“THE ODYSSEY OF THE NONSENSICAL”: FIRST EDITION OF LEWIS CARROLL’S HUNTING OF THE SNARK
CARROLL, Lewis. The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits. London: MacMillan, 1876. Small octavo, original black-stamped buff pictorial cloth, black endpapers, all edges gilt. $1500.
First edition of Carroll’s mirthful, masterful verses on “the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature,” illustrated with nine splendid wood-engravings by Henry Holiday.
Originally intended for inclusion in Sylvie and Bruno, Carroll's continually expanding work on The Hunting of the Snark justified its separate publication in 1876. "The poem describes with infinite humor the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature. It has been called the 'Odyssey of the Nonsensical,' 'a masterpiece with more nonsense to the foot than could be found in an acre of lesser stuff… The illustrations are noteworthy as a triumph of art over almost intractable material" (Williams & Madan). Illustrator Henry Holiday had actually made a picture of the Snark, but Carroll rejected it, saying "it was a beautiful beast, but he had made the Snark strictly unimaginable and desired him to remain so." A small number of copies were issued in colored cloth (red, dark blue, green, etc.), with the pictorial decoration in gilt, but most were bound in buff cloth with decoration in black, as this copy. Williams & Madan 115.
A near-fine copy.