Monday, October 16, 2006

Wharton, Theodore Roosevelt, and Lewis Carroll


Thirteen years after "Snark," Carroll published the first part of his novel "Sylvie and Bruno," in which the Professor begins reciting, "Once upon a time there was a Boojum— " and stops. "I forget the rest of the Fable," he admits. "And there was a lesson to be learned from it. I'm afraid I forget that, too." Many people in the real world have also forgotten. In her autobiography, Edith Wharton recounted a story about her friend Theodore Roosevelt, whose enthusiasm for "Snark" led to a farcical scene.

One day, Roosevelt admonished the secretary of the Navy, "Mr. Secretary, what I say three times is true!" And the less literate gentleman replied stiffly, "Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity." How Lewis Carroll would have chuckled over the ironies of posthumous fame.

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