The books > Wasp in A Wig

Discuss Lewis Carroll's books "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" here!
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Wasp in A Wig

Postby jenny2write » Sun Sep 07, 2008 12:34 pm

I've been unable to find another thread for Wasp in a Wig so hope it's OK to start a new one. IMHO even English speakers do not usually succeed in copying or parodying Carroll, and that's why I believe that Wasp in a Wig is a clever fake, and not Carroll.

I have written my thoughts about it on suite 101, and I'll give the link below so as to avoid writing them all out in one big long post. But first here's the text to wasp in a Wig on Lenny's site.

http://www.alice-in-wonderland.net/alice4.html

I ask myself why this does not ring true to me? It has all the right ingredients, but yet there is no light heartedness and very little playfulness in it.

On the other hand Carroll DID pull something about a wasp in a wig, and Tenniel didn't like it so maybe this is the one Carroll got rid of because it was not up to scratch.....? DIS:-S

Puzzling.

Here are some of my further thoughts in the Suite 101 article. If anyone can't access it I'll happily re-post on the site, but I didn't want to make this post too long.
http://childrensbooks.suite101.com/arti ... p_in_a_wig

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NeVaR aSk
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Postby NeVaR aSk » Sun Sep 07, 2008 9:46 pm

^ Well it could be who knows… but if you read carefully again and agin (maybe you have) you will notice that the general tone/wordplay/nonsense came from Carroll’s way of thinking.
The wasp’s remark “let it stop there!” is a common expression of LC, also when he said to Alice about her eyes, been “so close together that she could be good with one instead of two”, is also Carroll’s.
I ask myself why this does not ring true to me? It has all the right ingredients, but yet there is no light heartedness and very little playfulness in it.
From my understandings, the “monotonous” feeling is because it repeats many themes/subjects that occurs in other chapters… there is nothing new or interesting. For instance, Alice already had a conversation with an unhappy insect (chapter 3), the Gnat. Alice face been criticized by the wasp reminiscence Humpty Dumpty’s (chap 6).
Her attempt to repair his “untidy” looks reminds also the event with the White Queen from chapter 5.
Also after the wasp episode in chap 9 (*I side the theory that it was intended as an episode, not to be alone as a chapter*) she talks with a frog, another male low class creature. Btw… it was a male wasp or “drone” from low class because is evidently in the way he talks… using “lower class” expressions such as “worrit”, “all along of” and also the fondness toward brown sugar that it was used mostly by “lower class” people.

Perhaps we can say that in this episode, LC cleverness/wit/creativity is not at the top as the other ones. But we have to remember also that LC had a book set to type before doing revisions… and if it was removed from the book before such revisions then this would explain why it seems with “little playfulness”.

On the other hand Carroll DID pull something about a wasp in a wig, and Tenniel didn't like it so maybe this is the one Carroll got rid of because it was not up to scratch.....? .
Or also, as you pointed out in your links, the lengthy aspect of it may incure in LC actions to cut it out… I mean, if the episode was added in chap 8 it will be a very long one… without it alone its the longest one. Or because it was “beyond the appliances of art” as JT said.

As you know, unfortunately no other galleys survived so we are force to depend on shady evidence :? .

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Postby °¤Moonlit Masque¤° » Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:21 pm

I don't know what to say about it...there's only a letter written by Tenniel which proves that Carroll actually wrote that chapter and sure that's not enough...I don't want to doubt that the chapter was written by Carroll, who knows? only I don't find it very interesting :| in my opinion it's a bit boring and clashing with the context...

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Postby jenny2write » Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:32 pm

yes a great opportunity for a forger - knowing the episode was there just waiting to be written maybe DIS:-) DIS:-)

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Mon Sep 08, 2008 12:53 am

I might be wrong, but I think that he put part of it in a letter to someone other than Tenniel or in his diary. Later when I get a chance I'll have to look through the two books it might be in.

Personally, I think that he did write it and that, as NeVaR aSk pointed out, it just included so many parallels to the prior chapters it was repetitive.

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Postby jenny2write » Mon Sep 08, 2008 7:29 am

Personally, I think that he did write it and that, as NeVaR aSk pointed out, it just included so many parallels to the prior chapters it was repetitive
that#s why I think it was a forgery. He thought up new things, all thru the rest of the book. But forgers can only copy what is there already!.

