The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld: A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece

The Descent of Inanna (known also as ‘Inanna’s Descent to the Netherworld / Underworld’) is a piece of work in the literary corpus of ancient Mesopotamia. This story, which was originally written in cuneiform and inscribed on clay tablets, is in the form of a poem. The Descent of Inanna tells of the eponymous heroine’s journey to the Underworld to visit / to challenge the power of her recently widowed sister, Ereshkigal. The poem is thought to be imbued with meaning and symbolism, and various interpretations have been attached to it.

Goddess of Sex and War

Inanna is a goddess in Sumerian mythology, and is known also as Ishtar in the Akkadian pantheon. She is regarded as one of the most important deities of the Mesopotamian pantheon, and is known primarily as a goddess of sexual love, though she is also has the reputation of being a goddess of war. Inanna is said to be the most complex Mesopotamian deity, as she possesses attributes that seem to contradict each other. At times, she is portrayed as a young girl under patriarchal authority, though at others, she is depicted as an ambitious figure who seeks to expand her own sphere of influence. This latter trait is said to be visible in the Descent of Inanna.

Ishtar/Inanna as a warrior presenting captives to the king

Among the World’s Oldest Poems

The Descent of Inanna is thought to have been composed at some point of time between 3500 B.C. and 1900 B.C., though it has been suggested that it may have been created at an even earlier date. This poem contains 415 lines, and, by comparison, the Babylonian Ishtar’s Descent is told in 145 lines. It has been suggested that the difference was due to the influence of patriarchy, which diminished the power and importance of this goddess during the 2 nd millennium B.C.

This terracotta cuneiform tablet is about the myth of "Inanna prefers the farmer." In this myth, Enkimdu (the god of farming) and Dumuzi (the god of food and vegetation) tried to win the hand of the goddess Inanna. ( CC by SA )

The Descent of Inanna begins with the following lines, “From the great heaven she set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven the goddess set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven Inana set her mind on the great below. My mistress abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld. Inana abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld.” One explanation for Inanna’s interest in the Underworld is that she hopes to extend her power into that realm, whose queen is her sister, Ereshkigal.

When she arrives at the gates of the Underworld, Inanna informs the gatekeeper, Neti, that she has come to witness the funeral rites of Gugalanna, the Bull of Heaven, who is also Ereshkigal’s husband. When Ereshkigal receives this news, she is not at all pleased, and ordered that the seven gates of the Underworld be bolted against her sister. Inanna is only allowed to pass one gate at a time, and before each gate, she is required to remove a piece of her royal garment.

Cylinder seal depicting the descent of Inanna. Credit: The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago)

By the time Inanna reaches the throne room of Ereshkigal, she had been stripped naked, and was powerless. Ereshkigal overpowered her sister, who was “turned into a corpse” and “hung on a hook”. Prior to entering the Underworld, Inanna had instructed her servant Ninshubur on how to come to her aid should she fail to return at the expected time. This, Ninshubur went to the god Enki, Inanna’s father, for help. Whilst Inanna was successfully revived by the servants sent by her father, she is unable to leave the Underworld as easily as she entered it.

Ereshkigal, Queen of the Nether World ( mesopotamiangods)

A substitute had to be found, and Enki’s servants tried to take several of Inanna’s followers, though the goddess stops them from doing so, as they were all mourning for her supposed death. In the end, Inanna encounters Dumuzi, her husband, who is clearly not in mourning, as he was “clothed in a magnificent garment and seated magnificently on a throne”. This infuriated Inanna, who ordered him to be seized.

Dumuzi prays to Utu, the sun god, to save him, and is transformed into a snake. Nevertheless, he is captured in his attempt to escape, and is brought to the Underworld. Geshtinanna, Dumuzi’s sister, volunteers to be her brother’s substitute, and in the end, it was decided that Dumuzi and his sister would each spend half the year in the Underworld. Like the Greek myth of Persephone and Demeter, this event is used to explain the changing of the seasons.

Read the full poem here .

Welcome to Season 2 Episode 29, where we cover Chapters 54-59 of The Dream Thieves!

