The books > 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

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Treacle
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'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Treacle » Fri Jan 06, 2017 12:54 am

To me the word suggests 'to distraction from' as well as 'to extract from', maybe even 'to take from under' and 'undermine', possibly 'to understand' below the surface or at a lower level of meaning'. Does it suggest other meanings to anybody else?

I checked before I posted this. "Substraction" did not come up on a word search of the Forum.

[edit by admin] Moved to the appropriate subforum (as this is not a word from the books)

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Treacle2 » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:36 pm

Yes, it is. When the queens "examine" Alice in TL-G. It even Googles. Try "white queen through the looking glass substraction". The items found note the word but do not try to explain it.

I was like you when I first found it. At first I thought it was a misprint of "subtraction". But LC repeats it, just when the White Queen speaks, so he probably did it on purpose ("with a porpoise", as LC said in AAiW). I suspect that I'll never figure out from the context what it means to substract.

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Beautiful Soup » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:37 pm

How strange.

I've been looking online, and some versions have the White Queen saying 'subtraction' while others give her the jokey extra S.

Could this be one of those things which Carroll changed in different editions?

Queen of Hearts, do you know?

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Treacle » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:52 am

If it helps at all, I found the word in the old Avenel Books facsimile, which I've always assumed to be a photocopy of the 1871 original edition.

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Lenny » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:13 am

I moved the topic back. :-)

This is really interesting!

The spelling even differs between different 'Annotated Alice' editions: in both 'the definitive edition' and the '150th anniversary edition' it is spelled as 'subtraction', but in my 'standard' 1998 edition, the White Queen indeed says 'substraction'! Which is weird, because the Red Queen always speaks about 'subtraction'.

Maybe it IS a printing error that was picked up by other editions? Although Carroll did alter his texts somewhat after publication, for new editions, so it could have been by his hand as well.

In 'The Carrollian' no. 22 I found an article by Selwyn Goodacre, that lists Carroll's alterations for the 1897 6s. edition of TTLG, but changing 'subtraction' to 'substraction' (or vice versa) is not listed.
I'll notify him about this thread, perhaps he knows more.

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Lenny » Mon Jan 09, 2017 11:04 am

I just received the following reply from mr. Goodacre:
This is most interesting – and a point I had never noticed before, I am most grateful to you for pointing it out to me.

Just to clarify the situation, the word is used four times in Looking-Glass, two with the misspelling. If we use the revised 1897 text page and line count, they occur:

189.16 subtraction
189.20 substraction
190.3 subtraction
191.21 substraction

I have checked right back to the first edition (1871) and the same errors were there in the original – and, sad to say, remained there right up to the last of the 6s. editions in 1942.

I am quite sure these misspellings are errors, and certainly not ‘deliberate changes by Carroll’.

To make matters worse, the same errors are in the People’s edition from 1887 onwards. As a result, all Macmillan editions, which used the People’s edition settings, also have the errors – these include the Illustrated Pocket Classics, and the Cottage Library etc. However, the Miniature edition of 1907 does not have the errors, though the Sixpenny Series of 1898 does have the errors.

Your eagle eyes are better than Lewis Carroll’s and the Macmillan type-setters’!

It is so easy to miss misspellings like this, when doing a line for line analysis. I have prepared my own ‘definitive’ text, and I never noticed this misspelling, even after going through the text line by line!

I continue to update my article on the changes made for the revised edition of 1897, and have now added an ‘addendum’ pointing out this uncorrected error.
(And of course I informed him that I'm not the one who discovered this, but that credits go to Treacle. :)

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Beautiful Soup » Mon Jan 09, 2017 7:16 pm

Cor, how interesting.

Mr Goodacre seems firmly convinced that this is just an error, but I can't help wondering if Carroll has done this intentionally, as a joke.

Gripping stuff, which I've never noticed before - Good spot Treacle!

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby The Queen of Hearts » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:36 am

Interesting catch, Treacle! Both the copies I usually read have "subtraction" and I usually reference the Definitive edition instead of the 1998 Annotated Alice so I've never noticed this before. I now feel inspired to pull out different editions to see how many might have "substraction" instead.

I'm with you Soup in wondering if Carroll did it intentionally as a joke, considering that the White Queen does view Alice "addressing" her as "a-dressing" her, although I'm not sure what the word confusion might have been with "subtraction". :?

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Treacle » Sat Jan 14, 2017 3:11 am

Does it at all pertain that the Mock Turtle, in AAiW, says the branches of Arithmetic are Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision? Perhaps "substraction" refers back to the earlier "distraction". (The White Queen stays distracted, and is a distraction.)

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Re: 'substraction': a portmanteu connected to the White Queen

Postby Beautiful Soup » Sat Jan 14, 2017 8:07 am

Sounds entirely plausible to me. I'd go as far to say it sounds quite convincing


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