Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Snark Map

It's nice to start a new year off on a clean slate so here is the map of the ocean from Lewis Carroll's nonsensical poem "The Hunting of the Snark."
The poem is divided into eight "fits"-  the map is described in the second.
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
   Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
   A map they could all understand.

"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators,
   Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?"
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   "They are merely conventional signs!

"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
   But we've got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best—
   A perfect and absolute blank!"
This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
   That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
   And that was to tingle his bell.

The poem was published on April Fool's Day in 1876. Artist Henry Holiday created nine illustrations for the poem, including the map. His text along the margins is interesting. Cardinal directions are as expected but the positions of the equator and poles are random. He also included geographic concepts such as Zenith, Nadir and Equinox as if they were places.

The entire poem can be found here.


Anonymous said...

I think that the "Ocean-Chart" might have been prepared by a type setter, not by Henry Holiday.

Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876) has been published “with nine illustrations by Henry Holiday” (as clearly stated in the front page of "The Hunting of the Snark"). But there are ten illustrations. One possible explanation: The Ocean-Chart (aka the Bellman’s map) has not been made by Henry Holiday and Joseph Swain. The map is a typographical illustration. In the Knight Letter #87, Doug Howick assumes that Lewis Carroll arranged that chart.

Dug said...

You may very well be right. However, according to Public Domain Review-linked here the tenth illustartion is of the Snark, which was rejected by Carroll because "he wanted the creature to be unimaginable."

Goetz Kluge said...

Then the rejected Boojum is the 11th illustration ;-)

There may be another map. John Tufail assumed that the night sky depicted in the the Snark front cover illustration could represent a map. His assumption helped me to find a painting which might have inspired Henry Holiday when he designed the front cover.

Independently from whether my own assamption is right or wrong, the map depicted in the "Ditchley Portrait" (by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger) perhaps could be a candidate for a map of the month in your blog.