Magazine March 22, 2010, Issue

Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice in Wonderland from the cover and interior of Boys and Girls of Bookland from 1923, written by Nora Archibald Smith and illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith (Wikimedia Commons)

More than half a century after I first read “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” I cannot look at a plate of oysters, let alone eat them, without some of its lines running through my head:

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,

Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

Are very good indeed –

Now, if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

We can begin to feed.”

And it is only by overcoming my guilt as I recollect Sir John Tenniel’s illustration of the sweet, innocent, and unsuspecting little oysters as they gather round to attend to what the Walrus and the Carpenter have to say as

Theodore DalrympleMr. Dalrymple, a retired doctor, is a contributing editor of City Journal and The New English Review. He is the author of False Positive: A Year of Error, Omission, and Political Correctness in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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