The books > AAIW - The lobster quadrille

Discuss Lewis Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" here!
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AAIW - The lobster quadrille

Postby kyliem » Fri May 17, 2019 9:56 am

“'The reason is,' said the Gryphon, 'that they would go with the lobsters to the dance. So they got thrown out to sea. So they had to fall a long way. So they got their tails fast in their mouths. So they couldn't get them out again. That's all.'”

I cannot understand how falling a long way results in their tails ending up in their mouths.

I would be so grateful if someone could explain this to me please!

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Re: AAIW - The lobster quadrille

Postby Beautiful Soup » Fri May 17, 2019 4:42 pm

I believe this is whimsical Wonderland reasoning to describe a real world phenomenon. Apparently, in Carroll's day, whiting were sold and cooked with their bodies twisted into a circle and their tails tucked in at the head end.

From Martin Gardner's Annotated Alice:
"When I wrote that," Carroll is quoted as saying (in Stuart Collingwood's
The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll , page 402), "I believed that whiting
really did have their tails in their mouths, but I have since been told that
fishmongers put the tail through the eye, not in the mouth at all."

A reader who signed her name only with "Alice" sent me a clipping of
a letter from Craig Claiborne that appeared in The New Yorker (February
15, 1993). He describes a French dish known as merlan en colere or
"whiting in anger," prepared by "twisting the fish into a circle and tying or
otherwise securing the tail in its mouth. It is then deep-fried (not boiled) and
served with parsley, lemon, and tartar sauce. When it is served hot, it has a
distinctly choleric, or irascible, appearance."

I think the reason the Gryphon's explanation makes no sense is because it is in fact nonsense.

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Re: AAIW - The lobster quadrille

Postby kyliem » Sun May 19, 2019 10:56 am

Many, many thanks for your kind and very helpful post!

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