THE SEMANTICS AND SEMIOTICS OF SHARPENING A SPADE: A POSSIBLE EXPLANATION OF CARROLL’S THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK, LINE 273


Posted On Dec 11 2017 by

When the crew of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark is making preparations for seeking that impossible creature, we read that “the Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade”. This action is so outlandish that the editor and commentator Martin Gardner remarks ad locum: “Why in the world were they sharpening a spade?” (Gardner 2006: 44.)
The main objective of this article is to answer this question posed by Gardner. To achieve this, we will perform a philological analysis of any possible locus similis throughout Carroll’s works, and we will study all matches we will find in the light of semantics, semiotics, and transtextuality.
Our main hypothesis is that the sharpening of the spade, besides being both a pun and an anticipation of the Baker’s fate —and we will also provide insight in both these matters— is in reality what Barthes calls “détail concret” and its function in The Hunting of the Snark is to underline the possibility of an existentialist/metaphysical reading of the poem.

Last Updated on: December 11th, 2017 at 1:06 P, by admin


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