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The Jabberwock, as illustrated by John Tenniel "Jabberwocky" is a nonsense verse poem written by Lewis Carroll in his 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The book tells of Alice's adventures within the back-to-front world of a looking glass. In a scene in which she is in conversation with the chess pieces White King and White Queen, Alice finds a book written in a seemingly unintelligible language. Realising that she is travelling through an inverted world, she recognises that the verse on the pages are written in mirror-writing. She holds a mirror to one of the poems, and reads the reflected verse of "Jabberwocky". She finds the nonsense verse as puzzling as the odd land she has walked into, later revealed as a dreamscape.
"Jabberwocky" is considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in English. Its playful, whimsical language has given us nonsense words and neologisms such as "galumphing" and "chortle".
 Roger Lancelyn Green suggests that "Jabberwocky" is a parody of the old German ballad "The Shepherd of the Giant Mountains" in which a shepherd kills a griffin that is attacking his sheep. Carroll wrote the first stanza to what would become "Jabberwocky" while in Croft on Tees. The rest of the poem was written during Lewis Carroll's stay with relatives at Whitburn. The concept of nonsense verse was not new to Carroll. And ye mome raths outgrabe. a periodical he wrote and illustrated for the amusement of his family. many years before the appearance of the Alice books. where he lived as a child. The ballad had been translated into English in blank verse by Lewis Carroll's cousin Menella Bute Smedley in 1846. and ye slythy toves Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe: All mimsy were ye borogoves. 1871 A decade before the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel Through the Looking Glass. who would have known of chapbooks such as The World Turned Upside Down and stories such as "The Great Panjundrum". some of which are called lying tales or lügenmarchen. The story may have been partly inspired by the local Sunderland area legend of the Lambton Worm. Palmer suggests that Carroll was inspired by a section from .Origin and publication Alice climbing through into the looking glass world. Historian Sean B. Nonsense existed in Shakespeare's work and was well-known in the brothers Grimm's fairytales. The piece was titled "Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry" and read: Twas bryllyg. close to nearby Darlington. Illustration by John Tenniel. and printed it in 1855 in Mischmasch. near Sunderland.
my son! The jaws that bite. And stood awhile in thought.Shakespeare's Hamlet. The illustration of the Jabberwock may reflect the contemporary Victorian obsession with natural history and the fast-evolving sciences of palaeontology and geology. the claws that catch! Beware the Jubjub bird. and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. Came whiffling through the tulgey wood. it is unsurprising that Tenniel gave the Jabberwock "the leathery wings of a pterodactyl and the long scaly neck and tail of a sauropod. such as those at the Crystal Palace from 1845. All mimsy were the borogoves. Scene i. All mimsy were the borogoves. citing the lines: "The graves stood tenantless. "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock? Come to my arms. And the mome raths outgrabe. and with its head He went galumphing back. two! and through and through The vorpal blade went snicker-snack! He left it dead. and shun The frumious Bandersnatch!" He took his vorpal sword in hand: Long time the manxome foe he sought— So rested he by the Tumtum tree. with eyes of flame. "Beware the Jabberwock. and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. 'Twas brillig. Stephen Prickett notes that in the context of Darwin and Mantell's publications and vast exhibitions of dinosaurs. ." Lexicon "Jabberwocky" 'Twas brillig. my beamish boy! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" He chortled in his joy. The Jabberwock. and his illustrations are still the defining images of the poem. two! One. and the sheeted dead/Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets" from Act I. And burbled as it came! One. And the mome raths outgrabe. And as in uffish thought he stood. John Tenniel reluctantly agreed to illustrate the book in 1871.
after all. For example. commenting that he did not know the specific meanings or sources of some of the words. In the author's note to the Christmas 1896 edition of Through the Looking-Glass Carroll writes. without intended explicit meaning.) 'Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don't exactly know what they are! However. so it may be well to give instructions on that point also. Carroll's personal commentary on several of the words differ from Humpty's. When Alice has finished reading the poem she gives her impressions: 'It seems very pretty. In January 1868. Pronounce 'slithy' as if . and What Alice Found There (1872). the character of Humpty Dumpty. In later writings he discussed some of his lexicon. "Have you any means. Carroll wrote to his publisher Macmillan.“ ” from Through the Looking-Glass. that she couldn't make it out at all. In Through the Looking-Glass. for printing a page or two of the next volume of Alice in reverse?" This may suggest that Carroll was wanting to print the whole poem in mirror writing. in response to Alice's request. even to herself. part of a dream. The appendices to certain Looking Glass editions. explains to her the non-sense words from the first stanza of the poem. An extended analysis of the poem and Carroll's commentary is given in the book The Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner. following the poem. long hind legs. and short horns like a stag. however. often without reference to Carroll's own contextual commentary. Later critics added their own interpretations of the lexicon. at any rate' This may reflect Carroll's intention for his readership. the linguistic ambiguity and uncertainty throughout both the book and the poem may largely be the point. or can you find any. "Jabberwocky" (UK English) Problems listening to this file? See media help. the poem is. have given rise to some differences of opinion as to their pronunciation. however. somebody killed something: that's clear. 'but it's rather hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess. asking. state that the creature is "a species of land turtle" that lived on swallows and oysters. "The new words. Macmillian responded that it would cost a great deal more to do. a "rath" is described by Humpty as "a sort of green pig". in the poem Jabberwocky. and this may have dissuaded him.' she said when she had finished it. Many of the words in the poem are playful nonce words of Carroll's own invention. Carroll's notes for the original in Mischmasch suggest a "rath" is "a species of Badger" that "lived chiefly on cheese" and had smooth white hair.