I'm looking at it from a forgers point of view here, "what can I put in this, oh I know, a bit of this a bit of that" etc. AIW:-)
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Postby NeVaR aSk » Mon Sep 08, 2008 9:42 pm

^ in your very first post you point out that “I believe that Wasp in a Wig is a clever fake, and not Carroll.”…

as I mentioned, from my understandings, it was LC ideas and writings… or if it was a forger then was a very intelligent/clever one… and not only that, one that knew a lot of carrollian wordplay/nonsense. And this part is somewhat shady cause imo Carroll was unique at this.

Can this “forger” could have come up with such ideas and comparisons to give life to a character in Wonderland (or TTLG in this case)??... I mean… for instance… LC wasp idea could have came from making fun at someone as he did with others characters in both books… as you well know, both books have “jokes” and appereances about people that Alice may have known.

Also it could came up from the yellow wasps in England… “yellow jackets” I think was the common term used. And the yellow handkerchief can be of the observation that most wasp have black heads with yellow stripes around it and adding the antennaes it would look like a handkerchief (a bit of imagination also is at play… obviously)… the antennaes are the end knot sticking up from the head.
I find very Carrollian also, the yellow color of the wig is associated in literature with autumn and old age… (there are quotes in some of his letters using yellow as symbol of age.).

Also the “forger” have to knew bout the chess theme, cause its very possible that LC use this kind of insect for its social structure… like in chess, there is a powerful queen and a somewhat harmless king. So the wasp, been a male (drone), resembles the king by his good-nature/peaceful manner… cause male wasp are not as fearcful as the female counterpart, most of them don’t sting (btw… at the time of his death, LC had a book about insects “A world of little wonders: or insects at home)… so maybe he used it has guide for this and other creatures of both books.
Yah I know the wasp’s temper but I think is cause of his acking bones and old age… not with the intentions of been bad/mischevious to her.

This and other links/attachments/comparisons makes evident that there is a very high possibility that it was wrote by LC… at least this is my very first impression. of course, one can’t discard the possibility of an unknown hand in the process, since such clever person could have existed… I mean… there is a lot of very intelligent people out there you know.
But for that further research needs to be done before pointing fingers…therefore my points mentioned above are to bare in mind when trying to find the best answer to this riddle :-) .

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Postby jenny2write » Mon Sep 08, 2008 10:45 pm

You make some good points. What can I say except that it's quite a subtle thing that I'm feeling about it. You know how you can get a 6th sense, but actually it's not really 6th sense it's just that you're noticing little tiny things all making something wrong.

Seems to me people are looking at what is THERE and saying "that's like Carroll wrote" . But they are not looking at waht's NOT there and saying "That's not like Carroll wrote." But consider it in this "looking glass style" and see where you get....

For instance at one point the text says "Alice didn’t catch the word exactly." Now usually she does hear the word. I can;'t think of another time when she doesn't catch the word. And then what happens if an unusual word's used, is that thre is a clever reason for drawing attention to that word. Carroll never did anything for no reason in these books.

So what's the point of drawing attention to the use of the word Conceit?

Despite what Martin Gardner says, this word doesn't PUN on "stiff neck". You can say someone is stiff necked when you mean conceited,but that's not a proper pun, it's a synonym. To make it funny there would have to be an additional and cleverer meaning. The other thing mentioned is toothache, but neither stiff neck nor conceit have anything to do with toothache. Why is such attention drawn to that word "conceit" then? No reason. It's just a word used in order to make a very weak and tortuous joke.

Sure they still do have jokes like this in christmas crackers and they had them in some Victorian magazines, but Carroll never made them, he was too smart.

So, something is NOT there when someting SHOULD be there, and that "something" is a clever play on words. Don't you agree that Alice is a classic because it takes nonsense and makes it clever and funny? So when that characteristic is taken away, it starts to seem wrong. .

There are other things of this type in the section, and they're whats adding up for me (or should I say subtracting from the whole) and screaming "FAKE". They're not all as obvious as this, but they're just ways of writing things that Carroll does not do in that sort of context.

I wonder if one reason this has been accepted as genuine by so many is that many commentators speak American English but anyone who does not speak British English as a first language might be more likely to miss the very subtle wrong feelings about the way this is written. Not for sure, but I do think it would perhaps be harder for non-Brits however sensitive they were to the use of language.

You are so right that it is very well done. If it is a forgery then I do think the forger was clever, successful forgers usually are. It's a real art. The paper has not been subjected to forensic analysis but I wouldn't be surprised if it was authentic paper of the period. But one thng a forger cannot do is get into someone else's mind. . They can write in the style of Carroll but they can't think in the same way he did.

Still many experts like Morton Cohen (a Canadian) is certain it is genuine for instance.

