higher criticism

From: bivalve (bivalve@mail.davidson.alumlink.com)
Date: Mon Oct 07 2002 - 17:46:00 EDT

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    >From Edmund P. Clowney, 1960, Eutychus.

    The original source material which follows shows the value of a
    scholarly interpretation of a familiar text:
    Humpty-Dumpty sat on an wall.
    Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.
    We need not stop to discuss the critical questions which surround
    this classical text. It is generally understood by modenr scholars
    to be a conflation of H and D. The Humptyist (H) may well have
    written ìHumpty sat on a wall.î The original Deutero-Dumptyist (D2)
    probably had the reading ìDumpty had a fall.î A later redactor,
    acquainted with both traditions, and struck by the rhyming
    possibilities (Humpty/Dumpty; wall/fall) joined the conflicting
    accounts in a couplet. the adjective ìgreatî is almost certainly a
    later gloss, which may be traced to lapsarian circles in Great Falls,
    Minnesota. The formgeschichtlich school traces the term to a
    sitz-im-kindergarten which favored exaggeration and legendary
    embellishment, but this has now been decisively rejected by I. E.
    Hohlkopfig (Z. A. G. XCMIII: 4, p. 116).

    Our primary interest, however, is not in the vicissitudes of history
    which led to the challenging statement of the text. The fascinating
    speculations of Glowinkel linking our couplet with the festival of
    the Easter egg roll cannot be commented upon here. We pass over the
    moralizing and allegorizing that many have found in C. Dodgson,
    Through the Looking-Glass (Ch. I, ìHumpty-Dumptyî).

    Instead, we turn to the simple declaration of the text. to be sure,
    the literal picture of an animate egg in a sitting posture on a stone
    wall is absurd from the scientific standpoint, for it escapes
    scientific categories. This fall did not occur in calendar time, but
    in the eggís act time, oval history. It gives mythological
    expression to the human predicament. as the Monarchist observes in
    those existential lines which he has added in conclusion:
    All the kingís horses and all the kingís men
    Couldnít put Humpty-Dumpty in his place again.

         Dr. David Campbell
         Old Seashells
         University of Alabama
         Biodiversity & Systematics
         Dept. Biological Sciences
         Box 870345
         Tuscaloosa, AL 35487 USA

    That is Uncle Joe, taken in the masonic regalia of a Grand Exalted
    Periwinkle of the Mystic Order of Whelks-P.G. Wodehouse, Romance at
    Droitgate Spa

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