A Guide to Snark Hunting - An Edwardian Gentlemen's Companion

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“An invaluable guide, I would not hunt Snark without this book...”

Written in 1908, A Guide to Snark Hunting — An Edwardian Gentlemen's Companion was first published in 1942 due to an unfortunate misunderstanding with the printing company. It was the work of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a little known Anglican Clergyman from Warrington, England. The Reverend was an expert in the field of hunting exotic creatures and had already written several books on the subject, as well as others on Paradoxical Barbers and numerous studies on teenage girls.

Fit the Elder


For those without comedic tastes, the so-called experts at Wikipedia have an article about A Guide to Snark Hunting - An Edwardian Gentlemen's Companion.

There are several distinct varieties of Snark. Some have feathers and bite, and some have whiskers and scratch. Some are "Boojums", which appear a more dangerous kind, particularly for Bakers. The taste of the Snark can be described as meager and hollow, but with a certain crispness (like a coat that is too tight in the waist), with a faint flavor of Will-o-the-wisp. It is sometimes served with greens. It also sleeps late into the day. While the snark is very ambitious, and has very little sense of humour, it is very fond of bathing-machines, and constantly carries them about wherever it goes. It is also handy for striking a light.

The domain of the Snark is an island filled with numerous chasms and crags, ditches, trees, and wooden igloos - many months' dangerous sailing from England. On the same island may also be found other creatures such as the Jubjub and Bandersnatch. It is the same island where the Jabberwock was slain within my previous book. The Snark is a peculiar creature that cannot be captured in a commonplace way. Above all, courage is required during a Snark hunt. The most common method is to seek it with an exact combination of thimbles, care, forks and hope. One may also "threaten its life with a railway share" or "charm it with smiles and soap".

Some experts maintain that the Snark is no more dangerous to hunt than a squirrel or a rabbit, but they have Snark guns. Those are not easy to come by - they're handmade from rare elements and clay. If you're really wealthy, by all means get one. Get the latest model and polish it with vinegar. Dump it into a hole in the ground for five days at the very least, then wipe it again with fat of the lamb. Fire it a couple of times to test for sound effect. Leave it at home when going hunting.

For your safety please note

The Remington Snarkbuster 1800 was found to be particularly ineffective at both close and long range against a Snark.

If you find yourself in a situation where you really do have to prove yourself by bringing home at least one Snark, you'll do well to remember the following:

  • don't sleep late. Snarks hate that and disdain you if you do.
  • take your stovepipe hat and blast it through with a shotgun. By this you will gain necessary respect.
  • sleep late.
  • find a ship that has a few masts, some sails, possibly a crew, and a huge cannon. Rigging is not an absolute must.
  • sail to the island where the Snarks reside
  • sail back so they'll not suspect you are going to hunt them

You should now be in a perfect position to hunt Snark. Open the door to your house, look about you and step in. There is no need to look at that little thing on your left - it is just a proto-Snark and stays there easily enough without looking. Note that if it bites you, your hunt is botched. If not, you have a few things you can try.

How to proceed if the proto-Snark does not bite

  • drop the bag of tools on the floor
  • get on all fours as if you had dropped something and were searching for it. If you find out you have dropped the toolbag, make a note of it for later use.
  • stay calm and stand up again. This is a really efficient ruse.
  • if the proto-Snark asks you what the matter is, ask for a glass of water. When it produces one, take it and make out as if you are going to drink it. The proto-Snark will follow your every move from then on.
  • instead of dinking the water, act like you just saw something interesting on the ceiling. Point at it with your finger. The proto-Snark will look up - and it will be trapped.

In practice, the hunt is not quite as simple as all this. What kind of a Snark is a proto-Snark? Not much of one. Still, even when trapped, it will try to weasel its way out of trouble by empty promises, which it uses for a crowbar. No cage can keep it for long and killing it would serve no purpose. It is quite easy to see you need to try again. You have, however, gained necessary experience - but so have the Snarks!

Fit the Younger

A Snow Snark, photographed high in the mountains, is famed for its long, luxurious milky white coat.

Now is the time to put to sea again! The island of the Snarks has stayed put, so that is one worry less for you. You only need to take yourself there, and the rest of the hunt will take care of itself. Make sure you have left your Snark gun at home before leaving harbor. Otherwise you will need to get it, take it back, and make sure you forgot it this time. Time is of the essence - this is not the place for idle gunplay. The Snark will not stand for it.