capable of extending its neck. the character of Humpty Dumpty comments: " 'Brillig' means four o'clock in the afternoon. If your thoughts incline ever so little towards 'fuming'. a perfectly balanced mind. Chortled: "Combination of 'chuckle' and 'snort'. you will say 'furious-fuming'. Now open your mouth and speak." Possible interpretations of words • Bandersnatch: A swift moving creature with snapping jaws. as in "writhe". you will say 'frumious'. it is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1530. although he didn't remember creating it." I have heard people try to give it the sound of the "o" in "worry. In Hunting of the Snark Carroll comments. Although Carroll may have believed he had coined this word. " 'borogove' is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round.'" In the Preface to The Hunting of the Snark. suggesting that a 'bandersnatch' might be an animal that hunts the leader of a group. 'murmer'. made their nests under sun-dials and lived on veal. Burbled: In a letter of December 1877. towards 'furious'. if they turn. Frumious: Combination of "fuming" and "furious". Beamish: Radiantly beaming. but leave it unsettled which you will say first. Carroll notes that "burble" could be a mixture of the three verbs 'bleat'. 'sly. the first "o" in "borogoves" is pronounced like the "o" in "borrow." According to Mischmasch. A 'bander' was also an archaic word for a 'leader'. you will say 'fuming-furious'." (OED) Frabjous: Possibly a blend of fair. Carroll says that the initial syllable of borogove is pronounced as in borrow rather than as in worry. Carroll wrote. something like a live mop. and "toves" is pronounced so as to rhyme with "groves. "[Let] me take this opportunity of answering a question that has often been asked me." Such is Human Perversity. Make up your mind that you will say both words." • • • • . beaks turned up. credited to Lewis Carroll. thee': make the 'g' hard in 'gyre' and 'gimble': and pronounce 'rath' to rhyme with 'bath. and joyous. happy. Definition from Oxford English Dictionary. Borogove: Following the poem Humpty Dumpty says. "[T]ake the two words 'fuming' and 'furious'. cheerful. how to pronounce "slithy toves.it were the two words." In explanatory book notes Carroll describes it further as "an extinct kind of Parrot. by even a hair's breadth. but if you have the rarest of gifts. fabulous." The "i" in "slithy" is long. They had no wings. the time when you begin broiling things for dinner. and 'warble'." Again. it is derived from the verb to bryl or broil.  • • • Brillig: Following the poem." In Hunting of the Snark.
the front forelegs curved out so that the animal walked on its knees. the mome raths are depicted as small. meaning a circular or spiral motion or form. there are two meanings packed up into one word. Head erect. smooth green body. Jabberwocky: When a class in the Girls' Latin School in Boston asked Carroll's permission to name their school magazine The Jabberwock. Carroll also wrote in Mischmasch that it meant to scratch like a dog. Mome rath: Humpty Dumpty says following the poem: "A 'rath' is a sort of green pig: but 'mome" I'm not certain about. The g is pronounced like the /g/ in gold. A portmanteau of "manly" and "buxom". he replied: "The Anglo-Saxon word 'wocer' or 'wocor' signifies 'offspring' or 'fruit'." Gyre: "To 'gyre' is to go round and round like a gyroscope.• Galumphing: Perhaps used in the poem a blend of 'gallop' and 'triumphant'. 'Lithe' is the same as 'active'. I think it's short for 'from home'. It might make reference to the call of the bird resembling the sound "jub. 'Jub' is an ancient word for a jerkin or a dialect word for the trot of a horse (OED). However. or relating to Manx people. the latter relating to men for most of its history. especially a giant circular oceanic surface current." In the 1951 animated film adaptation of the book's prequel. Mimsy: " 'Mimsy' is 'flimsy and miserable' ".  • • • • • • • • • Slithy: Humpty Dumpty says: " 'Slithy' means 'lithe and slimy'. Taking 'jabber' in its ordinary acceptation of 'excited and voluble discussion. connected with the old verb to 'grike' or 'shrike'. as in writhe. not like gem. Used later by Kipling. . jub". You see it's like a portmanteau. meaning that they'd lost their way"." Gyre is entered in the OED from 1420. with a kind of sneeze in the middle".'" Jubjub bird: 'A desperate bird that lives in perpetual passion'. and long legs resembling pipe stems. Manxome: Possibly 'fearsome'. mouth like a shark. which derived 'shriek' and 'creak' and hence 'squeak'." The original in MischMasch notes that 'slithy' means "smooth and active" The i is long. lived on swallows and oysters. long hind legs. and cited by Webster as "To move with a clumsy and heavy tread" Gimble:"To make holes as does a gimlet. according to the Butcher in Carroll's later poem The Hunting of the Snark. Carroll's book appendices suggest it is the past tense of the verb to 'outgribe'. and short horns like a stag [and] lived chiefly on cheese" Explanatory book notes comment that 'Mome' means to seem 'grave' and a 'Rath': is "a species of land turtle. Carroll's notes for the original in Mischmasch state: "a species of Badger [which] had smooth white hair. round eyes. Outgrabe: Humpty says " 'outgribing' is something between bellowing and whistling. multi-colored creatures with tufty hair.
