Yesterday was the birthday of Lewis Carroll, pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born on 27 January 1832.
The author of the children’s classics “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and its sequel “Through the Looking-Glass”, was also a mathematician, a photographer, an inventor, and an Anglican deacon (1).
The last novel he published during his lifetime was “Sylvie and Bruno”, followed by “Sylvie and Bruno Concluded”.
The novel is not so famous as the Alice books, but its nice introductory poem contains an acrostic on the name “Isa Bowman”, to whom the book was dedicated.
She was an actress, who met Carroll in 1886 when she was 12 and the writer 55, while she was playing a small part in the stage version of “Alice in Wonderland”
(As for Alice Liddell, he had met her in1856 when she was 4 years old and he was photographing Christ Church Cathedral whose Dean (2) was her father)
Is all our Life, then, but a dream
Seen faintly in the golden gleam
Athwart Time’s dark resistless stream?
Bowed to the earth with bitter woe,
Or laughing at some raree-show,
We flutter idly to and fro.
Man’s little Day in haste we spend,
And, from its merry noontide, send
No glance to meet the silent end.
(1) A deacon – from the Greek word diákonos meaning “servant”, “minister”, or “messenger” – is an ordained minister of charity ranking below that of priest.
(2) A dean – from the Latin word decanus – is a cleric holding certain positions of authority such as the head of the chapter of a cathedral.
E’ dunque la nostra vita solo un sogno
scorto fiocamente in un bagliore dorato
nell’ inarrestabile flusso oscuro del tempo?
Piegati a terra con amaro dolore
o ridendo di qualche spettacolo dissacratore
avanti e indietro inerti fluttuiamo.
Consumiamo in fretta il nostro piccolo giorno
e, dall’allegro mezzodì, mai dirigiamo
lo sguardo a incontrar la fine silenziosa.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Miss Isa Bowman as Alice in Alice in Wonderland
This photo was probably taken in 1888. Isa Bowman was the author of a memoir about Carroll’s life, titled “The Story of Lewis Carroll, Told for Young People by the Real Alice in Wonderland.”