Ratschläge einer Raupe

“Alice and the Caterpillar” by John Tenniel (1820-1914), from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (1865)


Ratschläge einer Raupe is one possible German translation of “Advice from a Caterpillar”, which is the title of chapter five of Alice in Wonderland. But the drawing above doesn’t need a translation. John Tenniel and Lewis Carroll were a classic combination, like Quentin Blake and J.P. Martin or Thomas Henry and Richmal Crompton. Tenniel drew fantastic things in a matter-of-fact way, which was just right.

But that makes me wonder about Ratschläge einer Raupe. In German, Rat-schlag means “piece of advice” and Ratschläge is the plural. At first glance, the title is more fun in German: it alliterates and trips off the the tongue in a way the English doesn’t. And Schlag literally means “blow, stroke”, which captures the behaviour of the caterpillar well. Like many of the characters Alice encounters in Wonderland, he is a prickly and aggressive interlocutor. “Advice from a Caterpillar” is plain by comparison.

So perhaps that makes it better: it’s a matter-of-fact title for a surreal chapter. Tenniel’s art echoes that.

Oh My Guardian #6

[…] the whole vintage package – which started as essentially a rediscovery of simple skills, tying generations together and serving as a visual cake-based bulwark against modern turbulence – has been used to sugar-coat a free-market nationalism that isn’t sweet at all. — Zoë Williams, Let’s ditch the nostalgia that’s invaded our TV and seeped into our politics, The Guardian, 30iv2018.


Elsewhere other-engageable:

Oh My Guardian #5
Zo with the Flow
Reds under the Thread (more on mixed metaphory)

Performativizing Papyrocentricity #60

Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:

Conteur CompatissantShort Stories, Guy de Maupassant, translated by Marjorie Laurie (Everyman’s Library 1934)

Riff-Raph100 Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces, Gordon Kerr (Flame Tree Publishing 2011)

Fall of the WildA Fall of Moondust, Arthur C. Clarke (1961)

Orchid and OakVine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W.E. Vine et al (Thomas Nelson 1984)

Hoare HereRisingtidefallingstar, Philip Hoare (Fourth Estate 2017)


Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR

Santa Ana

Biblia anagrammatica, or, The anagrammatic Bible: a literary curiosity gathered from unexplored sources and from books of the greatest rarity, Rev. Walter Begley, Privately Printed for the Author, 1904

I. ANAGRAMMATIC DIALOGUES COMPOSED ENTIRELY OF THE LETTERS OF THE SALUTATIO ANGELICA: “AVE, MARIA, GRATIA PLENA; DOMINVS TECVM”

After considerable research, I have only discovered two writers who have attempted this excessively difficult literary device. One was the eccentric Pierre de St. Louis, a Carmelite, whose book is dated 1672, and the other an Hungarian priest, who gave his contribution to the public in a work published as recently as 1869.

Luc. i. 28.
Ave, Maria, plena gratia; Dominus tecum.

Anagrammata.

Pierre de St. Louis, Carmelite, 1672.

Nigra sum. At Janua Coeli demum aperta.
Amica pia et Rosa grata, Lumenve Mundi.
Gemma Vitis in ea clara Domu pure nata.
Virgo clemens pia miranda, Eva mutata.
Regia summa Patrona, Clientem adjuva.
Virgo meum lumen, pia et sacrata Diana.
Ira placata rigidum mutas Evae nomen.
O Musa, jam ad te levia carmina pergunt.
Area mea totiusve Mundi ampla Regina.
Mater Carmeli. In eo, pia, munda, augusta.
Magna diu semper, Carmeli o Janua Tuta.
In Te valida via, magna sperat cor meum.
Amate prodigium naturas sine macula.
Semper inviolatam, argute canam. Audi.
Gemma tuis pie cara, in Domu Lauretana,
Jam tum via miranda per angelos vecta
Permagna Domus aurea in alta emicuit.
Vera, Alma Domus Agri Piceni tuta mane.
Amica ad te unam, jam Peregrinus volat.
Tu Dia, quam Pia, ore angeli arcanum sume.
Sanctuarium a Dei mei Angelo paratum.
Eia, Pia, Caram Mundo genitura salutem.
Ea pia, edita Regula omnium sanctarum.
Virgo casta Diana Emmanuelem rapuit.
Alma Porta jam antea Decus Virgineum.
Summa Diva ac Virgo plane intemerata.
Tam magna Deipara, una te jure colimus.
Via mea, Paradisi gratum Lumen, te cano
Intus a gaudio camera impleatur. Amen.
Mater cujus amaritudo ei plane magna
Elucens Virgo, tu jam pia Mater amanda.
In Amanda vivam ego. Petrus Carmelita
Mea Virago Lauretana est prima mundi.
Mira simul et pia, erga Numen advocata.
O Luna magnum a Dei pietate sacrarium.
O Unica sanave Margarita, Dei templum.
Summa Regina Poli, tute ac jure amanda.
Tu Regia, non Eva prima, sed Immaculata.
Sum Luna Picena amata, Virgo Mater Dei
Tu mea ardua ara, olim in Picenum gesta.
O veri Dei Munus, Palma, caritate magna.
Alma vere Integra, Pudica. Nos jam muta.
Due Regina et viam tutam sine malo para.
Num pia amata, et sacra Virgo de Lumine.
Eva intacta Deum jam paris angelorum.
Ita amata parens miraculo Deum genui.
Ardua sancta pia meum Genitorem alui.
Tu pia amica Mundo. Salve Regina Mater,
O augusta mire pia. Nunc Dei Mater alma.
Ipsa ter magna aut nimium decora. Vale.
Optima, cara Mater Numinis. Vale. Gaude.