Ronan and the Gray Man finally meet face-to-face and it goes about as well as one might expect--possibly better, even. Persephone and Adam frantically fix the ley line as the 4th of July looms large in the sky. Why must they hurry? Seems like someone’s favorite baby brother may have been teen-napped… some guys really do just blow right past flowers and chocolate to cars and threats, don’t they?

We discuss how long it’s been since we’ve seen “The Birds”, what items we would most miss if we had to go on the run, Shannon questions how much Nievita really is a fire sign and makes some surprisingly off-color jokes, Nievita’s pet naming conventions stay strong to a theme, and we finally get around to naming that new Metal band we’ve been talking about starting.

DEEP DIVE: Journeys through the Underworld (from approx. the 46:45 minute mark to 1:00:30, depending on your player)

Visit us at for complete episode details!

Next Episodes:
-- Ravin’ Girls S2 Episode 30, covering chapters 60-Epilogue of TDT
9/19/19-- Ravin' Girls Season 2 Wrap-up and Two Year Celebration!
Past Episode Guide:

Venus Retrograde 2009: Descent Into Love’s Darkness

What Is Venus Retrograde?
When Venus goes retrograde, she takes our hand and pulls us into the darkness of our relationships. A retrograde period of any planet is a retrospective of that planet’s themes. It is like going into the deep, dark cave of oneself in whatever area of life is covered by the planet that is retrograde. It is a time of moving backward, perhaps of going back to pick up pieces lost in the past. It is a retrieval, a turning inward, perhaps a letting-go. Since Venus’ domain is relationships, this turning inward will happen in that domain.

Inanna’s Descent To The Underworld
The retrograde journey of Venus is depicted in the Mesopotamian tale of the descent of Inanna. To the people dwelling in the cradle of civilization several thousand years ago, Inanna was as Venus is to us: a goddess of love, a beautiful goddess, a heavenly queen. In the tale, she travels to the underworld to retrieve her dead love. The underworld is ruled by her sister, Ereshkigal. Inanna cannot enter the underworld without dying, but a goddess does not stay dead. A goddess is immortal and so, after her journey, she rises, just as the planet Venus, having completed her retrograde journey, must turn direct and return to the sunlit world.

Inanna prepares for her journey by putting on seven things: a crown on her head, a scepter in her hand, a necklace, gems for her breast, a ring on her finger, a breastplate and royal garments. As she descends, she passes through seven gates. At each gate, the gatekeeper requires her to remove one of these items before allowing her to pass. In passing the seventh gate, she comes before her sister (think of them as two aspects of one goddess, light and dark) entirely naked and vulnerable. There she sickens and dies and her corpse is hung upon a stake. After three days and three nights have passed, she is revived and saved by the intercession of Ninshubur, a Mesopotamian Mercury. Mercury (Hermes to the Greeks), as messenger of the gods, is traditionally one of the few immortals who is able to travel between the under- and over-worlds without having to die to do it. The messenger-god sends two angels to feed Inanna the food and water of life. She is brought back to life and returns to the over-world, bringing a trail of the dead with her. The dead who return with her are not the restless dead, but those who died peacefully.

What Does The Story Mean?
Think of Inanna’s descent as a descent into deeper intimacy. She is attempting to bring her lover back from death and to revive her relationship. To do this, she must go into her relationship’s darkness she must enter into deeper intimacy. This requires a vulnerability that she cannot comprehend at first, but learns to understand by experiencing it.

Inanna armors herself for the descent into the underworld. Her approach to the first gate is tinged with arrogance, but by the time she arrives at Ereshkigal’s throne she is stripped, literally and figuratively. She has no armor left. She is entirely vulnerable.

This tale is a classic one because Inanna’s behavior is so like our own, when faced with the prospect of real intimacy and the fear it brings up. When we go into an “intimate” conversation, don’t we gird ourselves for a fight we are secretly hoping to win? Don’t we decorate ourselves, hoping to charm our partner into agreement, or to entice them? Don’t we cover our breast, our heart, with hard armor in hopes that, while we may deliver a wound, we will escape without receiving one? We wish to make our point and to have an impact on our partner, without having to feel anything or make any change in ourselves.