dense. The linguist Lucas believes the "nonsense" term is inaccurate. [. Could be taken to mean thick.. Tove: Humpty Dumpty says " 'Toves' are something like badgers. the manner roughish. English syntax and poetic forms are observed. 1871 Although the poem contains many nonsensical words.• • Snicker-snack: possibly related to the large knife. In the original MischMasch text. they're something like lizards. allowing the reader to infer meaning and therefore engage with narrative while lexical allusions swim under the surface of the poem. also they live on cheese.e. such as the quatrain verses. Linguistics and poetics Humpty Dumpty who explains to Alice the definitions of some of the words in "Jabberwocky".. rotate and bore. called a 'wa-be' because it "goes a long way before it. ." Pronounced so as to rhyme with groves. though it has been noted that it can be formed by taking letters alternately from "verbal" and "gospel". and they're something like corkscrews.  • • • • Wabe: The characters in the poem suggest it means "The grass plot around a sundial". and the temper huffish". Tulgey: Carroll himself said he could give no source for Tulgey." i. The poem relies on a distortion of sense rather than "non-sense". dark. They "gyre and gimble. the general abab rhyme scheme and the iambic meter.] Also they make their nests under sun-dials. Illustration by John Tenniel. Vorpal: Carroll said he could not explain this word. the snickersnee. Uffish: Carroll noted "It seemed to suggest a state of mind when the voice is gruffish. Carroll states a 'wabe' is "the side of a hill (from its being soaked by rain)". and a long way behind it".
like the poem's hero. alliteration. surreal quality. She argues that Humpty tries. after the recitation. there are also parallels with the work of Gerard Manley Hopkins in the high use of soundplay. It is a difficult task because the poem holds to English syntax and many of the principal words of the poem are invented. "Jabberwocky" has been translated into many languages. Parsons suggests that this is mirrored in the prosody of the poem: in the tussle between the tetrameter in the first three lines of each stanza and trimeter in the last lines. Carroll's grave playfulness has been compared with that of the poet Edward Lear. such that one undercuts the other and we are left off balance. "You are old. And the mome raths outgrabe. Lucas suggests that the original poems provide a strong container but Carroll's works are famous precisely because of their random. Translations Twas brilig. The poems' success do not rely on any recognition or association of the poems they parody.Parsons describes the work as a "semiotic catastrophe". and this is certainly the case with "Jabberwocky". twinkle little bat". to "ground" the unruly multiplicities of meaning with definitions. Carroll wrote many poem parodies such as "Twinkle. Translators have generally dealt with them by creating equivalent words of their own. father William" and "How doth the little crocodile?" They have become generally more well known than the originals they are based on. Both writers were Carroll's contemporaries. although the reader cannot know what they symbolise. All mimsy were the borogoves. and the slithy toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe. created-language and portmanteau. arguing that the words create a discernible narrative within the structure of the poem. Often these are similar . but cannot succeed as both the book and the poem are playgrounds for the "carnivalised aspect of language".
