Friday, June 7, 2024

Ludovicus Carolus in The Notion Club Papers

In my May 29 post "Pumpkin-eating lizardmen, and Marshall Applewhite," I quoted Aleister Crowley's Kabbalistic analyis of "Humpty Dumpty," in which he referred to Lewis Carroll by the Latin name Ludovicus Carolus.

In my June 4 post "Ramer on Humpty Dumpty," I noted a reference to Humpty Dumpty in Tolkien's Notion Club Papers.

Today, I read this in The Notion Club Papers:

Jeremy was an admirer of the Public-house School (as he himself had dubbed them), and soon after he became a Lecturer he gave a series of lectures with that title. Old Professor Jonathan Gow had puffed and boggled at the title; and J. had offered to change it to Lewis and Carolus, or the Oxford Looking-glass, or Jack and the Beanstalk; which did not smooth matters.

Lewis and Jack are pretty clearly references to C. S. Lewis, who has already been mentioned several times by Notion Club members. Given the Looking-glass reference immediately following, I assume Carolus must be none other than Lewis Carroll, referred to with the same Latinized name used by Crowley.


Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - I have always assumed that Carolus references "Charles" Williams. I think Christopher Tolkien believed this, as well.

(Although, if so, it would seem to be the only reference to CW in the Notion Club Paper drafts, that I have noticed, anyway. Which is probably significant given that CW had died less than a year before, and must represent a conscious exclusion - I would presume on the basis of it seeming crass to include the so recently deceased CW in what began life as a rather farcical and somewhat facetious parody of The Inklings.)

Nonetheless this passage of the NCPs might well have an (additional?) element of punning on Lewis Carroll, since Tolkien was very fond of some of LC's work (especially Sylvie and Bruno).

I would be amazed if it had anything at all to do with Crowley!

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

The Crowley connection is just a sync. I can’t imagine Tolkien would have read or referenced the Beast!

I hadn’t thought of the Charles Williams connection, mostly because (so far anyway) Lewis seems to be the only one of the Inklings to exist as himself in the NCP universe. I still think that when “Lewis and Carolus” is immediately followed up with a “Looking-glass” reference, it has to be an intentional allusion to Carroll.

(Latinizing Carroll’s name is not something only Crowley did. Even the Wikipedia article on Lewis Carroll mentions the Latin form of his name.)

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm - Yes, despite my previous understanding, I think you are probably right in identifying the Carolus as Lewis Carroll - for the reasons you say, and because CW isn't mentioned anywhere else (nor is his character parodies among the Notion Club members) despite his importance as maybe the dominant Inkling other than Jack Lewis up to May 1945.

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