Inanna shows us that vulnerability is the only approach that works when going into the dark places of love and relationship. If you find yourself in a relationship where you cannot ever be entirely vulnerable or your partner does not feel that they can be entirely vulnerable (at least some of the time), then real intimacy is not happening between you. Both partners must be capable of complete vulnerability and willing to stand emotionally naked before each other, and ready to let go of all armor, in order to reach true intimacy. At the very heart of intimacy is trust, without which a relationship has no foundation.

Seven Gates, Seven Sacrifices On The Way To Deeper Intimacy
Inanna must make a sacrifice at each gate on her way to the underworld. Each sacrifice has interesting possible meanings. During 2009’s Venus retrograde period (March 6 through April 17) I’ll be making one short blogpost about each of them. As I do that, I won’t be trying to interpret their meaning to the Mesopotamians who first told this story I am looking for the meaning these symbols hold for you and me, today.

Text Language Translation

(More customer reviews) Penglase examines structural relationships between on the one hand the `Homeric' hymns from c.650BC (?) and Hesiod's `Theogony' and `Works & Days' from sometime in the eight century and on the other, the myths of Inanna-Ishtar, Dumuzi (Tammuz - as in the month in Arabic and Hebrew) and Ninurta-Ningirsu in the Mesopotamian tradition.
The book begins within a recounting of Inanna's descent into the underworld & the image of her clothes as power (SJK- common to the Gnostic and Hermetic traditions as well). Her condemnation to death by the Anunnaki represents the initial defeat motif and by means of her - seemingly, horizontal - ascent she gains netherworld powers. There is no discussion of her emergence onto the mythological scene or the fact that she (earlier (s)he) was probably a composite deity from various local versions.
Ekur (`kur' means `mountain') relates closely to Olympus but there is no attempt by Penglase to force Mesopotamia to be the origin of the Olympian gods - for Leto, Apollo, Artemis, Demeter & Persephone as well as the motif of Athena's birth and Zeus' journey for power, the relationship is only structurally derivative. The exception is Aphrodite who is probably a direct derivative of Ishtar.
In the Hymn to Apollo, both Apollo and his mother, Leto, perform journeys whilst Hera's role parallels that of Erishkegal. Again, the ascent sequence from within the earth follows the image of the searching mother goddess. There is an initial defeat which is later rectified and the complete journey results in the alternating ascent and descent of the deity with accompanying fertility effects. Apollo's struggles with Pytho and the river Telphousa are related to the Tiamat motif. But whilst Telphousa and Tiamat are both essentially animate, Asag and the kur are essentially inanimate. There isn't much of an attempt to develop this into a chronological modification. Common motifs include food, dressing, noise, radiance, & the return journey to the Assembly of the supreme deity.
The Hymn to Demeter is of particular interest because it is the first written evidence of the Mysteries of Eleusis but the literature of the time presents a very sombre view of the afterlife. Whilst there is plenty on the pomegranate motif there is no mention of the fact that it is a sacred symbol for both Tanit (as successor deity for Astarte and Asherah) and the Kore cults in Carthaginian Tunisia. The unwashed journey of Demeter parallels that of Dutter whilst the child gender issue which threatens to unwind Penglase's analysis is settled by both the kouros / Ploutos in one tradition and by the descent of Geshtinanna's descent in the other. The carrying away of a young person parallels Geshtinanna in the composition `Dumuzi's Dream' and both are accompanied by cosmic screaming. Pengalse rejects the oft-accepted rape thesis on the grounds that `poll'aekazomeni' demonstrates both sexual unwillingness on the part of the young girl and also Hades' forbearance. I remain less than 100% convinced although I don't rule out his interpretation. The Isis / Osiris myth from Egypt is argued to have come from the Persephone legend and not the other way around - this does make sense in spite of the fact that Isis was a clearly defined deity prior to 2500BC. The pig connection between Isis and Demeter is not discussed.
Of great interest is the issue of the drought image. It is argued that given the Greek environmental surroundings, the image of drought fits better with the risks of living in the Iraqi homelands of the Sumerians, Akkadians and Babylonians. But what is never asked is: `From whence did the Greeks come?' There isn't even any mention of the roles played by Zeus. Hera, Athena and Artemis in known Linear B texts from Pylos and Knossos. Admittedly any analysis is going to run in to problems given such limited religious material beyond 750BC.
Penglase roundly rejects the pan-IndoEuropeanist view of Aphrodite seeing her as part of a common development from Inanna-Ishtar with Astarte, and more controversially, Asherah. Common to both Ishtar and Aphrodite are the control of sexual desire (SJK - Ishtar was more deity of sex and violence than love and war), their original androgynous roots (SJK - Inanna was originally both the morning and evening star and both male and female although she is not alone amongst goddesses in having male traits. Interestingly, both Athar and Akkadian Ishtar are masculine in linguistic form), Ourania `the Queen of Heaven', the sacrifice of doves and sacred prostitution. In addition both have a shepherd lover. Strangely enough there is no mention of the shared embroidered girdle with intrinsic powers but Penglase is absolutely clear on ruling out Phoenician influences.
In the creation of Pandora, the first woman, it is the thought that comes from Zeus whilst the creative ability comes from Hephaistos and Athena. This parallels the roles of Enlil and Enki in the Mesopotamian creation myth. Notably, there is no actual female deity involvement in the Enuma Elish. Pandora's powers of attraction are argued to be - at least in part - resultant from the attire she wears.
Penglase's discussion of the birth of Athena is based on evidence from the Homeric Hymn to Athena and the Seventh Olympian Ode of Pindar and the differences from Mesopotamian ideas are seen as the result, not of misunderstanding, but rather of deliberate design. Hesiod is argued not to be presenting a fundamental new paradigm within Greek mythological thinking but rather acting as compiler and integrating Hittite material. Athena springs from Zeus' head but bear in mind here that the Greek word for `head' can also be read as `mountain peak'.
But surely there is also a connection with the overthrow of one order of deities by another? Penglase doesn't dwell on this, nor on the nature of pre-existing Akkadian religion prior to its Sumarianisation or even the issue of the Dorian `invasion' at the start of the Greek Dark Age. Nevertheless, a heavy-going read as it sometimes is, this book is time well invested.

