clearer idea, than I ever had before, of the meaning of the word ‘chaos’:

and I think it must have been ten years, or more, before I had succeeded

in classifying these odds-and-ends sufficiently to see what sort of a

story they indicated: for the story had to grow out of the incidents,

not the incidents out of the story I am telling all this, in no spirit

of egoism, but because I really believe that some of my readers will be

interested in these details of the ‘genesis’ of a book, which looks so

simple and straight-forward a matter, when completed, that they might

suppose it to have been written straight off, page by page, as one

would write a letter, beginning at the beginning; and ending at the end.

It is, no doubt, possible to write a story in that way: and, if it be

not vanity to say so, I believe that I could, myself,–if I were in the

unfortunate position (for I do hold it to be a real misfortune) of

being obliged to produce a given amount of fiction in a given time,–

that I could ‘fulfil my task,’ and produce my ‘tale of bricks,’

as other slaves have done. One thing, at any rate, I could guarantee

as to the story so produced–that it should be utterly commonplace,

should contain no new ideas whatever, and should be very very weary


This species of literature has received the very appropriate name of

‘padding’ which might fitly be defined as ‘that which all can write and

none can read.’ That the present volume contains no such writing I dare

not avow: sometimes, in order to bring a picture into its proper place,

it has been necessary to eke out a page with two or three extra lines:

but I can honestly say I have put in no more than I was absolutely

compelled to do.

My readers may perhaps like to amuse themselves by trying to detect,

in a given passage, the one piece of ‘padding’ it contains.

While arranging the ‘slips’ into pages, I found that the passage,

whichnow extends from the top of p. 35 to the middle of p. 38, was 3 lines

too short. I supplied the deficiency, not by interpolating a word here

and a word there, but by writing in 3 consecutive lines. Now can my readers

guess which they are?

A harder puzzle if a harder be desired would be to determine, as to the

Gardener’s Song, in which cases (if any) the stanza was adapted to the

surrounding text, and in which (if any) the text was adapted to the


Perhaps the hardest thing in all literature–at least I have found it

so: by no voluntary effort can I accomplish it: I have to take it as it

come’s is to write anything original. And perhaps the easiest is,

when once an original line has been struck out, to follow it up,

and to write any amount more to the same tune.

I do not know if ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was an original story–I was,

at least, no conscious imitator in writing it–but I do know that,

since it came out, something like a dozen story-books have appeared,

on identically the same pattern. The path I timidly explored believing

myself to be ‘the first that ever burst into that silent sea’–

is now a beaten high-road: all the way-side flowers have long ago been

trampled into the dust: and it would be courting disaster for me to

attempt that style again.

Hence it is that, in ‘Sylvie and Bruno,’ I have striven with I know not

what success to strike out yet another new path: be it bad or good,

it is the best I can do. It is written, not for money, and not for fame,

but in the hope of supplying, for the children whom I love, some thoughts

that may suit those hours of innocent merriment which are the very life

of Childhood; and also in the hope of suggesting, to them and to others,

some thoughts that may prove, I would fain hope, not wholly out of harmony

with the graver cadences of Life.

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Categories: Carroll, Lewis