LitReading - Classic Short Stories

Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

Episode Summary

From the mind behind "Alice in Wonderland" comes one of the best examples of nonsense poetry. Jabberwocky tells the tale of a young knight who slays a mythical beast.

Episode Notes

Many decades ago, my first experience with public storytelling was in high school. My forensics – aka speech – coach persuaded a very reluctant hippy to attempt interpretation of poetry. In a small act of rebellion, I went against convention by interpreting one of history’s most bizarre poems, Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky from his 1871 book, Through the Looking Glass.

Jabberwocky suited both my personality and voice, providing me with an excellent opportunity to play with Carroll’s wonderfully warped words and create an emotional tale using a unique and unusual language.

Therefore, as the ideas for this podcast marinated in my mind, the piece that came "burbling" to the surface was this one.

Much of the language in Jabberwocky consists of what are called nonce words, in essence, created language for a singular use that take on meaning based on context:

For example, it’s evident that “manxsome” means something like fearsome and snicker-snack is apparently the sound of cutting.

Other words are defined throughout the rest of Through the Looking Glass:

Humpty-Dumpty explains that “brillig” is 4 pm, the time when you start broiling dinner, and “mimsy” means miserable and flimsy

Ah, those poor “borogoves” (a thin, shabby-looking bird with feathers sticking out all round, something like a live mop).