Baby, Let Me Follow you Down

Donald Trump speaks at a 2016 campaign event in Fountain Hills, Arizona, before the March 22 primary. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Baby, let me follow you down
Baby, let me follow you down
Well, I’ll do anything in this God-almighty world
If you just let me follow you down

Bob Dylan’s lyrics from his iconic “Baby, Let me Follow you Down” are a metaphor for the creepy metastases of the Republican Party into the Trumpublican Party, the result of following Donald Trump down into the swamp he once vowed to clean up.

As dangerously dismal as this is for the once credible conservative party, it pales in comparison to the corporate control of our government whose primary mission is killing environmental regulations and insuring continuance of obscene fossil fuel subsidies – $20 billion in 2018.

In her latest must-read book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, Naomi Klein succinctly captures the climate change conundrum in a statement that prefaces her chapter entitled Capitalism vs. the Climate. She writes, “there is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.”

The strategy of “free market” zealots is to avoid climate change facts and attack the motives of “believers” in the same way that Republicans avoided the facts calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump and focused on the “unfair process.”

One of the denialist’s marketing mantras is that climate change is a “Trojan horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism” as well as other pithy pitches that Klein recorded at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change in our nation’s capital in 2011. Klein writes that “As conference speaker Larry Bell succinctly puts it in his new book, Climate of Corruption, climate change ‘has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution.’”

The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank devoted to “promoting free-market solutions” that has received funding in the past from notable right-leaning institutions such as Exxon-Mobil and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

Klein writes, “The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived,” she says, “at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their ‘free-market’ belief system.”

We have to understand the primary reason that climate science facts won’t and don’t change the minds of climate change deniers. “It’s not so much opposition to the facts of climate change that drives denialists,” Klein says, “it is opposition to the real-world implications of those facts.”

Klein writes that the central fiction on which our economic system is based is that “nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out, it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract.”

The atmosphere is not the only environmental factor that has been exploited beyond its capacity to recover. Klein writes that we’re doing the same thing “to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil, and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mind-set that has so long governed our relationship to nature is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits,” Klein writes, “demands not just green products and market-based solutions, but a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal – and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.”

“So in a way,” she concludes, a Heartland Institute speaker was right when he said “that climate change isn’t ‘the issue.’ In fact, it isn’t an issue at all. Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of Western culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true to the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.”

