onsdag 5 februari 2014

En kattkändis

 Cheshirekatten är nog en av litteraturens mer kända katter, om än inte lika välbekant hos oss som i de anglosaxiska länderna. De flesta av oss tänker förmodligen på Alice i underlandet, när Cheshirekatten kommer på tal — men katten är äldre än så. Man tror atLewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson 1831 - 1898) inspirerades av en katt (eller katter), karvad i sandsten på gamla kyrkor.

Cat's head in Cranleigh Church, believed to be the inspiration for Lewis Carrol's Cheshire Cat

 Som barn läste jag böckerna om Alice, på svenska, men de lockade inte till omläsning. Först när jag läste böckerna på engelska, insåg jag hur fantastiska de är — och hur svåröversatta de är. Inte underligt att de inte blivit särskilt uppskattade här.
 Photograph of the 16th century, sandstone carving of a grinning w:Cheshire Cat on the west wall of w:St Wilfrid's Church tower, w:Grappenhallw:WarringtonCheshire. Said to have been Lewis Carroll's (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's) inspiration for the Cheshire Cat character in his children's book- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Carroll's birthplace of w:Daresbury is adjacent to the village of Grappenhall, Warrington, Cheshire

 And she began thinking over other children she knew, who might do very well as pigs, and was just saying to herself, "if one only knew the right way to change them——" when she was a little startled by seeing the Cheshire Cat sitting on a bough of a tree a few yards off.
The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it hadvery long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.

"Cheshire Puss," she began, rather timidly, as she did not at all know whether it would like the name: however, it only grinned a little wider. "Come, it's pleased so far," thought Alice, and she went on. "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where——" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"—— so long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. "What sort of people live about here?"
"In that direction," the Cat said, waving its right paw round, "lives a Hatter: and in thatdirection," waving the other paw, "lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they're both mad."
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you ca'n't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Alice didn't think that proved it at all; however, she went on. "And how do you know that you're mad?"
"To begin with," said the Cat, "a dog's not mad. You grant that?"
"I suppose so," said Alice.
"Well, then," the Cat went on, "you see a dog growls when it's angry, and wags its tail when it's pleased. Now I growl when I'm pleased, and wag my tail when I'm angry. Therefore I'm mad."
"I call it purring, not growling," said Alice.
"Call it what you like," said the Cat. "Do you play croquet with the Queen to-day?"
"I should like it very much," said Alice, "but I haven't been invited yet."
"You'll see me there," said the Cat and vanished.
Alice was not much surprised at this, she was getting so used to queer things happening. While she was looking at the place where it had been, it suddenly appeared again.
 Så här skriver Wikipedia om Cheshirekattens ursprung:


A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue (1788) by Francis Grose (The Second Edition, Corrected and Enlarged, London) contains the following entry: "CHESHIRE CAT. He grins like a Cheshire cat; said of any one who shows his teeth and gums in laughing."

The phrase appears again in print in John Wolcot's pseudonymous Peter Pindar's Pair of Lyric Epistles (1792): "Lo, like a Cheshire cat our court will grin."

Dairy farming

A possible origin of the phrase "Grinning like a Cheshire Cat" is one favoured by the people of Cheshire, which boasts numerous dairy farms; hence the cats grin because of the abundance of milk and cream.

Cheese moulds

Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable says grinning like a Cheshire cat is "an old simile, popularised by Lewis Carroll". According to Brewer's Dictionary, "The phrase has never been satisfactorily accounted for, but it has been said that cheese was formerly sold in Cheshire moulded like a cat that looked as though it was grinning". The cheese was cut from the tail end, so that the last part eaten was the head of the smiling cat.

Church carvings

There are many reports that Carroll found inspiration for the name and expression of the Cheshire Cat in the 16th century sandstone carving of a grinning cat, on the west face of St. Wilfrid's Church tower inGrappenhall, a village adjacent to his birthplace in Daresbury, Cheshire.

Lewis Carroll's father, Reverend Charles Dodgson, was Rector of Croft and Archdeacon of Richmond in North Yorkshire, England, from 1843 to 1868; Carroll lived here from 1843 to 1850. Historians believe Lewis Carroll's Cheshire Cat in the book Alice in Wonderland was inspired by a carving in Croft church.
In 1992, members of the Lewis Carroll Society attributed it to a gargoyle found on a pillar in St. Nicolas Church,Cranleigh, where Carroll used to travel frequently when he lived in Guildford (though this is doubtful as he moved to Guildford some three years after Alice's Adventures in Wonderland had been published) and a carving in a church in the village of Croft-on-Tees, in the north east of England, where his father had been rector.
Carroll is believed to have visited St. Christopher's church in Pott Shrigley, Cheshire, which has a stone sculpture most closely resembling the pictorial cat in the book.

 "I said pig," replied Alice; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy."
"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life."
_ _ _
"I said pig," replied Alice; "and I wish you wouldn't keep appearing and vanishing so suddenly: you make one quite giddy."
"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone.
"Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in all my life."

Hos "The Phrase Finder" hittar jag följande:
We do know that Lewis Carroll (The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) didn't coin the phrase himself, as there are citations of it that pre-date his stories. John Wolcot, the poet and satirist, who wrote under the pseudonym of Peter Pindar, included it in his Works, published variously between 1770 and 1819 - "Lo! like a Cheshire cat our court will grin".
William Makepeace Thackeray also used the description well before Dodgson, inThe Newcomes; memoirs of a most respectable family, 1854–55:
Mr. Newcome says to Mr. Pendennis in his droll, humorous way, "That woman grins like a Cheshire cat."
There's no convincing explanation of why Cheshire cats were imagined to grin. It seems likely that no one really believed that they actually did. We can take the next line in Thackeray's piece - "Who was the naturalist who first discovered that peculiarity of the cats in Cheshire?", to be sarcastic.
The numerous folk-etymology derivations that explain how Lewis Carroll came up with the idea have to be spurious, as we know he didn't. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has a long troupe of fantastical animals. It's very likely that Dodgson had heard of Cheshire cats being said to grin and adapted the idea into his story.

7 kommentarer:

  1. Den ena skrönan är så god som den andra! Jag gillar den om osten som skulle skäras från svansänden så att leendet återstod till sist!
    Vilken gedigen forskning du företagit!

    1. Olgakatt;
      Jag skulle gärna vilja ha kattformad ost.
      Jag gillar frågor som inte har ett rätt svar!
      som ska släppa
      in sin tjockis nu
      så vi alla kunna

  2. Underbara Alice! Turligt nog läste jag henne aldrig som barn utan först lite senare och då på engelska. Och det är en verklig guldgruva om man skulle råka få jobb som talskrivare åt någon kulturminister eller så. Det finns alltid ett Alice-citat att falla tillbaka på när den egna inspirationen tryter!

    1. Karin,
      Visst är hon underbar. Fast mycket är oöversättbart, så det gäller att hitta citat som går hem även hos folk som inte är uppvuxna men brittiska barnkammarrim och absurditeter.

  3. PS. Och spännande med de olika etymologierna för Cheshirekatten. Verkligen rolig läsning!

  4. Lustigt att du skriver om Alice - jag har precis hittat boken i bokhyllan efter ett fruktlöst försök till städning. Boken var en av de första som ingick i engelskkursen på universitetet i Lund 1956. Det var första gången jag träffade på henne och jag har älskat henne sen dess. Jag köpte boken i översättning av Åke Runnquist illustrerad av Tove Jansson till Mirren när hon var liten på 70-talet. Jag tycker att den översättningen är suverän på sina håll. Den anses väl allmänt som den bästa. Jag har bett Mirren vara rädd om boken - såg att den var uppe i 750 kr på Bokbörsen för ett tag sen.

    1. Ingrid,
      Att städa bokyllor är livsfarligt! Jag vet, för jag gör det jämt - och alltid hittar jag något intressant.