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 Post subject: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:42 am 
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From Humpty Dumpty:

Alice didn’t want to begin another argument, so she said nothing.

“Seven years and six months!” Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. “An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you’d asked my advice, I’d have said ‘Leave off at seven’—but it’s too late now.”

“I never ask advice about growing,” Alice said indignantly.

“Too proud?” the other enquired.

Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. “I mean,” she said, “that one ca’n’t help growing older.”

“One can’n’t, perhaps,” said Humpty Dumpty; “but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.”


Gardner claims:

As others have noted, this is the subtlest, grimmest, easiest-to-miss quip in the Alice books. No wonder that Alice, quick to catch an implication, changes the subject.

So what’s the quip? I don’t get it. Do you?



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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 11:46 am 
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:perplexed:


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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:33 pm 
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:-O
QUIP: a clever usually taunting remark

"One can’n’t, perhaps,” said Humpty Dumpty; “but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.”


I certainly did not see this when I read it but I think the "quip" refers to death, with proper assistance Alice would not have lived past 7. :ohno:



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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:20 pm 
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Linda Lee wrote:
I certainly did not see this when I read it but I think the "quip" refers to death, with proper assistance Alice would not have lived past 7. :ohno:
That's certainly what I thought. (Keep in mind that the death of children was much more common then than now.)


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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:18 pm 
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fansmom wrote:
Linda Lee wrote:
I certainly did not see this when I read it but I think the "quip" refers to death, with proper assistance Alice would not have lived past 7. :ohno:
That's certainly what I thought. (Keep in mind that the death of children was much more common then than now.)


Good point, I tend to forget that.



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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:22 pm 
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Guess we're on the right tract. Found this comment: " Death and Black Humour: Since the Alice books revolve around life and the growth from infancy to adulthood, mortality must be addressed as well. Death is hinted at several times in both books, from the Queen's boisterous demands for execution, to Alice talking to herself about jumping off the roof of her house, to a discussion with Humpty Dumpty about how Alice cans top growing with 'proper assistance'."


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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:32 pm 
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I couldn't figure out that one either. We knew youse guys could get us on the right track! :cool:



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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:55 pm 
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I see you all came up with a quip that I could not see. It does make sense.
I studied and came up blank thinking it must be a play on words. I ran across this excerpt online from "the philosophy of nonsense". I can't copy it but you can look at one page at this link. Here is a bit of what it says about the play on words. Even the explanation is not easy to interpret.



Quote:
Alice lies on linguistic common sense:"grow" is not a verb denoting intentional action, The verb also has a transitive use on which Humpty Dumpy is punning. Therefore there is no point in asking advice or help about this kind of growing, since there is no possibility of not growing. -the mark of agency lies in the possibility "not" to act. But Alice's phrasing is ambiguous and susceptible of a mere literal emotive of interpretation, which is absent from her more correct paraphrasis."one can't help growing older". But, of course, she can never win, for if the second version is semantically safe, it does contain syntactic or lexical ambiguities, which are unavoidable, if her utterance is to express in natural language. If Humpty Dumpy had not chosen to exploit the ambiguity of "one" he probably would have distorted the sense of "help" to suit his purpose.




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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:15 am 
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Well, it seems that you guys have answered my question about the supposed "death jokes" brought up by Gardner in the very first chapter of Alice. Thank you. :notworthy: Gardner referred to Alice's comment about "falling off the house" as the first of many "death jokes". I wouldn't exactly call these jokes. :eyebrow: And I never noticed any after that.

Maybe that is why I don't get the quip. I guess I see it now, when it's pointed out to me. But my mind just doesn't go there. It must be a sign of the times (Carroll's, that is), as was pointed out about the death of children being more common in his day.



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 Post subject: Re: Alice #15 ~ What's the quip?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:17 pm 
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gemini wrote:
I see you all came up with a quip that I could not see. It does make sense.
I studied and came up blank thinking it must be a play on words. I ran across this excerpt online from "the philosophy of nonsense". I can't copy it but you can look at one page at this link. Here is a bit of what it says about the play on words. Even the explanation is not easy to interpret.



Quote:
Alice lies on linguistic common sense:"grow" is not a verb denoting intentional action, The verb also has a transitive use on which Humpty Dumpy is punning. Therefore there is no point in asking advice or help about this kind of growing, since there is no possibility of not growing. -the mark of agency lies in the possibility "not" to act. But Alice's phrasing is ambiguous and susceptible of a mere literal emotive of interpretation, which is absent from her more correct paraphrasis."one can't help growing older". But, of course, she can never win, for if the second version is semantically safe, it does contain syntactic or lexical ambiguities, which are unavoidable, if her utterance is to express in natural language. If Humpty Dumpy had not chosen to exploit the ambiguity of "one" he probably would have distorted the sense of "help" to suit his purpose.


:headache:


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