Wednesday 16 January 2013


'Forty-two', a notebook drawing by JVL, which was also included as a tailpiece in 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Artists' Choice Editions, 

 The number 42 has a resonance in Lewis Carroll’s works. In Carroll’s poem The Hunting of the Snark forty-two is the number of the Baker’s items of luggage and in the Preface to the first edition of this poem Carroll mentioned Rule 42 of the ‘Bellman’s Code’, a rule that states that “No one shall speak to the Man at the Helm’. The same number crops up as another ‘rule’ in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when the King of Hearts announces in court – “Rule Forty-two. ALL PERSONS MORE THAN A MILE HIGH TO LEAVE THE COURT”. Tenniel drew 42 illustrations for the first edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 
There seems to be a magnetic attraction to the number. The number forty-two also became well known in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It was a number that was put forward as representing “the meaning of life, the universe, and everything”, calculated by the computer called ‘Deep Thought’. 
In June 2008 the House of Commons in the UK voted on extending a pre-charge detention for terror suspects to 42 days, though this was later defeated in the House of Lords. It has also turned up recently as the number of days in which parents in the UK must register the birth of their child. This illustration was drawn in a notebook and we decided to include it in the book as an afterthought. There are of course 42 instances of the number 42 in the picture.
Oh yes - the number '42' also appears in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, as - ‘fortytwo hairs off his uncrown’ (FW 1:169/13) and - ‘as a taste for storik’s fortytooth’ (FW 1: 177/26).

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