In this illustrated edition of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark, master wood engraver George A. Walker provides an uproarious reinterpretation of the classic poem poem as seen through the convex lens of contemporary American politics.
Lewis Carroll was born on the 27th of January, 1832, as Charles Lutwidge Dogson at Daresbury in Cheshire, England. Carroll is best known for his children's books Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, which quickly became international successes and to this day inspire films, art, and research. Other famous works of his are the poems 'The Hunting of the Snark' and 'Jabberwocky'. Carroll had a prodigious talent in mathematics, logics, word play and philosophy, and he spent most of his life teaching mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford. He died at the age of sixty-five on January 14th, 1898, in Surrey, England. Today there are societies around the world-perhaps most notably The Lewis Carroll Society-dedicated to the study of his life and to the appreciation of his writings.
George A. Walker is an award-winning wood engraver, book artist and author whose courses in book arts and printmaking at OCAD University in Toronto, where he is Associate Professor, have been offered continuously since 1985. His artworks are held in collections ranging from the Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa), New York City and he has had over 15 solo exhibitions as well as been included in more than 100 group shows. Among many book projects-both trade and limited edition-Walker has illustrated 2 hand-printed books by internationally acclaimed author Neil Gaiman. Walker also illustrated the first Canadian edition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass, both published by the Cheshire Cat Press. The Cheshire Cat Press is a partnership between Andy Malcolm and George Walker which continues to publish limited edition books featuring the writing of Lewis Carroll.
George Walker was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Art in 2002 for his contribution to the cultural area of Book Arts. He is also a member of the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto where he was featured in a solo exhibition of his books and printmaking in the spring of 2019. Walker's latest book-length project presents the iconic life of Hollywood silent-film star Mary Pickford in a suite of 87 wood engravings.
There exists a certain kind of mind that is uncomfortable with ambiguity, nonsense, and the creative imagination. Such persons attempt to reduce the abstruse to some prosaic explication, which they then often insist is the only way to look at it, and surely was the original intent of the author, whose mind they know better than he or she did. This has frequently been the fate of the Snark and, for that matter, Carroll's two masterful Alice books, for those of limited intelligence (intellect, which such persons might possess in abundance, is another matter entirely) who 'read' the poem in their own idiosyncratic way. (Analogously, we in the States elected a man as our leader who sees things exactly as he wishes to see them and allows no such things as facts or truth to stand in his way.)
Contrariwise, as Tweedledee would say, more enlightened minds can rejoice in profound and perplexing-another term might be 'poetic'-works of art. Hermeneutics (the art of interpretation) can better be used to demonstrate how a text could be construed a certain way, thereby proving, with great humor and wisdom, just how infinite is its depth. Fortunately, we are in such hands with this present edition, which does not dictate but rather wittily utilizes illustrations to the poem to memorialize a moment in political time, the bewildering administration of Donald J. Trump and his cronies, by assigning caricatures of his staff to the expedition's crew.
As Ben Hecht put it in A Guide for the Bedevilled (1945), 'Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock.' Already at this writing some of the persons caricatured in this edition have left the administration-Anthony Scaramucci, Reince Priebus, and Stephen K. Bannon-but that does not affect George Walker's superb caricatures, nor this edition serving as an aide-mémoire of a baffling yet historic time.
-Mark Burstein, President Emeritus of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America