Under the Hatter’s Hat

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

Because you cannot ride either of them like a bicycle.

Not mine. This answer doesn’t seem to understand how riddles work, but, and of more importance, it does seem to understand how Lewis Carroll might work. However, it also comes across as slightly glib. More flippant then mad. Thinking about it, it’s also quite a tame answer – as if the bike in question has been fitted with stabilisers. A bike with stabilisers? In Wonderland? Not a chance.

Because Poe wrote on both.

Again, not mine. Glad it’s not mine. This isn’t a pub quiz.

Because they both come with inky quills.

Wish this one was mine. I like this one. But even this one doesn’t sit entirely comfortably. The question is: does any answer work? If any was to work, it would surely be the one given by the author himself in the 1897 final revision of Alice’s Adventures.

Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!

Supposedly, the early issues of this revision spelled “never” as “nevar”. While this is very clevar from Carroll, I cannot for one moment imagine such an answer being uttered by the Hatter. He wouldn’t have the time to spare on such a long sentence… after all, he could be drowning the Doremouse. No, the most suited answer to the riddle that I have ever heard was a short one by Aldous Huxley, who said:

“Because there is a ‘b’ in both and a ‘n’ in neither.”

Wonderfully puerile. That said, the very best answer was naturally the one given by Carroll’s Hatter at the time. The riddle isn’t answered, and the riddle is best served by putting the Hatter’s hat back on his head (and sharpish) before things get any stranger.






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