the Ur-Alice on George Macdonald's advice. The shillings and pence joke was put into AAiW sometime between 1863 and 1865. It seems to me that AAiW was written according to the ironic rules found in Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur.]

User avatar
Jess
Honorary member
Posts: 230
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2004 1:00 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: Are the money jokes in AAiW still funny?

Postby Jess » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:43 am

`Write that down,’ the King said to the jury, and the jury eagerly wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up, and reduced the answer to shillings and pence.
I think the joke works, if not in its original intended meaning, even if you don't know that the L/S/D money format looks like a date and "can" be converted - in fact I didn't realise it until reading this discussion! To me it just seemed another element of surreality (and juror incompetence) that you could get from a list of dates to a result in shillings and pence!


Return to “The books”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest