O Frabjous Day! Neil Gaiman Recites Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” from Memory

When the young Neil Gaiman was learn­ing Lewis Carroll’s “Jab­ber­wocky” by heart, he sure­ly had no inkling that years lat­er he’d be called upon to recite it for legions of ador­ing fans…particularly on the Inter­net, a phe­nom­e­non the bud­ding author may well have imag­ined, if not tech­ni­cal­ly imple­ment­ed.

World­builders, a fundrais­ing por­tal that rewards donors not with tote bags or umbrel­las, but rather with celebri­ty chal­lenges of a non-ice buck­et vari­ety, scored big when Gaiman agreed to par­tic­i­pate.

Ear­li­er this year, a rum­pled look­ing Gaiman read Dr. Seuss’s “rather won­der­ful” Green Eggs and Ham into his web­cam.

This month, with dona­tions to Heifer Inter­na­tion­al exceed­ing $600,000, he found him­self on the hook to read anoth­er piece of the donors’ choos­ing. Carroll’s non­sen­si­cal poem won out over Good­night Moon, Fox in Socks, and Where the Wild Things Are

Like fel­low author, Lyn­da Bar­ry, Gaiman is not one to under­es­ti­mate the val­ue of mem­o­riza­tion.

The videog­ra­phy may be casu­al, but his off-book per­for­mance in an undis­closed tul­gey wood is the stuff of high dra­ma.



Is that a mem­o­ry lapse at the one minute mark? Anoth­er inter­preter might have called for a retake, but Gaiman rides out a four sec­ond pause cooly, his eyes the only indi­ca­tor that some­thing may be amiss. Per­haps he’s just tak­ing pre­cau­tions, lis­ten­ing for tell­tale whif­fling and bur­bling.

If you’re on the prowl to make some year end char­i­ta­ble dona­tions, recre­ation­al math­e­mu­si­cian Vi Hart and author John Green are among those World­builders has in the pipeline to per­form stunts for suc­cess­ful­ly fund­ed cam­paigns.

Jab­ber­wocky is a poem that appears in Car­rol­l’s Through the Look­ing-Glass, the 1871 sequel to Alice’s Adven­tures in Won­der­land (1865). You can find both in our col­lec­tion, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Neil Gaiman Reads The Grave­yard Book, His Award-Win­ning Kids Fan­ta­sy Nov­el, Chap­ter by Chap­ter

Neil Gaiman Gives Grad­u­ates 10 Essen­tial Tips for Work­ing in the Arts

Where Do Great Ideas Come From? Neil Gaiman Explains

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, home­school­er, and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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