Sunday, 25 June 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf - The Wasp in a Wig

I didn’t read a lot while I was on my blogging break, but I did take a look at this rather strange “suppressed” episode from Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.
The Wasp in a Wig Lewis Carroll Alice Through the looking glass

Back in 1898 Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, a nephew of Lewis Carroll published a biography of his uncle in which he wrote;  
“The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll by Stuart Dodgson Collingwood from The Wasp in a Wig, Martin Gardner and Macmillan 1977.”

A facsimile of the letter also appeared in the biography.; 


“My Dear Dodgson 

Don’t think me brutal, but I am bound to say that the ‘wasp’ chapter does not interest me in the least, and I can’t see my way to a picture. If you want to shorten the book, I can’t help thinking – with all submission – that this is your opportunity.  
In an agony of haste, 

Yours sincerely, J. Tenniel
Portsdown Road,June 1, 1870”


Then in 1974 Sotheby's listed the following item in their auction catalogue of July 3rd;

 “Auction catalogue entry: The Wasp in a Wig; Martin Gardner and Macmillan 1977.”
This was an important discovery. Carroll left no record of his own opinion of the episode, but he did preserve the proofs and after his death in 1898, they were bought by an unknown person. Then in 1974 they were put up for auction at Sotheby's and purchased by John Fleming, a Manhattan rare book dealer, for Norman Armour, Jr., also of New York City. Eventually, the excised passage came into the hands of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, who prepared a private edition of the book for their members. The copy I have was published by Macmillan, London in 1977. 

The excised passage is quite short, but the book still manages to run to forty pages most of which are taken up with notes, a preface and an introduction by Martin Gardner.
  
The episode itself is all rather odd. In it, Alice meets an elderly and very crotchety wasp who is none too pleased to speak to her. “Worrity, Worrity! There never was such a child!” he declares and feeling rather offended Alice very nearly walks away but being a kind child she stays and gradually the wasp tells her his story. "You'd be cross too, if you'd a wig like mine," the Wasp tells her "When I was young, you know, my ringlets used to wave ---" As the wasp talked a curious idea came into Alice's head. Almost everyone she met had repeated poetry to her, and she thought she would try if the Wasp couldn't do it too. "It aint wat I'm used to," said the Wasp : "however I'll try; wait a bit."


“When I was young, my ringlets waved
And curled and crinkled on my head:
And then they said ‘You should be shaved,
And wear a yellow wig instead.’

But when I followed their advice,
And they had noticed the effect,
They said I did not look so nice
As they had ventured to expect.

They said it did not fit, and so
It made me look extremely plain:
But what was I to do, you know?
My ringlets would not grow again.

So now that I am old and grey,
And all my hair is nearly gone,
They take my wig from me and say
‘How can you put such rubbish on?’

And still, whenever I appear,
They hoot at me and call me ‘Pig!’
And that is why they do it, dear,
Because I wear a yellow wig.”

As I said previously, all rather odd but then much of Lewis Carroll’s writing is. If you would like to read the episode in its entirety, please visit: The lost chapter at Alice-in-wonderland.net

There is some controversy surrounding this ‘missing’ episode with questions raised about its authenticity. I have no idea if it’s genuine or not, but if you would like to read more, please visit Contrariwise; The Blog  

Have you read The Wasp in a Wig or any other books by Lewis Carroll?


References:
Lewis Carroll's The Wasp in a Wig. A "Suppressed" Episode of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Preface, Introduction and Notes by Martin Gardner. Published in Great Britain in 1977 by Macmillan London Limited.
Sotheby's auction catalogue for a sale on the 3rd July, 1974.
The Curious Case of the Wasp in the Wig.” Contrariwise: the Blog. Contrariwise: the Association for new Lewis Carroll Studies, 16 Jun 2010.  Web. 28 Apr. 2013.
de Rooy, Lenny. “The Lost Chapter.” Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland Site. N.p., 20 Nov 2010.
Gardner, Martin. The Annotated Alice. Definitive. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000.  


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These two little girls probably thought they were in Wonderland the other evening;

This is Lilly our five-year-old granddaughter watching Frozen On Ice at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre

and this is her big sister Zoe 

This (in case you don’t know) is Marshmallow an enchanted snowman, and personal bodyguard of Elsa the Snow Queen.