John lives in Greenfield MA and is a peer news author for Citizen Truth. He is a columnist for the West County Shelburne Falls Independent, a monthly op ed contributor for the Greenfield Recorder and a contributing writer for Green Energy Times in New England. His op eds have been published in the Springfield Republican, the Montague Reporter, the Worcester Telegram and the Daily Hampshire Gazette. He invites comments and dialogue at [email protected]

The Inspiration behind After the Shadow

After the Shadow features threads of traditional stories from Greece, Sumer, and Russia. Scroll down to discover the inspiration behind this year’s original STEP production!

Theseus and the Minotaur (Greece)

“The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the most tragic and fascinating myths of the Greek Mythology. Theseus, a genuine Greek hero of Mythology, and the Minotaur, one of the most devastating and terrifying monsters, are the main protagonists of a myth that involves gods and monsters, heroes and kings, and two of the main city–states in the Hellenic world: Athens and Crete.”

Click here or on the image to learn more.

Inanna (Sumer)

“A 5,500-Year-Old Literary Masterpiece… This story, which was originally written in cuneiform and inscribed on clay tablets, is in the form of a poem. The Descent of Inanna tells of the eponymous heroine’s journey to the Underworld to visit / to challenge the power of her recently widowed sister, Ereshkigal.”

Click here or on the image to learn more.

Vasilisa (Russia)

“[…] In the evening the girl laid the table and began waiting for Baba-Yaga. It grew dark. The black horseman swept by and it was night. The skulls’ eyes began to shine. The trees creaked, the dead leaves crunched, the earth trembled, and there was Baba-Yaga…”

Click here or on the image to learn more.

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presentations for free. Or use it to find and download high-quality how-to PowerPoint ppt presentations with illustrated or animated slides that will teach you how to do something new, also for free. Or use it to upload your own PowerPoint slides so you can share them with your teachers, class, students, bosses, employees, customers, potential investors or the world. Or use it to create really cool photo slideshows - with 2D and 3D transitions, animation, and your choice of music - that you can share with your Facebook friends or Google+ circles. That's all free as well!


சின்னங்கள் தொகு

எசுன்னா நகரத்தின் பாபிலோனியச் சுடுமண் சிலைகள், கிமு 2,000

கிமு 18-ஆம் நூற்றாண்டின் இஷ்தர் கடவுளின் ஆளுயரச் சிலை, மாரி நகரம்

கிமு 2000 காலத்திய லார்சா நகரத்தின் சிறகுகளுடன் கூடிய இஷ்தர் கடவுள்

கிமு 1300 - 1100 காலத்திய சூசா நகரத்தின் இஷ்தர் கடவுளின் சிலை [10]

கிமு 18-ஆம் நூற்றாண்டின் வில் ஏந்திய இஷ்தர் கடவுளின் சிலை, மாரி நகரம்

கிபி மூன்றாம் ஆண்டின் ஹெலனியக் காலத்திய மெய்காவலருடன் நிற்கும் இஷ்தர் சிலை, பல்மைரா, சிரியா

பாபிலோனியச் சிற்பங்களில், எஸ்தர் கடவுளின் இருபுறமும் சிறகுகள், கையில் வில்லும், முதுகில் அம்புக்களும், ஆந்தைகள் சிங்கங்கள் மற்றும் எண்கோண நட்சத்திரத்துடன் காணப்படுகிறார்.

சுமேரியர்கள் இன்னான்னா எனும் இஷ்தர் பெண் கடவுளைத் போர்த் திறன் மற்றும் பாலியல் உணர்ச்சி மற்றும், மகப்பேறுக்காகவும் வழிபட்டனர். எஸ்தர் கடவுள் இளமையாகவும், உக்கிரமாகவும், சக்தி மிக்களாகவும் சித்தரிக்கப்பட்டார். இவர் சொர்க்கத்தின் அரசியாகவும், நள்ளிரவின் இராணியாக போற்றப்பட்டார். [11] [7] இக்கடவுள், வெள்ளி கோளுடன் தொடர்புறுத்தப்படுகிறார்.

