A few Carroll letters at the Rosenbach: "a very small portion of brain"

The website Letters of Note has two Lewis Carroll correspondences up today, both to Isabel Seymour in 1869. They are part of the Rosenbach Museum & Library’s collection in Philadelphia, where the Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be holding its spring meeting on April 24th, 2010. (There’s also an installation by Sue Johnson inspired by Carroll and poet Marianne Moore at the Rosenbach up thru June.) The first letter is an apology for stealing Isabel’s train ticket:

The Chestnuts,
May 15, 1869

My dear Isabel,

Words cannot tell how horrified, terrified, petrified (everything ending with “fied,” including all my sisters here saying “fie!” when they heard of it) I was when I found that I had carried off your ticket to Guildford. I enquired directly I got there whether anything could be done, but found you must have arrived in London some time before I got here. So there was nothing to be done but tear my hair (there is almost none left now), weep, and surrender myself to the police.

I do hope you didn’t suffer any inconvenience on account of my forgetfulness, but you see you would talk so all the way (though I begged you not) that you drove everything out of my head, including the very small portion of brain that is usually to be found there.

Miss Lloyd will never forgive me for it—of that I feel certain. But I have some hope that after many years, when you see me, an aged man on crutches, hobbling to your door, the sternness of your features may relax for a moment, and, holding out the forefinger of your left hand, you may bring yourself to say, “All is forgotten and forgiven.”

I hardly dare ask what really happened at Paddington, whether the gentleman and lady, who were in the carriage, helped you out of the difficulty, or whether your maid had money enough, or whether you had to go to prison. If so, never mind: I’ll do my best to get you out, and at any rate you shant be executed.

Seriously, I am so sorry for it, and with all sorts of apologies, I am sincerely yours,

C. L. Dodgson

And there’s a second one at Letters of Note. Thank you Melissa Brice of Canary Promotion + Design for the tip.


Poet Marianne Moore & Lewis Carroll creatively combined in an exhibition by Sue Johnson at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum & Library

The Rosenbach Museum & Library’s Artist-in-Residence Sue Johnson has an original installation called Moore Adventures in Wonderland running from September 23rd, 2009, thru June 6th, 2010. The Rosenbach collection is highlighted with large archives by both Lewis Carroll and Marianne Moore, the witty American modernist poet, so Johnson’s installation sets out to explore the two writers’ connections. In her own words (quoted in last Friday’s Philadelphia Daily News):

Moore almost exclusively uses nature as her platform. She doesn’t people her poetry very often, and I felt a resonant chord with that. With Carroll, of course, it’s Alice’s adventures, but it’s Alice’s adventures with creatures that have been anthropomorphized. So I thought that there was a good conversation that could be had there between two creative people that I felt an affinity with.

Marianne Moore willed to the Rosenbach a room from her Greenwich Village apartment, which was then recreated on site. The exhibition is downstairs from the Moore living room, so Johnson played with the house’s layout and available looking-glasses above fireplace mantles: “I was thinking about going through the looking glass upstairs in the Moore room and landing downstairs in the room that I created. So it’s almost like watching an old filmstrip, where there’s a slippage of the film and you find yourself in another place, down the rabbit hole. I wanted people to be toggling back and forth between those spaces.” (also quoted from the Daily News, where there’s a further detailed description of the installation.)
The Rosenbach Museum & Library is at 2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, $5 for students and children; closed on Mondays. Too Many Thoughts to Chew: A [Maurice] Sendak Stew is showing simultaneously.
(The Lewis Carroll Society of North America will be meeting at the Rosenbach and viewing Sue Johnson’s installation on April 24, 2010. To learn more about the society, see www.lewiscarroll.org. As the meeting date gets closer, we will be posting additional information about our program that day on the society’s website. – from Clare Imholtz, LCSNA Secretary)

Arty Alice

Sue Johnson’s “Alice Redux” panorama will be on display at New York City’s Schroeder Romero/Winkleman Gallery Project Space through April 26. “The 20-foot-long panorama imagines Alice grown up and finding her way through a dream world cluttered by the flotsam and jetsam of modern consumer culture. Advertising images of everyday products appear alongside allusions to the Lewis Carroll tale, making the work a contemporary fantasia of incongruous imagery.” http://somd.com/news/headlines/2008/7363.shtml

A belated congratulations to Bryan Talbot: His Alice in Sunderland was placed on the shortlist for the British Science Fiction Association’s Best Novel award back in January. Winners will be announced at Eastercon this coming week: www.bsfa.co.uk/bsfa/website/awards.aspx.

Some of you may have read the review in the most recent Knight Letter about the Theatre Gajes (www.gajestheater.nl) “stilted” open air performance in Germany. The group recently toured in Toronto, where LCSNA member Tania Ianovskaia attended and took photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/bianovski/AliceNathanPhillipsSquare?authkey=PMdOt4f-P4o.

Last but not least, the one of the winners of the New York Times “Pi Day” (3/14) Poetry Contest (http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/17/contest-winners/) is Mike Keith’s Cadaeic Cadenza, in which each succeeding word of the poem has the same number of letters as the corresponding digit of pi… to the 3,835th digit! Section 3 of the poem is a strange, but clever parody of “Jabberwocky.” http://users.aol.com/s6sj7gt/cadtext.htm