Elsa and Anna


Kristoff and Sven the reindeer


Olaf 





Face painting and photographs by Karen (our lovely daughter in law and mum to the girls). We are planning a trip to Australia in 2018 and can't wait to see everyone. The photos from their last visit to England are here and here


52 comments:

  1. I loved all your photos, Barbara! And this book looks delightful!

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  2. Lovely photos of those 2 cuties enjoying 'Frozen', it seems to magnetize kids world-wide. Great read about the not published chapter of Alice, off to have a look at it! Have a great, new week, hugs, Valerie

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    1. The girls just love Frozen! I can't tell you how many times we watched the film when they visited us in England. Their grandad and I knew the words to all the songs when they went back to Australia. ☺

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  3. Never knew about this suppressed Episode.
    Olaf is so cute.

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    1. Olaf is super cute and the girls just love him.

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  4. I grew up on a diet of Lewis Carroll (among others) and hadn't heard of this snippet. Thank you for the education.
    Love the photos too. Such cuties.

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    1. I had only heard of it because I sold a couple of copies back in my book dealing days. I hadn’t read it, so I was glad to find it again.

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  5. I bet your grandkids had a grand time!
    Not familiar with the wasp portion of the story. Yes, most of what Carroll wrote was odd. That's what drugs will do to you.

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    1. I’m not sure about the drugs perhaps he enjoyed one or two ‘magic’ mushrooms just as Alice did! :)

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  6. How fascinating! A literary mystery! I'd never heard of the 'suppressed' episode, although 'Through the Looking Glass' is one of my favourite books. Having read it, I'm glad it was left out. It's not up to the standard of the rest, and the poem doesn't scan.

    I'm not sure whether it's genuine or not. All authors have off days, so maybe it is. We'll probably never know.

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    1. Hello Sue, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, are odd in a good way. This portion is just odd, and I agree about the poem – it worries me because it doesn’t really scan at all.

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  7. Never heard of The wasp in the Wig, very interesting.

    Looks like your grandchildren were having lovely time

    Julie xxxxxxxx

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    1. Hello Julie, the girls were total engrossed and joined in with all the singing. Our daughter in law took several videos of them so that we could share in the excitement. xx

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  8. Oh my goodness! I didn't know there was a missing chapter. This is so exciting! It is quite strange, but as you said, so is the rest of the book.

    Have a wonderful week, dear Barbara xx

    Your granddaughters are so pretty. I love their face paint and they both look mesmerized by Frozen on ice (Olaf is my favourite).

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    1. Hello Yvonne, Another one to add to your list of ‘must find’ books perhaps?

      They both adore frozen so this was a really big treat for them.

      Barbara xx

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  9. Dearest Barbara, hello!

    First of all, to see that the famous and talented Lewis Carroll had to endure this kind of critique and rejection is "refreshing" and a good reminder that not all of what we attempt to create will please or "make it." I love finding out about the things that do not make it into what we consider the classics!

    And the grand girls, what a dream for a child (and adults!) to not only see such a show, but to dress up and imagine.....lovely, icy colors for this hot summer season!

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    1. Hello Anita, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read ‘Alice’ and ‘Through the looking glass’ and I never think they are anything less than brilliant, but this chapter is really very strange.

      Karen tells me the girls were mesmerized from beginning to end so I’m quite sure they will never forget it. xx

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  10. The photos of your grandchild are just wonderful. What a fun time they must have had at Frozen on Ice. It's great that your daughter in law sends the photos along for you to enjoy also. I miss those days of taking my Kiddo to see shows like that.

    I had no idea there was a lost chapter to Alice in Wonderland. And yes, that passage is odd. When I read wig, I immediately thought of Marie Antoinette, since she is always depicted in a huge wig, as was the style of the times among the rich. Still I enjoyed hearing all about this. Thanks for sharing it, and its history.

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    1. Hello Alex, Karen is determined to include us in everything they do, which is really lovely of her considering how far apart we all are.

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed finding out about the wasp (and his wig!)

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  11. I had no idea there was a deleted section of the story.
    The girls are such darlings and that looks to be the best ice-capade ever!

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    1. I'm pretty sure Zoe and Lilly would agree with you Sandra.
      Thanks for coming over.