இன்னன்னா எனும் பெண் தெய்வமான இஷ்தரின் கணவராக துமுசித் என்ற ஆண் தெய்வமும், உது-சமாஷ் எனும் இரட்டைக் குழந்தைகளும், ஏரிஷ்கிகல் எனும் மூத்த சகோதிரியும், தேசு எனும் சகோதரனும் உள்ளனர். இவரின் இரட்டைக் குழந்தைகளில் ஒன்றான உது, நீதி மற்றும் சூரியக் கடவுளாகும். [1] [5] [12] எஸ்தரின் மெய்காவலராக சுக்கலும் அறியப்படுகிறார்.

The Masters of Deception: Gang That Ruled Cyberspace, The

Category: Livres anglais et trangers,Nonfiction,Social Sciences

The Masters of Deception: Gang That Ruled Cyberspace, The Details

The bestselling account of a band of kids from New York who fought an electronic turf war that ranged across some of the nation's most powerful computer systems. "An immensely fun and -- one cannot emphasize this enough -- accessible history of the first outlaws in cyberspace."--Glamour

Le livre est en anglais.Mais assez du par les uvres slectionnes. C'est un point de vus personnel et donc non objectif.Merci.

Three by Annie Dillard: The Writing Life, An American Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Category: Livres anglais et trangers,Literature & Fiction,World Literature

Three by Annie Dillard: The Writing Life, An American Childhood, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek Details

A stunning collection of Annie Dillard's most popular books in one volume.

An American Childhood

Category: Livres anglais et trangers,Biographies & Memoirs,Arts & Literature

An American Childhood Details

A book that instantly captured the hearts of readers across the country, An American Childhood is Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard's poignant, vivid memoir of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.

Les livres d'Amazon arrivent toujours trs bien emballs, donc en trs bon tat. Ce livre est un vrai plaisir, Annie Dillard a une trs belle criture qui fourmille de dtails et d'images trs vivantes. Elle raconte son enfance sans avoir oubli la petite fille qu'elle tait avec sa formidable curiosit et aptitude dvorer la vie par tous les sens, sa vitalit, sa sensibilit dans une poque trs bien dcrite en font un tmoignage exceptionnel.


Category: Livres anglais et trangers,Literature & Fiction,World Literature

A fresh retelling of the ancient texts about Ishtar, the world's first goddess. Illustrated with visual artifacts of the period. "A great masterpiece of universal literature."--Mircea Eliade

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Cabins: The New Style

Category: Livres anglais et trangers,Home & Garden,Home Design

Cabins: The New Style Details

This third book in The New Style series offers a panoramic look at some of the most innovative cabin designs throughout the country. Cabins: The New Style is a collection of gateways for the modern isolationist. It includes many wonderful homes that range in size, have cutting-edge designs, and use sustainable materials while maintaining the warm feeling evoked by the traditional cabin.A showcase of some of the most elegant and imaginative designs today, this book highlights how modern architectural elements can be integrated into a rustic landscape. With full-color illustrations throughout, Cabins: The New Style is a must-have for architects and cabin dwellers alike.

Decoding Alice: Victorian spent 18 years studying Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece

“Curiouser and curiouser!” remains one of Alice in Wonderland’s most famous statements, prompted when the immortal lass of Victorian literature has just eaten a cake that makes her tower nine feet tall.

And nobody could be curiouser about Alice than Victoria native David Day. The author of six bestsellers on the world of J.R.R. Tolkien, Day toiled mightily to unearth the bottomless “hidden meanings” that Alice originator Lewis Carroll buried throughout the classic work. “I think everybody knows it’s about something else, they just don’t know what it is,” he said in an interview from Toronto.

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Day’s 41st book: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Decoded has arrived just in time for the 150th anniversary of the publication of the original Alice book in 1865, written by Oxford mathematician and clergyman Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.

Just how curious was Day? The one-time logger born in East Sooke spent 18 years down the rabbit hole of Alice research — obsessed, fascinated and undaunted in his quest to explain how and why her adventures were aimed both to enchant children with the goings-on, and amuse and perhaps enrage adults in the know about upper-class Victorian society.

Reading Alice as an adult, Day quickly realized he had never encountered writing quite like Carroll’s.

