Naxos has released composer Maurice Saylor’s “magnum opus” The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits, on CD and where all fine digital music files can be downloaded. You can hear the excellent Cantate Singers toss lines from Carroll’s poem around in a choral whirlwind, accompanied by Saylor’s Snark Pit-Band. The other tracks on the album, music Saylor wrote for silent films and played by The Snark Ensemble, are also really fun. Listen to excerpts ofAmazon’s mp3s (individual tracks for $0.89, or the whole album for $11.68), or buy from iTunes here. The Snark Ensemble pictured below, Maurice Saylor second from right:
There’s a new hidden object game proving popular in all the usual online fora. It’s called… The Hunting of the Snark. The story is a little adapted – obviously – and the party encounter two monsters who may or may not be Snarks. It’s a little confusing but the illustrations and sound effects are pleasantly weird and the whole thing takes about fifteen minutes to play.
The team that made it is called Long Leaf’s Friends and the main designer is a Polish illustrator called Navatika. From her resume: “My name is Navatika. Navatika is a paint-brush containing ninety hair. It contains ninety different points of view and ways of depicting the world, which can be distinguished and appreciated by experienced eye.”
How do you like front cover for the new paperback edition of Rethinking Maps: New Frontiers in Cartographic Theory? (Routledge, $44.95, greatly reduced from the $150.00 hardcover edition.) It pays homage to Henry Holiday’s famous “Ocean-Chart” illustration for Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark (1876), pictured below. (We might add a second question, Doesn’t it ruin the concept of the “perfect and absolute blank” to put something in it?) The collection of essays, edited by Martin Dodge, Rob Kitchen, and Chris Perkins, features such groundbreaking articles as “Cartographic representation and the construction of lived worlds: understanding cartographic practice as embodied knowledge” by Amy D. Propen.
He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.
“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!
“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best —
A perfect and absolute blank!”
Mike Batt’s The Hunting of the Snark is finally getting a U.S. release on July 12th on his own label Dramatico. The original 1980′s concept album featured Art Garfunkel, Roger Daltrey, George Harrison, Stephane Grappelli, Sir John Gielgud, John Hurt, Captain Sensible, Deniece Williams, Julian Lennon, Sir Cliff Richard and a kitchen sink. Mike Batt was interviewed last week by American Songwriter’s Evan Schlanksy, about his take on “Snark” and the history of the piece:
Give us an overview of The Hunting Of The Snark album.
I made this album in the early eighties, – purely on a whim, and having fallen in love with Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem. I wrote all new lyrics (and utilized his poem as narration between the songs). It’s a mad story of 10 characters who all go off looking for the SNARK, whatever it is, – and it is whatever you want it to be. Some might see it as money, some as religion, some as love, some as just a beast of flesh and blood. That’s what the album and subsequent stage show explore – the different points of view many people can take about the same thing. I made the album using the London Symphony Orchestra, and a great cast of stars, from Art Garfunkel to Roger Daltrey, Deniece Williams and even a cameo from George Harrison. It was a fantastic experience.
Why put it out now?
It’s never been out in the States – and in fact never had a full release in the UK either, way back, because of a dispute with the record company. I’ve now reacquired it and am issuing it on my own label, Dramatico. I think it is among my best work as a writer, arranger and orchestrator – and it would be a pity for it never to have seen the light of day.
Any favorite memories or interesting stories from the theatrical performance?
We played some fun concerts of it in Australia, – and also in the UK. Costumed concerts with the whole orchestra dressed up in nautical outfits, and the cast working in front of them, oratorio style. Then it progressed to the West End, like a full “Broadway” production. We had a 50 piece orchestra live on stage every night – so consequently we couldn’t afford to keep it on for long (7 weeks) but it was a hugely rewarding experience. We did things like plant dancers in the orchestra and so suddenly the cello section would start doing backflips, – we even had someone “fish” a viola player out of the orchestra from a bridge, above, using a fishing rod (and a flying harness!). It was totally insane.
Tell us how you went about putting the album together from a songwriting perspective.
I literally scored it straight onto full orchestral manuscript, starting with an empty page and working from front to end. It was before the days of Finale and Sibelius, so the good old 2B pencil and eraser were my tools. I had 3 months in which to write it, having given myself that deadline in order to perform it at an LSO concert I had been invited to conduct. I allowed myself a lot of freedom, but didn’t steal any lyrics from Lewis Carroll. I do, as I said earlier – quote him verbatim, as verse between the songs. I wanted to write something that was intriguing, originaland commercial. I think the fact that I was brought up on The Beatles has something to do with both my choice of subject matter and the whimsical quality of the songs.
Among all the projects you’ve worked on, what are some of your personal favorites? Which ones do people say moved them the most?
The play actually seems very intriguing, maybe it just wasn’t that reviewer’s clean cup of tea. The Trial of the Mariner is “an interactive, multimedia performance looking at the future of our oceans” inspired by both The Hunting of the Snark and S.T. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” “The year is 2111, and a group of desperate sailors embark on a voyage on the Ship of Fools. Lost at sea and mad with cabin fever, they arrive at the Plastic Continent of the Pacific Ocean Gyre, where the unhinged Mariner’s adventures come to life.” There’s still three more performances, closing on the 21st.
Here’s a nice YouTube video of Max Ernst’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Wunderhorn (“Miracle Horn,”) 1970, and “Die Jagd nach dem Schnark” (“The Hunting of the Snark,”) 1969. The music is “Oiseaux Exotiques” by Olivier Messiaen.
