From: bivalve (email@example.com)
Date: Mon Oct 07 2002 - 17:46:00 EDT
>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
University of Alabama
Biodiversity & Systematics
Dept. Biological Sciences
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
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