Monday, February 22, 2010

Literary truths: Carroll

"It would be so nice if something made sense for a change." - Alice

Here's a fun fact for all you fellow bibliophiles out there: Charles Ludwidge Dodgson never publicly acknowledged that he was also Lewis Carroll (of Alice in Wonderland fame). He seldom signed his books, and never gave away his portrait. Dodgson did acknowledge his pen name among his friends (especially in the letters to his child-friends which he signed with that name) but publicly denied any connection with the Alice books.

Hence, he regularly returned strangers' mail addressed to him as Lewis Carroll with a printed leaflet that asserted,
"Mr. Dodgson is so frequently addressed by strangers on the quite unauthorized assumption that he claims or at any rate acknowledges the authorship of books not published under his name, that he has found it necessary to print this, once and for all, as an answer to all such applications. He neither claims or acknowledges any connection with any pseudonym, or with any book that is not published under his own name." [Source]
Along with an interest in writing and religion, Carroll also enjoyed photography, but after 24 years of picture snapping gave up the hobby in 1880 allegedly because of gossip about and resistance to his photographing pre-pubescent girls in the nude. (Many historians and biographers speculate that Carroll was a pedophile, albeit a repressed and celibate one.) After 1880, Carroll continued drawing young girls in the nude. [Source]

"I always call him Lewis Carroll Carroll, because he was the first Humbert Humbert," novelist Vladimir Nabokov told Vogue magazine in 1966. (Humbert Humbert was the main character in Lolita, Nabokov's famous novel about an older man pursuing a relationship with a young girl.)

"Have you seen those photographs of him with little girls?" Nabokov said in the article. "He would make arrangements with aunts and mothers to take the children out. He was never caught, except by one girl who wrote about him when she was much older."


Nicole said...

I don't know what to say other than... weird... and kind of creepy. I never knew.

Anonymous said...

What a downer. I hate when I find out some of my favorite authors had a darker side. Guess that is what contributes to their artistic greatness.

Crystal said...

It is totally creepy. I had no idea about this till I started doing some research on him this week (I love "Alice in Wonderland", still do...but now I can't help but look at it a little bit differently...)

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