HUMPTY-DUMPTY

Since Lesson I in Ecclesian has had unspeakable success, I am encouraged to introduce your readers to other fields of learning. The original source material which follows shows the value of a scholarly interpretation of a familiar text:

Humpty-Dumpty sat on a wall:

Humpty-Dumpty had a great fall.

We need not stop to discuss the critical questions which surround this classical text. It is generally understood by modern scholars to be a conflation of H and D. The Humptyist (H) may well have written. “Humpty sat on a wall.” The original Deutero-Dumptyist (D2) probably had the reading, “Dumpty had a fall.” A later redactor, acquainted with both traditions, and struck by the rhyming possibilities (Humpty/Dumpty; wall/fall) joined the conflicting accounts in a couplet. The adjective “great” is almost certainly a later gloss, which may be traced to lapsarian circles in Great Falls, Minnesota. The formgeschichtlich school traces the term to a sitz-im-kindergarten which favored exaggeration and legendary embellishment, but this has now been decisively rejected by I. E. Hohlkopfig (Z.A.G. XCMIII: 4, p. 116).

Our primary interest, however, is not in the vicissitudes of history which led to the challenging statement of the text. The fascinating speculations of Glowinkel linking our couplet with the festival of the Easter egg roll cannot be commented on here. We pass over the moralizing and allegorizing that many have found in C. Dodgson, Through the Looking-Glass (Ch. I, “Humpty-Dumpty”).

Instead we turn to the simple declaration of the text. To be sure, the literal picture of an animate egg in a sitting posture on a stone wall is absurd from the scientific standpoint, for it escapes scientific categories. This fall did not ...

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