Tuesday, June 15, 2010


From "Jabberwocky," in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There:

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

In Tim Burton's (wonderful, except for the too kewt bit at the end when Alice futterwackes, or however it's spelled) "Alice in Wonderland," the Hatter (is Johnny Depp the Jack Nicholson of our generation?) recites the first two stanzas of the poem (in a Scottish brogue), which is to say, he never gets to tulgey.

Tulgey means "thick, dense and dark." Possibly the author tossed turgid , bulging, bulgy, and ugly into a Mixmaster prototype, but the thing to keep in mind is that the word plays off whiffling.

He also never gets to galumphing, a word my mother has used all my life. My mother, who, it must be said, has made-up words for lots of things, uses galumphing in the later, non-exultant sense.

I was never taken with "Jabberwocky," but, this winter somebody recited it aloud to me and put a meta spin on the whole thing; so delivered as it was I liked the poem much more.


Anonymous said...

What about Teaghlach Wood? Do you think there could be a relation?

David Gordon

Elizabeth Manus said...


How I missed this comment from more than a year ago is beyond me....

I'm sorry!

Teaglach Wood . . . well.

First let's put aside the fact that it brings to mind the Rosh Hashanah (in my family pronounced something like Rush-shu-shanna) sweet known as taiglach--essentially: a shapely pile of nuts covered in honey.

And then I'll put aside the idea of reformed Jews (or possibly any Jewish people) actually living anywhere in Scotland, so that we can arrive in Scotland without much baggage.

This is an interesting connection, worth exploring. I think it will take just a wee bit of research into Mr Dogdson's life to see if there is any there there. Thank you for the suggestion.

Elizabeth Manus said...

Or even Mr. Dodgson's life.