“It’s certainly the most complex work I’ve ever done,” said Day, acknowledging that even after 18 years, he finished it just before it went to press with Doubleday.

Day pored over more than 1,000 different editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland donated by a collector to the University of Toronto library. He read every one. Many times, he thought he couldn’t keep going. But ultimately, he just couldn’t let Lewis Carroll “get away” with all of the inside jokes and manipulations of English language and society.

“His language just got ahold of me. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t let it go. James Joyce when he was writing Finnegan’s Wake was totally obsessed with Lewis Carroll. There are hundreds of verbal jokes about Alice in Finnegan’s Wake. Both he and Carroll were doing the same sorts of things with language and the manipulation of language.” And both were unparalleled at it.

His tome is dedicated to Roisin, his wife, and mentor Terry Jones, a member of Monty Python, others of whom collaborated on the film Jabberwocky, based on Carroll’s nonsense poem in Through the Looking-Glass.

Day points out that “three out of five Pythons endorsed the book.”

This is a book that discloses why the Cheshire Cat could disappear from grin to tail, delighting children and mathematicians alike (see sidebar). The Cat’s question: Are we mad while we’re dreaming or when we’re awake is “straight out of Plato’s Theaetetus” circa 369 BC.

When Carroll says that Alice’s great quality is her curiosity, it echoes what Socrates said: That a philosopher is a curious person. Her real-life inspiration was Alice Liddell (1852-1934) daughter of the dean at Oxford who was Dodgson’s superior.

Next to the works of William Shakespeare, Alice is the most quoted work by a single author, Day said.

Another 150th anniversary book has just come out, The Story of Alice: Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland, written by Oxford English professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.

“It’s well-written but there really isn’t much new in it,” Day said. In his own? “Virtually everything is new. There have been people who hinted about the real identities, but nobody has taken it to the extent that I have. And the identification of the mythological level and the mathematical level,” he said. Douglas-Fairhurst declined to comment to the Times Colonist.

Day took his manuscript to Francine Abeles, the world’s academic expert on Lewis Carroll’s mathematics, for a read-through and said she approved of Day’s take over that of a woman who earned a PhD on the subject of the math in Alice.

No one before has looked at Fibonacci’s rabbits rule and how it applied in Alice, he said (see sidebar). He says that Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole echoes a mathematical “thought experiment” employing an infinite series of numbers called Fibonacci numbers, based on the reproductive rate of a pair of imaginary rabbits.

“I think a lot of people first experience it through the Disney film, but it seems like every second book on mathematics and physics has a quotation from Lewis Carroll. Politicians, too. Alice has something for all of them,” Day said.

Far from just a little girl in a pinafore, Alice stands in for Persephone, Greek goddess of spring, in her descent to the underworld, one of the oldest recorded myths.

Many people first experience Alice through the saturated colours of Walt Disney’s 1951 animated feature.

“It’s an entertaining version of it — certainly closer than the Johnny Depp version, which combines the two [Alice books] and totally messes them up,” he said. Less well-known is that Disney built his cinematic empire on Alice, having produced 26 short films based on the novel in the 1920s.

Day didn’t have any particular yearning to write about Alice and Dodgson/Carroll. The project began when he was living in England in 1996 and another publisher suggested he write a book marking the 100th anniversary of Carroll’s death in 1998. Day remembers thinking: “Well, I’ve done all this material on Tolkien — it can’t be that difficult. Look what a small book [Alice] is.”

“I just started reading and realized that I just got deeper and deeper.” There would be no book for 1998. He devoured everything he could find in the British Museum Library, the London Library, the Oxford University libraries.

The home Alice grew up in, the Oxford deanery, is still standing. “She grew up as a little princess, that’s for sure.” By way of home decor, a painting by John Turner was in the parlour.

Carroll fell for Alice when she was 10 or 11, the middle of three daughters of his academic superior at Christ Church, Oxford, Henry Liddell and his wife Lorina.

The little boat ride on which Alice asked Dodgson to tell her a story lives in literary history, and was followed by 10 or 11 more nature-based outings. Then the Liddells drew the line, devastating the shy bachelor scholar.

Carroll took his revenge by making the King and Queen of Hearts — standing in for real Liddell names — “homicidal maniacs,” Day said.

