JED MAYER s a popular writer for children, Lewis Carroll grew adept at subverting the paternalist logic which subordinated children to the whims of their powerful elders. This concern with the plight of the powerless extended into other areas as well, and in the 1870s Carroll became increasingly concerned about the use of animals as objects for study in English physiological laboratories. As public debate over the ethics of animal experimentation grew more heated, the Oxford logician turned his analytic skills to the subject of vivisection. Anatomizing the logic which justified the accumulation of scientific knowledge at any cost, Carroll made a significant contribution to the developing literature of animal rights. While Carroll was writing up his antivivisection pieces for the popular press, he was also engaged in the composition of his most ambitious nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark (1876). In this poem Carroll renders the scientific quest for knowledge and power as an absurd sea journey, in which an eccentric cross-section of English professionals set off in search of an elusive hybrid creature. There is much in the poem to suggest that Carroll's "Agony in Eight Fits" was his subversively nonsensical response to the agonies
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jul 4, 2009
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