- Curiously, there are no bishops in the book, except here, however, this very subtle mention: bishops were once calls elephants, and in Russian still are.
- "'Oh, I liked it well enough--' (here came the favourite little toss of the head)...."
- The chorus on the train--like a musical or a Greek play--interests me (not the "pounds a ____," but its very presence). What do you make of it in the Alice context?
- (The passengers in the train coach are full of puns and suggestions of once-famous puns and rhymes.)
- An interesting combination: the gnat sighs, much like the lamenting wasp in the retracted "Wasp in a Wig" episode; there is a "shadow of a sigh" mentioned in the prefatory poem; trains are classic symbols of choice, change, and the relentless passage of time, and this train is also "traveling the wrong way" (a reversal, of course, but also a metaphor for Alice's growth away from Carroll); finally, remember that Alice, according to the conductor, has forgotten her name, which may correlate to the Red Queen's advice at the end of chapter 2. The gnat: "I know you are a friend, a dear friend, and an old friend. And you wo'n't hurt me, though I am an insect."
- If Carroll is the Gnat (which, considering the conversation, is, I think, inevitable), and we extend the characteristic adult-ishness of Wonderland to Looking-Glass House, then perhaps the fact the insects' silence where Alice comes from works on a level beyond the simple fact that, duh, bugs don't talk, at least not to children; and this then emphasizes Carroll's grief, where Carroll is so fundamentally different than the rest of his caste.
- The fantastic thing, at least for Carroll, of a secret place without names or labels is its utter anonymity. Here, nothing would prevent him from approaching Alice, especially in such form as an innocent fawn. Only on leaving would the fawn and the girl remember who they were and, as it happens and by necessary skittishness of the former, have to part (or is it not Carroll, but merely an analogue of the otherwise inevitable distance between human/wild animal and the impossibility of their continued relationship?). Note also that in its very beginning Eden must not have had names either. (This is another scene, so much like that of Alice's moment thinking favorably of the snow forever beyond the window, that touches my soul.) From Martin Gardner: The wood in which things have no name is in fact the universe itself, as it is apart from symbol-manipulating creatures who label portions of it because--as Alice earlier remarked with pragmatic wisdom-- "it's useful to the people that name them." The realization that the world by itself contains no signs--that there is no connection whatever between things and their names except by way of the mind that finds the tags useful--is by no means a trivial philosophic insight.
- All the issues with names, and Carroll's own split between writer Carroll and professor Dodgson!
|"My First Sermon," by John Everett Millais|