Forbidden to spend real time with his “dream-child,” he wrote Wonderland as his eternal gift: a classical education conveyed to her by subliminal symbols and language that conveyed “a higher truth straight to the soul, bypassing the intellect,” Day explains.

Even though the era allowed girls to get engaged at 14, bachelors taking pubescent girls on outings was “just inappropriate,” Day said. Carroll also took a couple of thousand photos of children, including some in the nude. The pages in Carroll’s diary that refer to the visit that cut off contact were removed, likely by the author’s nieces, Day said. Not that anything physical occurred, in his opinion.

“I think he’d probably have to kill himself if he had to have sex with anybody,” Day said. “He was someone who was celibate all of his life. To teach at Oxford at that time, you had to be celibate. If you married, you would lose your job.”

After that, Carroll had only occasional contact with Alice.

“She got married at Westminster Abbey and she didn’t invite Lewis Carroll,” he said. Eventually, she sold her Alice papers for “a small fortune” — more than 15,000 pounds sterling in 1926 and received an honorary doctorate from Columbia University in 1932, the centenary of Carroll’s birth.

“She was running out of money the aristocracy was having a hard time (and) she was a bit tired of being Alice,” he said.

Of all the illustrations that have depicted Alice over the centuries, he still prefers the originals by John Tenniel.

“I don’t think you can really improve on them. I think they’re the ones that hold people best.”

The copyright expired on the book seven years after publication, but the copyright on the drawings lasted for much longer.

“Consequently, every major illustrator from 1907 onwards has been illustrating different versions of it.”

Will there be a sequel to this Alice? Day is not ruling it out.

“I think it would only take a couple of years. I might, I might, I might.”

10 things you never realized about Alice

In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Decoded, David Day writes of Alice author Lewis Carroll’s “multi-layer world inhabited by characters with multiple identities.”
Here is an abbreviation of Day’s list of 10 Things You Never Knew About Wonderland:

Originally called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, Carroll’s tale evokes the oldest of all recorded myths, that of the Mesopotamian goddess Inanna’s descent into the underworld, retold by the Greeks as Persephone’s return as the goddess of spring.

The Oxford mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson created the pseudonym Lewis Carroll by translating Charles Lutwidge into Latin — Carolus Ludovicus — then reversing their order and re-translating them to English.

Alice Liddell was the daughter of Henry George Liddell, dean of Lewis Carroll’s college of Christ Church. Alice’s father and mother became the King and Queen of Hearts. The Caterpillar was Thomas de Quincey, author of Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. Bill the Lizard was future prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, while the Dodo was the stammering Do-Do-Dodgson himself.

Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole echoes a mathematical “thought experiment” employing an infinite series of numbers called Fibonacci numbers, based on the reproductive rate of a pair of imaginary rabbits.

Alice discovers the Caterpillar is capable of reading her thoughts, a reference to Carroll’s lifelong interest in telepathy, calling it “a natural force, allied to electricity and nerve-force, by which brain can act on brain.”

Largely imaginary beings that exist only as figures of speech or as characters from rhymes, fairy tales or myths, such as the Mad Hatter or March Hare. In Wonderland, real creatures such as hedgehogs are treated as objects, while playing cards behave as if alive.

“To grin like a Cheshire Cat” was a saying dating to the 1700s, but Carroll morphed it into a play on words and geometry. When Alice describes the apparition of the departed Cheshire as “a grin without a cat,” she is mouthing a mathematical solution to an ancient riddle: “What kind of cat can grin?” A catenary — the curve made by a chain suspended between two points.

In Through the Looking-Glass, the Red Queen explains: “You may call it ‘nonsense’ if you like, but I’ve heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!” Many Wonderland inhabitants use everyday words accessible only to a philosopher, hence the necessity of a decoding dictionary.

The numbers and words on the Mad Hatter’s hat are clues to Fermat’s Theorem, linked to the exponential growth of “Mile High” Alice.

Wonderland is a time capsule of the Victorian Age. Clergyman Carroll used subliminal symbols and language “to convey a higher truth straight to the soul, bypassing the intellect” with Alice’s Adventures his gift of a classical education delivered subliminally to his “dream-child.”

Watch the video: The Ascent (January 2022).