This very eccentric Carmelite who framed the above fifty-one anagrams, and the first anagrammatic dialogue in Part I., some pages back, has been presented entire, and not tithed. The reasons of this special privilege are that he is rare to a degree, an “original” here and always, and the specimens above have been picked out, for the first time, from different parts of his work, for which, and for more about him, see the Bibliography.

Biblia anagrammatica (1904)

Noise from Nowhere

• Es war, als ob er irgendwohin horchte, auf irgend ein unheimliches Geräusch. — Thomas Mann, Der kleine Herr Friedemann (1897)

• He seemed somehow to be listening, listening to some uncanny noise from nowhere. — “Little Herr Friedemann” (translated by David Luke)

He Say, He Sigh, He Sow #46

“… for comic effect he also drew on neglected Arabic words, including buldah, or ‘freedom from hair of the space between the eyebrows’, and bahsala, to ‘remove one’s clothes and gamble with them’.” — Christopher de Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (2017), writing of the Lebanese Christian Maronite novelist Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1805-87) (ch. 5, Vortex, pg. 167)

Performativizing Papyrocentricity #54

Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:

Protean ProseThe Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, Charles Kingsley (1863)

SchmetterlingsschmuckButterfly, Thomas Marent (Dorling Kindersley 2013)

Criblia – ბიბლია / Biblia (Georgian Bible) (2013)

Micro MacroSuper Bugs: The Biggest, Fastest, Deadliest Creepy Crawlies on the Planet, John Woodward with Dr George McGavin (Dorling Kindersley 2016)

Chute: The LotThe Fallen: Life In and Out of Britain’s Most Insane Group, Dave Simpson (Canongate paperback 2009)

Twice Has Thrice the VicePisces, Peter Sotos, with an introduction by Dr Miriam B. Stimbers (TransVisceral Books 2017)


• Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR

Performativizing Papyrocentricity #53

Papyrocentric Performativity Presents:

Pocket to LaroussiaLarousse de Poche (Librarie Larousse 1954)

Translated to HeavenLes Hommes Volants, Valerie Moolman, trans. Madeleine Astorkia (Time-Life Books 1981)

The Eyes of the Infinite MindFicciones, Jorge Luis Borges

Caught by the FurzeFrancis Walker’s Aphids, John P. Doncaster (British Museum 1961)

Commit to CrunchMaverick Munch: Selecting a Sinisterly Savory Snack to Reinforce Your Rhizomatically Radical Reading, Will Self (TransVisceral Books 2016)


Or Read a Review at Random: RaRaR

Which Switch

Why didn’t George Orwell sort his relatives out? I don’t mean his family: I mean his pronouns. In The King’s English (1906), the Fowler brothers say this:

The few limitations on ‘that’ and ‘who’ about which every one is agreed all point to ‘that’ as the defining relative, ‘who’ or ‘which’ as the non-defining.

Here are some examples:

• The cat that sat on the mat ate a rat. (Defining)
• The cat, which is three, never sits on mats. (Non-defining)
• The cat that you see on the mat eats rats. (D)
• The cat, which you saw yesterday on a mat, eats rats. (N-D)
(The third example can also be written without an explicit relative: “The cat you see on the mat eats rats.”)


But Orwell doesn’t follow these simple rules consistently in Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). In the opening chapter of the book, you can find many defining relatives using “which”:

• …one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move
• …a list of figures which had something to do with the production of pig-iron
• …an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part of the surface of the right-hand wall
• …the blue overalls which were the uniform of the party

But you can also find defining relatives using “that”:

• …his skin roughened by coarse soap and blunt razor blades and the cold of the winter that had just ended
• …there seemed to be no colour in anything, except the posters that were plastered everywhere
• You had to live – did live, from habit that became instinct – in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard (note implicit relative after “sound”)

Here Orwell uses “that” and “which” as defining relatives in the same sentence:

• Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.

I can’t see any clear reason for the alternation, but it would be interesting to analyse the sentences more carefully and see if it’s possible to discover what conditions his use now of “which”, now of “that”. When I looked at the same phenomenon in the work of Evelyn Waugh, I found that “that” seemed to occur more often when the noun was governed by a preposition. That may also apply to Orwell.

Now let’s move from a particular writer to something more general. It’s possible to use a modification of the rules given above. If the noun and its defining relative are separated by several other words, I sometimes prefer “which” to “that”. Here’s an example from Orwell:

• He had a trick of resettling his spectacles on his nose which was curiously disarming…

The noun is “trick”, not “his nose”, so “which” doesn’t seem so bad to me, because it helps to disassociate the relative from the nouns that separate it from its antecedent. In its non-defining form “which” has what might be called a disjunctive role, and the disjunctive association is still there when it’s used as a defining relative. That’s why “which” doesn’t seem right as a defining relative when its antecedent stands directly before it.

But the possessive of “his nose” also helps to dissociate the relative, so I would also be happy to use “that” in this particular case. In the other examples, “that” is the clear winner (except perhaps in “an oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror which formed part…”).

Do many foreign learners of English feel the same way about “that”? I doubt it. It must often be difficult to separate the three meanings of “that”: the demonstrative pronoun, the defining relative, and the coordinator. Not many foreign speakers of English would understand this sentence easily:

• It’s confusing that that “that” that’s a relative pronoun is written in exactly the same way as that “that” that’s not.

If English had a governing academy, we might spell the three thats differently: that, thæt and thatt, for example. And if I had my way, we wouldn’t use a digraph for the dentals. That is, the opening sentence of Nineteen Eighty-Four would look like this:

• It was a bright cold day in April, and ðe clocks were striking Þirteen.