Are These Really Annotations?

I’ve noticed that some of the annotations are just some obvious things that Martin Gardner may have noticed. These “analyses” are things any person could have seen. I’m starting to not really see some of the annotations as good analysis just obvious explanations for some of the happenings in wonderland. After all, it’s already been noted that the Wonderland is an “opposite world” so it’s not that hard to see how some things in this world are playoffs of things in the real world. There are many examples of this.

One is the mock turtle scene in Chapter 9. Martin Gardner takes note in the margin that PERHAPS this could be a playoff of green turtle soup. No duh it’s a spinoff of that! Anyone who knew what green turtle soup was would know that this was the “opposite” of it. (I put “opposite” in quotes because I’m sure there are many different assumptions of what the opposite of green turtle soup could be.) It just seems that some commentary in the margin’s could be avoided somehow.

Another one that I noted as OBVIOUS would be the fact that the Lobster Quadrille dance is a play on Lancers Quadrille. However I do not know how the Lancer’s Quadrille is performed, I still think that if I did know what it was I would laugh and think it funny that there was a dance in the story called the Lobster Quadrille. No need to tell me that again in the margin.

It also seems extraneous to put the original poem that Carroll is making fun at in the margin. I’m pretty sure that everyone as a child has heard the first stanza of The Star by Jane Taylor. By reading the  Mad Hatter’s poem that he sang about the bat, it’s obvious (to me) that it’s making fun at “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. I don’t think I need to go to the margin and read that same thing again.

It may not bother anyone else, but every time I go to read the annotations I’m hoping to read something I didn’t know, or learn something new. Seeing obvious notes taken by another reader of the story doesn’t really make me want to go and read the annotations again.


3 Responses to “Are These Really Annotations?”

  1. December 3, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I have to agree with you on the “The Star”, but not on the Lobster-Quadrille part. Many people don’t know what that is. I definitely didn’t know what it was… You say a person that knew what it was would most likely laugh, but first a person needs to know what it is before they can laugh. Most people wouldn’t know about it simply due to how long ago it was the “craze” to perform. I find that the 1850s pop culture annotations are the most useful, personally, as it saves us, the readers, from a lot of research and hunting to figure out why this out of place portion of the book is even there. I agree with you on most portions of putting original poems in, however, but it’s just a personal nagging for me. I rarely, if ever, read songs/poems authors put in books. I’m just not a fan of them, as they are usually irrelevant. The poems always feel like they stray too far away from the story, and a masterful story teller shouldn’t have to throw in filler content to make a story longer. Anyways, I do agree on some of the annotations being pointless, but a fair amount of them actually are useful.

  2. December 3, 2009 at 4:40 am

    I agree. I really did not enjoy reading the margins. Occasionally there was good information on the things I didn’t know, and I didn’t mind the annotations as much. But then there were those that dragged on about facts and opinions that were not even relevant to the story or to better help me understand what was going on. I definitely resented them by the end of the book. Some people may find all of them useful and relevant, but I know I don’t.

  3. 3 Deron M
    November 19, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    I see your point Scott. The problem is that what is common knowledge to one person is completely unknown to the next. A great example of this was the conversation I had with Ryan S. during play rehearsal one night. I mentioned many sports references that he simple did not understand. He then brought up many video game references that stumped me. The annotations can sometimes seem very repetitive. Martin Gardner’s intent with them was not to force students to search far and wide for the meanings in story. In order to do that, he needed to cover all of his bases. He had to knit pick at some events in the story in order to make sure that he covered everything for his audience. That being said, I do believe you have a good point in that the annotations can be view as wasted space to someone who already gets the joke.

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