Humpty Dumpty & Alice in Wonderland?

I found a quote from Alice in Wonderland in a high school geometry book, of all places! It is Alice talking to Humpty (allegedly Humpty Dumpty from the accompanying sketch) claiming “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”

I never read the book, but I was wondering if some SDopers might be familiar with this quote. Was Humpty Dumpty in “Alice in Wonderland”? Also, as a bonus question isn’t this book really entitled “Alice Through the Looking Glass”?

To all Cecil’s women and all of Cecil’s men,
Thanks for setting me straight again! :smiley:

  • Jinx

I should add that in the accompanying sketch Humpty is portrayed as an egg…perhaps the origin of why we associate Humpty Dumpty with an egg which, I believe, Uncle Cecil once addressed?

Or, maybe my facts are all scrambled!

  • Jinx

No. Alice’s Adventures Through The Looking-Glass is a sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland - although, usually they’re published in the same volume nowadays, and movie/TV versions typically run the stories together.

It’s been a long time since I read them (must reread them), so I’m not 100% on whether Humpty was in Wonderland or Looking-glass, although I want to say he was in Looking-glassland, not Wonderland (My mind connects him to chess pieces, not playing cards) - but don’t quote me on that.

But he was in one of them, and he did have that quote - much to poor Alice’s consternation.

Humpty Dumpty “. . . . There’s glory for you!”
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory’,” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t - till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master - that’s all.”

Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter VI

It’s no surprise to find this quote in a geometry book. Lewis Carroll was the pen name of author and mathematician, Charles Dodgson. “Humpty-Dumpty” predates Lewis Carroll by a great many years.

First of all, every math book—text or popular—contains a Lewis Carroll quote. It’s a rule.

Second, as noticed, there are two Alice books, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, though they are often published in one volume.

Thirdly, Carroll threw in all sorts of characters and references and parodies of things from all over the place (poems, nursery rhymes, etc.)—sorta like the Shrek movies. In addition to Humpty Dumpty, you’ll find the Knave of Hearts Who Stole the Tarts, Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee (Carroll didn’t invent the names but he made the characters his own), a parody of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” and lots more that you may or may not recognize.

Fourthy, there is no fourthly. If I think of a fourthly later, I’ll come back and insert it.

Fifthly, the “accompanying sketch” is probably by English cartoonist John Tenniel, who drew the illustrations for the books. His pictures are irrevocably liked with the books and still appear in at least a majority of printed editions.

Sixthly, what the hell are you waiting for? Read the darn books already! If you have the right kind of sense of humor, they’re among the funniest things ever written. I particularly recommend Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice, which explains many of the jokes and allusions.

I spent about twenty minutes typing up relevent Martin Gardner quotations from the Humpty Dumpty chapter of Through the Looking-Glass…, but in the end I decided to just tell you to pick up a copy of The Annotated Alice. You will not be disappointed.