Monday, 2 February 2009

Wasp in a Wig

Carroll's 'Wasp in a Wig' chapter (I've never been persuaded as to the authentiticy of the fortuitiously discovered proofs perporting to be this lost Alice chapter): one reason it was dropped is this Tenniel letter to Carroll (June 1, 1870):
…I am bound to say that the "wasp" chapter doesn't interest me in the least, and I can’t see my way to a picture. If you want to shorten the book, I can’t help thinking – with all submission – that there is your opportunity.
Wikipedia reports the title was 'possibly a play on the commonplace expression bee in the bonnet'. Possibly, but I wonder if the allusion isn't more Aristophanic: 'wig', to a nineteenth-century individual, was as like as not to conjure up the image of a barrister. Maybe this suppressed piece cast a bewigged wasp as a Looking Glass sphēkes, the whole a satire on the legal world and its looking glass logic ...

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