Charles Dodgson

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Lewis Carroll

Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898) was an English conservative mathematician and university professor who was critical of liberal inroads into mathematics and, as Lewis Carroll, wrote Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking-Glass (which contains the poem Jabberwocky), in protest of them.[1] Carroll also wrote the long nonsense poem, The Hunting of the Snark. In addition to writing these stories and poems, Charles Dodgson also was a photographer.

Dodgson wrote a play about geometry called Euclid and His Modern Rivals.

Dodgson's literary works are full of puns and jokes based on logic. Computer programmers are fond of quoting the King's directions to the White Rabbit, who asks "Where shall I begin, your Majesty" and is told "Begin at the beginning, and go on until you come to the end: then stop."

Many of the poems in the Alice books are sly parodies of overly-solemn poems that were popular in Victorian times, but almost forgotten now. Dodgson's parodies have, in fact, survived better than the poems they were parodying. Isaac Watts'

  How doth the little busy Bee
    Improve each shining Hour,
  And gather Honey all the day
    From every opening Flower!

  How skilfully she builds her Cell!
    How neat she spreads the Wax!
  And labours hard to store it well
    With the sweet Food she makes.

becomes, in Dodgson's hands,

  How doth the little crocodile
    Improve his shining tail,
  And pour the waters of the Nile
    On every golden scale!

  How cheerfully he seems to grin,
    How neatly spread his claws,
  And welcome little fishes in
    With gently smiling jaws!'

Charles Dodgson ultimately became a Christian. His father was a gifted mathematician who gave up intellectual career to become a country parson. Although he achieved fame and wealth from his Alice books, he hated to be called Lewis Carroll and would respond to fan mail with a circular repudiating any relationship to that persona.

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References

  1. http://activerain.com/blogsview/1553807/math-in-alice-in-wonderland-catch-the-npr-interview-with-standford-mathematician-janice-roosevelt-keller-williams-pa-de-jroosevelt-kw-com-
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