Once at the island, reach into your pocket for the railway share mentioned earlier. What the Snark lacks in intelligence it has plenty in smarts - as you will soon see for yourself. The share will get snatched from your hand if you are not careful. It doesn't matter much if the Snark actually dies from the share poison, or the terrible noise the railroad makes, because it will be too far for you to find by then. In any case, you will want to catch a live Snark rather than a dead one.

When you step on the beach for the first time, shout some selected obscenities - the ones your father and grandfather used for great effect in the yard. Those are the most hallowed obscenities: with any luck they are such as have been handed down to you from time immemorial. The changes in language might have affected them, but the Snark does not know it. If there are any Snarks inside hearing distance, they are now alert to your presence. You can proceed knowing they now have a certain respect for you.

The next step is to use the note you made out of dropping the toolbag. Twist it into an endless loop using melted mollusc for glue (a well-kept ship should have mollusc glue in store. If yours has none, set about cooking some). Try to make the joint as invisible as possible - if necessary, camouflage it into a section without a joint that has a joint faked onto it. No Snark can spot the difference. Waving this loop, proceed inland. Do not forget to smile arrogantly. It is almost certain you will not meet any Snarks before nightfall. Read the following section before blowing up for the night.

Snark Varieties

Snarks come in a number of varied sub-species, which, as detailed in Mr Darwin's recent study "On the Origin of Species" as well as Mr Spencer's "Survival of the Fittest", appear to have evolved and adapted to fit specific niches within the island of the Snarks. What these are we can not say, well we probably could, but we simply aren't going to.

Lesser Spotted Snark
A species which is exactly alike other Snarks, but with less spots.
Szekeres Snark
A rare sub-species famed for its 50 polyhedral vertices.
Greater Spotted Snark
A species which is exactly alike other Snarks, but with more spots.
Seldom Spotted Snark
A rare sub-species.
Spattered Spotted Snark
A rarity inside a rare sub-species. If you catch one of these, there will be no end to praises.
The UnSnark
All the things in the world that closely resemble Snarks until the moment their corpse is unveiled to an audience of fellow hunters. Derision will be your portion; not for nothing is it said "Be cleverwise at Snarktime" (J. Apathy, "Snarks and Their Keepers", 1956)

Fit the Third

The island in the lake on the island

After a few days on the island of the Snarks, you have probably lost your bearings. They may have rolled into a crag, a chasm or a hellhole. Bearings are not necessary at this point, so we advise you to carry on without them, reading this book while you go. The main thing is courage, as was mentioned earlier. The second sub-thing is a clear mind. This can be found on some cliffs on the island. If you look hard, you can see it right on top of one. Pick it up, set it on "low" and swap hands. You will progress swiftly from then on. Step off the path, keep going until there's a storm in the horizon, and you will see a lake with a single little island on it. You will never find a boat. Step into it and start rowing - the oaths are somewhere nearby, you shouldn't have trouble finding them. If you don't know how to row a hot little boat, do this:

  • set the oaths on the ceiling of the boat so that the flap side is opposite to the flip side
  • mark my words
  • sneeze again and again
  • beware of the ceiling getting too hot: this will stink the boat up and it will capsize your cap.

If the method is not clear to you by now, there is something else you can do, and the boat should be well on its way now. Keep sneezing and snoring, triggering the boat against the treacherous undercurrent found in these deep, murky waters. Some adventurers have lost several ideas trying to battle the current with wrong methods. What is left should be right, and that's where you go when you run out of sneezes. Move quickly now, keeping to it. If you see the man with the gun approach (this is not likely), by no means give him account of the rails. He is going to ask for it, even in his most forceful voice, but you must persist. You hunt Snark, that is all he needs to know. His gun approach is of no use in the wild, against a civilized hunter such as yourself, so you need not fear. Unless you discover that the Snark is actually a Boojum.

Conclusion or Confusion

Having followed all the well practiced practices detailed within the pages of this book, you will now find that you have reached a point of two separate outcomes. These can be defined as:

  • You have your Snark.
  • Your Snark has you.

I forget if there are other outcomes. And there was a lesson to be learned from it, but I'm afraid I forget that, too.

And here ends the book...

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