Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Do you enjoy puzzles?

Mrs. T and her children are great puzzlers, their patron saint is Will Shortz. Crossword, science, game, math puzzles rock their worlds. I prefer a good detective novel and the occasional Sudoko. What does fascinate me though are puzzle creators, and the mad men and women who spend their lives searching for the hidden meanings behind books, most of us read only for entertainment.

Mother Goose nursery rhymes are historical fact? Who knew.

My patron, Martin Gardner, died this week at age 95. In over 70 books, Martin explored the arcane, the weird, and the unusual in straight forward, non-jargoned prose.

He was the foremost scholar of Lewis Carroll's, Alice novels. In 3 books (The Annotated Alice (1960), More Annotated Alice, in 1990 and a definitive edition combining his notes from both volumes in 1999.) He explored, named names and explained the riddles, puns, jokes and hidden meanings of the Mad Hatter, Cheshire Cat and all the other oddball characters.

For half a century Gardner's book has never been out of print, selling more than a million copies in Britain and the United States. He also produced The Annotated Snark (1962), The Annotated Ancient Mariner (1965) and The Annotated Innocence of Father Brown (1987), about GK Chesterton's fictional detective.

"I give the impression of knowing far more than I do," he once admitted, "because I work hard on research, write glibly and keep extensive files of clippings on everything that interests me." Naturally, he was an accomplished exponent of the musical saw.

He shall be missed.



Saw Lady said...

When I was a kid I really liked Gardner's puzzles in the Scientific American magazine. How wild that he, too, played the musical saw!

JDB said...

I'm always happy to come across an author I haven't read. Gardner's work sounds interesting. Thank you for the information.

Toad said...

Does anyone require any further proof that "Google Alerts" works than that The Sawlady showed up today?

Keith said...

Great post. I quite enjoy checking out your blog. You do a fantastic job with it. I hope you've been having a wonderful week.

Toad said...

Thank you Keith and welcome. This week has been a continual trial, but c'est la vie. Next week will be more entertaining.

Toad said...

More on Mr. Gardner:

Anonymous said...

Have you had the chance to glance at the Maugham biography? I also picked up the new Forster biography. It will be quite awhile before I get around to them.


Toad said...

Hilton, I have it, just haven't cracked it yet.