Anyway..........someone wrote (offline) to me and told me about a whole lot of stuff that's been privately printed about this so I'm going to get hold of a copy and read it with an open mind and think again.......haha.......see if I eat my words...watch this space.......... DIS:-)

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Postby jenny2write » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:32 pm

meant to say this "privately printed" is the Lewis Carroll society's Jabberwocky magaizne, issue 35, in case anyone has it. I dont but I will try to get hold of a copy

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Postby The Queen of Hearts » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:20 am

Conceit-
1. a: (1) a result of mental activity: thought (2) individual opinion, b: favorable opinion

2 a: a fanciful idea b: an elaborate or strained metaphor

3: A fancy article

In elaboration to definition 2: a far-fetched comparison between two seemingly unlike things; an extended metaphor that gains appeal from its unusual or extraordinary comparison.

To me the toothache seems to match up with the literary definition since it's a far fetched comparison.

Might there possibly be a hidden reference in the newspaper article as well? Ugggg!!! I wish I had more time to research further into this this week. AIW:-(

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Postby Lenny » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:08 am

If I remember correctly, the galleys they found contained notes / instructions on it in Carroll's handwriting.

You claim that the chapter is not up to standard to the rest of Carroll's story, and therefore it must be fake. Well, there is a reason he left it out :) Probably he agreed with Tenniel's remark that the chapter wasn't interesting enough to include it.

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Postby jenny2write » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:41 am

[quote="The

To me the toothache seems to match up with the literary definition since it's a far fetched comparison.
IW:-([/quote]

good point. but hmmmmmmm did it make you laugh?? seems that m,any people tried to copy Carroll but they cant get the mix right of nonsense, wit, double meanings, light touch etc. usually they miss out on the wit

.well thats why the books are classics and the copies arent....

So it has all the wrong feelings for me but maybe like i said at first he was just showing good taste in cutting it out ! DIS:-)

Jenny

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Postby jenny2write » Tue Sep 09, 2008 7:43 am

If I remember correctly, the galleys they found contained notes / instructions on it in Carroll's handwriting.
.
well thats another thing, the paper has never been given a forensic analysis and no handwriting expert has ever looked at the writing.... DIS:-/

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Postby Treacle » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:20 pm

The Wasp in the Wig is discussed in a few spots on the forum. I know that the LC societies took the Wasp seriously, and that the Borders edition of the Alice books incorporates the text as though it was always there. Barry Moser illustrated the Wasp segment separately in his TL-G. Smithsonian magazine devoted a cover illustration to its article on the Wasp. If it is a fake it impressed the big names at the time as being genuine. I may be able to help you with that if you like, since I collected the material as it came out.

Surprises have been rare but not out of the question in Carrollania, as when it was discovered that there was a photo of Alice Liddell hidden under the ink drawing on the last page of Alice's Adventures Under-ground.

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Postby jenny2write » Tue Sep 09, 2008 1:43 pm

The Wasp in the Wig is discussed in a few spots on the forum. I know that the LC societies took the Wasp seriously .
I went to the LCS meeting where Morton cohen mentioned the episode. He's totally convinced it's genuine but a number of other members shared my doubts. Perhaps you were also at that meeting? Morton said nothing to convince me, and didn't want to consider objections to his views - which seems usually to be the case with him. So there was no useful discussion, alas. . . just morton laying down the law.

. .
I may be able to help you with that if you like, since I collected the material as it came out..
Thanks - I would like to know what actual objective evidence exists- can you say? I mean, not me and not the experts giving their personal views, but actual real hard evidence. Has the paper been dated to the right period? is the ink constituted in the same way that carroll's ink was? .HAs the original seller come to light since that time and can the provenance be in any way authenticated? Did any other sale catalogues or documents of 1898 come to light in which this item was said to have existed right after carroll's death?

Is there in fact ANY objective evidence for its authenticity or is the whole thing "authenticated" on peoples' personal opinoins?

To me, the way the original seller not wanting to say anything about it, seems EXTREMELY strange. It would have enormously increased the value if he had done so. One has to ask why he or she chose not to give the item provenance. Also it wasn't exactly headlined in the catalogue either so presumably sothebys weren't too sure about it.

Well maybe I've just got a suspicious mind....

Anyway I said I am not sure, which is really why I started this thread, but my gut feeling is that it is not really Carroll and this is a brilliant fake. Fakes often are fantastic works of genius in their own right. . But one thing that a faker cannot fake is the way someone else looks at the world.
Jenny


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