Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, disguised as Lewis Carroll

My morning habit changed yesterday as I finished a very large book of Ogden Nash poems, rhymes, witticisms, and whatever etc. means. I have been reading two pages of Ogden’s wisdom every morning for several months followed by an article from old Goldenseal Magazines dating back to 1983. Before Goldenseal I read two pages at a time of the first two volumes of Pogo comic strips and am waiting for the third volume of a projected twelve.

Starting today the two pages of Goldenseal each morning are joined by a few pages of The Annotated Alice which includes Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There and The Wasp in a Wig.

I understand that my morning habit, ritual, or whatever, is a luxury of retirement from the working class plus social security and teacher retirement checks.

There follows some quotes from the introduction by editor Martin Gardner:

“For nonsense…is a way of looking at existence that is akin to religious humility and wonder.”

“The last level of metaphor in the Alice books is this: that life, viewed rationally and without illusion, appears to be a nonsense tale told by an idiot mathematician.” The author of the Alice books, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, disguised as Lewis Carroll, “…was a shy, eccentric bachelor who taught mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford.”

“We all live slapstick lives, under an inexplicable sentence of death, and when we try to find out what the Castle authorities want us to do, we are shifted from one bumbling bureaucrat to another.”

“….the humanist’s resolve to carry on bravely in the face of ultimate darkness. Curiously, it can also suggest the wild hypothesis that there may be a light behind the darkness”

“Laughter declares Reinhold Niebuhr…is a kind of no man’s land between faith and despair. We preserve our sanity by laughing at life’s surface absurdities, but the laughter turns to bitterness and derision if directed toward the deeper irrationalities of evil and death.”

And I bet you didn’t expect this–there does exist Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s photographs of naked little girls in Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Nude Children published by the Rosenbach Foundation in Philadelphia.


About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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