According to Chesterton and Green and others. through Humpty Dumpty. translated the work into Bengali and concrete poet Augusto de Campos created a Brazilian Portuguese version. Hofstadter also notes that it makes a great difference whether the poem is translated in isolation or as part of a translation of the novel. but eventually became the subject of pedestrian translation or explanation and incorporated into classroom learning. It was designed as verse showing how not to write verse. "'Twas brillig" becomes "Il brilgue". a Chinese linguist. "Brandashmyg" for "Bandersnatch" while "myumsiki" ("мюмзики") echoes "mimsy". translated the poem into Chinese by inventing characters to imitate what Rob Gifford of National Public Radio refers to as the "slithy toves that gyred and gimbled in the wabe of Carroll's original". In Frank L. evokes French words like 'lubrifier' (to lubricate) in order to give an impression of a meaning similar to that of Carroll's word. perhaps)? ". "even in this pathologically difficult case of translation.in spelling or sound to Carroll's while respecting the morphology of the language they are being translated into. there seems to be some rough equivalence obtainable. In his exploration of the translation challenge. Reception "Jabberwocky" (US English) Problems listening to this file? See media help. There is also an Arabic translation by Wael Al-Mahdi. 'slither'.G. supply explanations of the invented words. 'lithe' and 'sly'. Satyajit Ray. A French translation that uses 'lubricilleux' for 'slithy'. a film-maker. the original purpose of "Jabberwocky" was to satirize both pretentious verse and ignorant literary critics. between the brains of all the readers". In 1967. Douglas Hofstadter noted in his essay "Translations of Jabberwocky". he suggests. but not necessarily ones with similar meanings. rather than earthy and Anglo-Saxon ('slithy')? Perhaps 'huilasse' would be better than 'lubricilleux'? Or does the Latin origin of the word 'lubricilleux' not make itself felt to a speaker of French in the way that it would if it were an English word ('lubricilious'. In the latter case the translator must. for example. Full translations of "Jabberwocky" into French and German can be found in The Annotated Alice along with a discussion of why some translation decisions were made. Translators have invented words which draw on root words with meanings similar to the English roots used by Carroll. echoes the English 'slimy'. the word 'slithy'. D. a kind of rough isomorphism. It has also been interpreted as a parody of contemporary Oxford scholarship and specifically the story of how Benjamin Jowett. Hofstadter asks "what if a word does exist. Warrin's French translation. but it is very intellectual-sounding and Latinate ('lubricilleux'). But. She translated "Barmaglot" for "Jabberwock". and at least two into Croatian. the notoriously agnostic . 'slippery'. partly local. both the original and the invented words echo actual words of Carroll's lexicon. In instances like this. Orlovskaya wrote a popular Russian translation of "Jabberwocky" entitled "Barmaglot" ("Бармаглот"). Chao Yuen Ren. Multiple translations into Latin were made within the first weeks of Carroll's original publication. partly global.
The stage musical Jabberwocky by Andrew Kay. "Poor. she has been forced to inflict lessons on others. who wrote in 1932. Azoulay or the poem "Oh Freddled Gruntbuggly" recited by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz in Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. The son takes his sword and goes out looking for these creatures. follows the basic plot of the poem. Written by Don Raye and Gene de Paul. and . and create their own words for it as in "Strunklemiss" by S." It is often now cited as one of the greatest nonsense poems written in the English language. to be sung by Stan Freberg with the Rhythmaires and Daws Butler. The word "jabberwocky" itself has come to refer to non-sense language. There's also some other nasty stuff out there – the "Jubjub bird" (7) and the "Bandersnatch" (8). little Alice! She has not only been caught and made to do lessons. and Master of Balliol. the source for countless parodies and tributes. poor. but a demo recording was included in the 2004 and 2010 DVD releases of the movie.wikipedia. see if I don't! Some of the words that Carroll created such as "chortled" and "galumphing" have entered the English language and are listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. as in Frank Jacobs's "If Lewis Carroll Were a Hollywood Press Agent in the Thirties" in Mad for Better or Verse.org/wiki/Jabberwocky Jabberwocky Summary The poem begins with a description of the setting – an afternoon. we have some dialogue. as an Anglican statement of faith. A song called "Beware the Jabberwock" was written for Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951). Groop I implore thee my foonting turlingdromes And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles. "raths" ) milling around and making noises. came to sign the Thirty-Nine Articles. it was a musical rendition of the "Jabberwocky" verse. K. K. nonsense-creatures ("borogoves" . A father tells his son to beware of something called a "Jabberwocky" that lurks in the woods and has horrible claws and teeth. Chesterton. a book which contains numerous other references and homages to Carroll's work.Professor of Greek at Oxford. much like a sonnet. In most cases the writers have changed the non-sense words into words relating to the parodied subject. to save his job. The song was not included in the final film. was in a large part predicted by G. Then. The transformation of audience perception from satire to seriousness. Malcolm Middleton and Peter Phillips. http://en. Other writers use the poem as a form. with strange. Or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon. Oh freddled gruntbuggly thy micturations are to me As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee.
and things appear to return back to normal. the father is overjoyed and they celebrate.html . The first stanza repeats.shmoop.finally finds and kills the Jabberwocky.com/jabberwocky/summary. http://www. Upon returning with the creature's head.