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A Bandersnatch is a fictional creature from Lewis Carroll's 1871 novel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, and 1874 poem, "The Hunting of the Snark". Although neither work describes the appearance of a Bandersnatch in great detail, in "The Hunting of the Snark," it has a long neck and snapping jaws, and both works describe it as ferocious and extraordinarily fast. Through the Looking-Glass implies that Bandersnatches may be found in the world behind the looking-glass, and in "The Hunting of the Snark", a Bandersnatch is found by a party of adventurers after crossing an ocean. Bandersnatches have appeared in various adaptations of Carroll's works; they have also been used in other authors' works and in other forms of media.
In "The Hunting of the Snark", while the party searches for the Snark, the Banker runs ahead and encounters a Bandersnatch:
- And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new
- It was matter for general remark,
- Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view
- In his zeal to discover the Snark.
- But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,
- A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh
- And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,
- For he knew it was useless to fly.
- He offered large discount—he offered a check
- (Drawn "to bearer") for seven-pounds-ten:
- But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
- And grabbed at the Banker again.
- Without rest or pause—while those frumious jaws
- Went savagely snapping around—
- He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped,
- Till fainting he fell to the ground.
- The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared
- Led on by that fear-stricken yell:
- And the Bellman remarked "It is just as I feared!"
- And solemnly tolled on his bell.
Anna Matlack Richards's A New Alice in the Old Wonderland, contains a broader description given of the Bandersnatch with the poem, "Bandersnatchy". In this poem, the White Knight sets out to slay the frumious Bandersnatch so as to gain respect from his people against the hero who slew the Jabberwock (a story he would sit and tell till after ten o'clock). It is necessary to be armed with a vorpal sword or a winxy pistol, because one never can tell what a Bandersnatch might do. According to the hero, the Bandersnatch is a queer thing that whizzles overhead causing him to believe it is up a tree, only to his surprise its legs are awfully high. It pleads the hero not to shoot only to fool him and fly away. The hero grabs its tail and cuts it off as his trophy. The hero describes the creature as being extremely long legged with a long tail as well and the ability to fly extremely fast. It could be understood that the Bandersnatch perhaps camouflages itself as a tree, given the explanation understood by the hero's description. There is an illustration by the author's daughter, Anna Richards Brewster, of the hero's encounter with the Bandersnatch.
Public Domain Appearances
- Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There
- A New Alice in the Old Wonderland