Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lewis Carroll on Two Kinds of Laughter

An interesting bit from a letter to Dora Abdy, as quoted in Stuart Dodgson Collingwood, The Life and Letters of Lewis Carroll:

My Dear Dora,—In correcting the proofs of "Through the Looking-Glass" (which is to have "An Easter Greeting" inserted at the end), I am reminded that in that letter (I enclose a copy), I had tried to express my thoughts on the very subject we talked about last night—the relation of laughter to religious thought. One of the hardest things in the world is to convey a meaning accurately from one mind to another, but the sort of meaning I want to convey to other minds is that while the laughter of joy is in full harmony with our deeper life, the laughter of amusement should be kept apart from it. The danger is too great of thus learning to look at solemn things in a spirit of mockery, and to seek in them opportunities for exercising wit. That is the spirit which has spoiled, for me, the beauty of some of the Bible. Surely there is a deep meaning in our prayer, " Give us an heart to love and dread Thee." We do not mean terror: but a dread that will harmonise with love; "respect" we should call it as towards a human being, "reverence" as towards God and all religious things.

Yours affectionately,

C. L. Dodgson

You can indeed see the same point made in the Easter Greeting, although it is made in a different way.


  1. Jonathon4:45 PM

    Thank you for helping me find the source of this quote.  I'm going to write it in the margins of my Doctine and Covenants, 88:121.

  2. branemrys5:40 PM

    Hi, Jonathon,

    Glad it was of help. It certainly does seem relevant to that passage.


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