‘The Hunting of the Boojum’ is a nonsensical sequel to Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem, ‘The Hunting of the Snark’. The Hunting of the Snark has fascinated me since university days when it was scrupulously read once a term at the termly Snark Club Dinner.
In the Hunting of the Snark, a crew of ten unlikely characters under the direction of their leader, pursue their quarry, the ‘Snark’. They discover, however that the Snark is actually a ‘Boojum’, when encountered by one of their number, the Baker.
In the Hunting of the Boojum the same crew hunt the Boojum to avenge the Baker. In the course of the hunt they travel back in time under the direction of their leader, as guided by the mythical, backward flying Ouzelum Bird. As a result they end up back where they started at the beginning of the Hunting of the Snark, where the Baker is reintroduced following his ordeal.
The original poem captivated my fascination because of its cross overs between sense and nonsense and childhood and adulthood. It is these themes that I have tried to replicate in The Hunting of the Boojum. Ostensibly, The Hunting of the Boojum is probably designed to appeal to the young. Hopefully a simple reading of the poem will prove fun to that demographic. Quite apart from the text of the poem, there are fairly copious notes at the end intended to appeal to the youngster interested in exploring miscellaneous disparate issues.
I hope that the adult reader will also enjoy the poem, which is intended to be barmy like the original. The poem is riddled with cross references to the Hunting of the Snark, which are fun if the poems are read in conjunction. To the mathematically minded, the poem hinges on time travel based on the work of Riemann who paved the way for Einstein to formulate his theory of relativity.
If the poem has succeeded, it will have been fun and will leave the reader wondering whether it was written for the young or the not so young and whether in the surreal nonsense there is in fact a serious message trying to get through. In that sense the serious message, if there is one, may well mean different things to different readers and that I hope to have encouraged. My recommendation contained in the forward is,
‘ ……….[that the reader] reads on without too much focus or concentration, for………..it is in those unguarded moments, with a mind uncluttered by detail, that the truth dawns or the solution is found’.
In this speeding modern world, I am convinced that we are at risk of undervaluing time spent simply thinking as opposed to doing. We must surely see that action ought really to follow thought but so often it seems the credit is given simply for the action which may well be based on shallow contemplative foundations. If the Hunting of the Boojum is a catalyst to thoughtfulness whether sensible or nonsensical the author will be pleased.
‘The Hunting of the Boojum’ by Samuel Sigdon can be purchased here.