The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony, in Eight Fits

Dublin Core


The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony, in Eight Fits


Published in 1876, The Hunting of The Snark by Lewis Carroll is a poem about nine men and a beaver on the quest for a snark. The poem focuses on the journey the characters embark on and is so outlandish that some have called it an epic, but the tale the poem spins isn’t meant to hold any message or moral. Carroll wrote this poem without any intention for it to be seen as an allegory; it’s just a poem of nonsense about fictional beings and whimsical people. Throughout his life, Carroll loved writing stories and poems with imaginary creatures and made-up words. Between 1860 and 1863, he contributed much of his work to College Rhymes. Later on, he wrote his own book of poems and from those, one in particular stood out from the rest in which he called, “fits”, which later became The Hunting of the Snark. The poem was created one night when he went for a walk, and the line, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see!” popped into his head. The rest of the poem was composed over six months and over time it became an inspiration for different works, such as parodies, musical adaptations, and more.

There are thirteen hundred copies of The Hunting of the Snark, in which Marymount University’s Gomatos Special Collection holds one, but the edition number they have isn’t known. The pictures were illustrated by Henry Holiday and the book was published by Macmillan and Co. and printed by R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor, Printers, Bread Street Hill.

The Hunting of the Snark is classified as a nonsense poem and was written with the purpose of having no meaning whatsoever, but many scholars and readers believe that there is some deeper message to be found within Carroll’s poem. They believe that his poem is an allegory due to the last line of the poem, “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see!” and from this line, people contemplate on the Boojum being a representation of man’s unending attempts to search for something that can’t be found. Despite Carroll creating this poem with no meaning in mind, meaning was created from it in the most ironic way as readers and scholars take the poem’s last words and turn them into something that they were not meant to be.

Further Reading

Consenstein, Peter. "The Transmetrical Snark." Mln 131.4 (2016): 932-43. ProQuest. Web. 25 Oct. 2018.

Holquist, Michael. “What Is a Boojum? Nonsense and Modernism.” Yale French Studies, no. 96, 1999, pp. 100–117. JSTOR, JSTOR.

Wakeling, Edward. “Lewis Carroll and The Hunting of the Snark.” The Public Domain Review, 22 Feb. 2011. 



London: Macmillan and Co.




Cox, Sinclair
Dalce, Naiya


xi, 83 p. : ill. ; 19 cm.









Carrol, Lewis, 1832-1898 and Holiday, Henry, 1839-1927, “The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony, in Eight Fits,” John T. and Agnes J. Gomatos Special Collections Room, accessed December 11, 2018,