Front cover of an edition of The Annotated hunting of the Snark: The Definitive Edition.

The Annotated Hunting of the Snark: The Definitive Edition (ISBN 978-0-393-06242-7) is a book by the American writer Martin Gardner. It was first published in 2006 and includes the complete text of Lewis Carroll's The Hunting of the Snark with original illustrations by Henry Holiday, many annotations, articles, and references of interest to the fans of the nonsense poem.

Gardner's first edition of The Annotated Snark was published in 1962, two years after his best-selling The Annotated Alice. The Centennial Edition of The Annotated Snark was published in 1981 with additional material and an expanded introduction. The Definitive Edition includes material from previous editions plus new introductions and many updates.


List of Illustrations

Introduction to The Annotated Hunting of the Snark, by Adam Gopnik

New Preface to The Annotated Hunting of the Snark

Preface to The Definitive Edition outlines the publication history of The Annotated Snark and offers updates on new allegorical interpretations and other insights that have come to light since the previous edition.

Preface to the Centennial Edition

In the introduction to the 1981 edition, Gardner describes the origin of the Snark from the sudden inspiration to its publication two years later. He also discusses various attempts to interpret the poem as an allegory or a satire, and quotes Carroll’s answers to questions regarding the meaning of the Snark. The preface closes with an “existentialist” commentary in which Gardner shows how the poem, in dealing with the ultimate fear, is particularly applicable to our time.

First Edition Covers by Henry Holiday

The Hunting of the Snark: An Agony in Eight Fits

Complete text including the dedicatory poem and preface by Lewis Carroll, with Holiday’s original illustrations (including the “suppressed” Boojum illusration) and accompanied by 72 notes.

An Easter Greeting

Reproduction of the pamphlet Carroll inserted into each book when the poem was originally published close to Easter in 1876. With introduction by Gardner.

Peter Newell's Snark Illustrations

A Commentary by Snarkophilus Snobbs (F.C.S. Schiller)

Philosopher Ferdinand Scott Schiller’s famous tongue-in-cheek interpretation of the poem originally published in a parody issue of Mind, the philosophical journal, in 1901. With introduction and additional footnotes by Gardner.

The Clue, A Sequel, by J.A. Lindon

An extra fit to be inserted between “The Banker’s Fate” and “The Vanishing” (Fit the Seven-and-a-Half), starring the other, little-talked-about members of the crew

“The Snark’s Significance” by Henry Holiday

In an article originally published in Academy in 1898, Holiday relates the story of how The Hunting of the Snark developed and how he came to illustrate it. He also describes his working relationship with Carroll and explains why the Boojum illustration was rejected.

Excerpts from Henry Holiday's Reminiscences of My Life

From Holiday’s autobiography (1914); selected passages dealing with Carroll and the Snark.

Selected Bibliography

The Listing of the Snark, by Selwyn H. Goodacre (list of publications, adaptations, etc.)

Hunting the Snark on the Web


Readers familiar with The Annotated Alice will find Gardner adhering to the same principles in annotating the Snark. He does not deconstruct and analyze the poem, but instead guides the modern readers by explaining obscure references and pointing out subtleties likely to be missed upon casual reading.

Common types of annotations are:

Victorian references – explaining what was then common knowledge, such as:

  • “Boots” and other occupations of the crew
  • bathing-machines (with an 1876 illustration from Punch)
  • famous trials that may have served as the influence on “The Barrister’s Dream”

Mathematical, logical, and scientific notes – including:

  • how Boojum is now a term in physics for a type of singularity
  • arithmetical explanation of the Butcher's proof that 2+1=3

Comments on Holiday's illustrations – pointing out details such as:

  • crew's clothing and various items included in “The Crew on Board”
  • creatures and things shown in “The Beaver’s Lesson”
  • hidden figures in “The Vanishing”

Other annotations include:

  • speculations on the significance of such items as the letter B and the number 42
  • comments on word play
  • notes for the non-British
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.