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  12. Oh I just loved the photographs of your two grand-daughters.
    Our youngest grand-daughter absolutely adores anything 'Frozen' it really has captured her and so many others world wide.

    2018 will be here before you know it, how lovely a trip to Australia to see and spend time with family.

    Enjoy your week

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hello Jan, I’ve yet to meet a little girl who doesn’t love Frozen, (and this big girl loves it too!)
      Thank you for your sweet comment and I hope your week is going well. xx

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  13. Dear Barbara - your photos of your granddaughters were wonderful. That ice show looks like such great fun. What an interesting thought about the deleted portion of this book. Always so fun to learn something new along the way. So glad you shared. Hope you have a blessed day. Hugs!

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    1. Zoe and Lilly loved the ice show, and we loved seeing all the photos. I'm glad you enjoyed them too.
      Hugs back to you. x

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  14. Zoe and Lilly are GORGEOUS- must be some of your DNA... I am a longtime fan of Alice and Through the Looking Glass. I remember having copies of The Wasp and the Wig- I sold them all. Isn't it funny how we are catching up on reading books we were to busy to read when we were finding and selling them? Lovely post, Barbara. Zoe and Lilly really are enchanting little creatures...

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    1. Hello lovely Colleen, thank you for being such a loyal visitor to my blog. The girls must have a little of my DNA, but I really can’t take any credit for their beauty that is entirely down to their mummy and daddy (a good-looking pair if ever you saw one)
      I don’t know about you, but I’m enjoying finding these books and getting to keep them. I rather wish I had done more of that previously. Hugs to you dear friend.

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    2. YES! There are so many books that I wish I had kept,now. Even reading copies of some authors are hard to come by . However, it is not as if I do not have many, many books to enjoy! Also, it is still fun to find the illusive title every now and then....

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  15. Great pictures of the girls enjoying Frozen. Seems all little girls love Frozen these days! Interesting about the missing chapter and cool you found a copy of it.

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    1. Zoe and Lilly certainly loved the film, and it looks as though they enjoyed the ice show every bit as much. The songs are great and naturally the girls had us singing them when they came to stay with us last year! :)

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  16. My daughter is a Lewis Carroll fan, so I forwarded her your link.
    Have a great one.

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    1. Thanks Sandra, I hope your daughter enjoys it.

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  17. I'd never heard about this suppressed episode. How interesting! Loved seeing the girls with their face paint. So adorable.

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  18. This is fascinating, always so wonderful to find lost works of the great writers and you did a great job researching it. You're right, the story seems a bit strange but it fits right in with much of his writing. Barbara, the pictures of your granddaughters are beautiful, they look enchanted. I'm happy to hear you are planning a trip to Australia next year, something special to look forward to. :)

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    1. Thank you for saying that Marcia, but I can’t take any of the credit. It was all down to Martin Gardner.
      We are both very excited about seeing the family again. It will be just about two years since we were last together so lots of catching up to do. :)

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  19. Your grand daughters are so precious!! Love the photos!! Never heard of The wasp in the Wig, very interesting!!!

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  20. Wow! Thank you for bringing this little gem to our attention. I'll certainly be visiting the site as soon as I'm able.

    Such pretty granddaughters. The looks on their faces precious.

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    1. I'm sure you would find the sites interesting. Thanks for your sweet comment about our little granddaughters.

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  21. Love the illustration, the wasp looks rather sad and the girls look gorgeous xx

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  22. The poor old wasp is sad, not only has he of lots of aches and pains, but his wig won't stay put. Poor chap I know just how he feels – well apart from the wig! :-) xx

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  23. Beautiful girls :)

    I liked the illustrations. Thanks for bringing us this interesting post.

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    1. My pleasure. Thank you for taking a look.

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  24. I'd not heard of The Wasp in a Wig before, never mind read it. It's quite a funny title really!

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    1. Hi Nikki, I agree it is funny if a little odd. :)

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  25. Very beautiful photos of your little princesses :)

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  26. Very interesting to know about the missing chapter Barbara. I must read that book. Love the pictures of your grand kids and how exciting for you that you are planning to go and see them next year.

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    1. We’ve booked the flights so it’s all systems go – but not until 2018, we booked early to get the best price.
      Glad you enjoyed hearing about the wasp in a wig.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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