Assuming the filmmakers don’t meet with a Boojum, there will be a British stop-motion animation of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark released in 2012. Our very own Andrew Sellon (LCSNA President emeritus) recorded some voice over work, including the role of the Judge!
The Hunting of the Snark is an animated feature about a group of strange individuals that embark on a voyage with the aim of capturing “The Snark,” regardless of the fact that none of them even know what it is, or how to catch it, the film is directed by Saranne Bensusan with several other confirmed crew members.
Mahendra Singh’s beautiful new graphic novel version of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark got a Christmasy plug in The New Yorker’s blog Book Bench, in a post called “Holiday Gift Guide: For the Precocious Child.” “…Illustrated with delightfully surreal (and somewhat macabre) drawings,” writes Eileen Reynolds. “The language isn’t easy, of course, so save this book for the brightest and most adventurous young word-worms on your holiday shopping list.”
Over at Melville House’s blog MobyLives, Singh wrote a short essay about his creative process when approaching the illustration of the Bellman’s blank map. The original post is here, and I’ll quote in full:
A panel from Singh’s adaptation
The infamous Blank Map of the Bellman is proof positive that there was no Bellwoman forcing the Bellman to stop and ask for directions. It’s also a classic example of Carroll’s subversive sense of fun in the entire Snark.
The original illustrator of the poem, Henry Holiday, simply drew a blank map for this scene, a zen-like decision which really complicated my life when I set about drawing this panel.
Outsmarting Holiday would not be easy, but I had two advantages working for me in my quest to draw that celebrated blankness. First, this was going to be the world’s first, genuinely full-scale Surrealist Snark. Second, I am a shameless borrower of things which don’t belong to me.
Both the Snark and Surrealism involve a lot horsing around with the exact meanings of words and pictures, with interchanging them, combining them, sometimes even making their entire meaning softly and silently vanish away.
Henry Holiday’s Map of the Bellman
The Belgian Surrealist, Rene Magritte, was obsessed with this sort of game and his painting, “The Lover”, makes a perfect comment upon the Bellman’s Map. So, I just took it. Shameless on my part, yes, but there’s even more of that to come.
The map’s legend, “you are here” is literally true but what’s really shameless is my insistence that French is the language of the lost and confused when everyone knows that it’s really English. This is easily verified. Stand on a street corner in any big francophone city and ask a stranger: where am I? If necessary, pull at shirtsleeves and wave your arms, speak very slowly while carefully pronouncing every word at the utmost decibel level. I think you’ll quickly see what I mean.
Words, words, words! If only they had the decency to cover themselves up, like the Bellman & Company. They have no loyalty, they can’t be bothered to mean anything anymore, they’re shameless!
Rene Magritte’s “The Lovers”
Singh’s Snark is for sale on Amazon here, and more on The Hunting of the Snark around our website here.
There is Thingumbob shouting! Mahendra Singh’s beautiful new illustrated version of The Hunting of the Snark is being released tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2nd (and we refuse to make any Election Day analogies) from Melville House Publishing. You can still pre-order it today for $10.08 on Amazon with free shipping (where it’s listed as a “graphic novel,” although where is the line between a graphic novel and a book with many, many pictures and conversations?) Singh, an LCSNA member and an editor of the Knight Letter, has been blogging about the creative process of this book for years with tons of sneak-peaks of the art at justtheplaceforasnark.
In 1879, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson–a.k.a. Lewis Carroll–published the classic “nonsense” poem, The Hunting of the Snark. Though often outshined by Carroll’s prose works like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Snark is beloved by Carroll fans and has been adapted in numerous iterations since it was originally published.
In November, Melville House is publishing the latest iteration, a lovely new graphic novel edition of The Hunting of the Snark, illustrated by the artist Mahendra Singh. (Singh has been blogging about the process of adapting this famous work over at justtheplaceforasnark–I encourage anyone who considers themselves aficionados of Carroll or graphic novels to check it out. His commentary about the process is incredibly fun and often brilliant.)
When you’re publishing something that’s already so well known, there’s no shortage of adaptations and interpretations out there. Each tends to say something not just about the original work, but about the time and place it was adapted. Yesterday I found this wonderful audio clip of Boris Karloff doing a reading of Snark. It’s lovely to hear Karloff’s eloquent rendering, to let it take you back to his time as he ruminates on Carroll’s playful language, and get wrapped up in all the “nonsense”…
If you’re a fan of Lewis Carroll, Alice, the Snark, and you’re anywhere near the NYC area, you should check out the Eventspage of the LCSNA’s web site to see the full agenda for our fall meeting, to be held in Manhattan on Saturday, November 6th. The impressive roster of speakers includes noted author and critic Adam Gopnik, who will be discussing whether recent adaptations do or do not honor Lewis Carroll’s original works, as well as Carroll biographer Jenny Woolf, who is traveling over from England specifically for this event. Many of the speakers will be signing copies of their latest book(s), available in limited quantity at the meeting for a special 20% discount. There will be a three-course dinner at Josephina’s after the meeting, for the Carrollian cost of $42 per person.
In addition to the wonderful agenda posted on our site, we’ve just learned that member Mahendra Singh will also be on hand to sell and sign copies of his new edition of The Hunting of the Snark. This is a don’t miss meeting. It occurs on the weekend of the NY Marathan, however, so if you need accommodations, you should check with hotels (or local friends!) right away.
Please remember to let Secretary Clare Imholtz know if you plan to attend so that we can keep track of the headcount, as we expect a big turnout and seating is limited. You don’t need to be a member to attend our free meetings. We hope to see you there!