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Why is a raven like a writing-desk?

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11
WilliamAPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
07:03 PM ET (US)
Here is a response from The Guardian's "Notes and Queries":
QUESTION: Any possible solutions to the Mad Hatter's conundrum: 'Why is a raven like a writing-desk?'
Lewis Carroll himself proposed an answer in the 1897 final revision of Alice's Adventures. 'Because it can produce a few note, though they are very flat; and it is never put with the wrong end in front!' The early issues of the revision spell 'never' as 'nevar', i.e. 'raven' with the wrong end in front. Martin Gardner, in More Annotated Alice (1990) gave two possible answers, send in by readers: 'both have quills dipped in ink' and 'because it slopes with a flap'. In 1991, the Spectator held a competition for new answers. Among the prizewinners were: 'because one has flapping fits and the other fitting flaps'; 'because one is good for writing books and the other better for biting rooks'; and 'because a writing-desk is a rest for pens and a raven is a pest for wrens'.
(Dr) Selwyn Goodacre, Editor, Journal of the Lewis Carroll Society, Swadlincote, Derbys.
10
Eli the BeardedPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
01:11 PM ET (US)
Erikkire (/m8), if you read the page they have a better feather
answer: They both come with inky quills.
9
kisraelPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
12:52 PM ET (US)
Dan, thanks for that link. I think it might be worth reading through the archive of that site. I was (only mildly) surprised to see the name of Ranjit, an online friend of mine (and a lot people it seems) credited with one of the games on the Similarity Engine page (and elsewhere on the column, according to google and the column's own index.)
8
ErikkirePerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
12:46 PM ET (US)
They both have feathers (assuming you use quill pens)
7
kisraelPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
12:19 PM ET (US)
Yeah Jim, I got it like a minute after I first posted.

An interesting mix of "meta" thinking with a heap of absurdity, Carolian in that sense.
6
Dan PercivalPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
12:04 PM ET (US)
For more fun in the same vein, including a couple of entertaining-sounding parlor games, take a look at the entry "p: The Similarity Engine" from the archives of Jed Hartman's Words & Stuff column.
5
Jim TreacherPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
11:33 AM ET (US)
"B" in the word "both" and "N" in the word "neither." See?

Another way a raven is like a writing desk is that they both produce doo-doo.
4
kisraelPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
09:52 AM ET (US)
B? N?

Sigh.

I don't get it.

I think I'm clever in other ways though.

NO WAIT; I do get it. I think.
Edited 05-07-2003 09:53 AM
3
cshepherPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
09:37 AM ET (US)
You wouldn't believe the amount of crap that comes from either one.
2
RandomPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
03:48 AM ET (US)
What are two things that have never been in my kitchen? (Cliff Claven)
Edited 05-07-2003 04:01 AM
1
Michael NorrisPerson was signed in when posted
05-07-2003
01:46 AM ET (US)
Because both are sketched with blackened quills (me)