Fuller sees a poem as a puzzle, akin to a cryptic crossword, and the literary critic as a professional sleuth. So he repeatedly asks of a variety of poems: what does it mean? He finds the puzzles in the title, in the characters, in the grammar, in the vocabulary etc. And he finds the answers in metaphors, in Freud, in other literary works that have influenced the poet, in the circumstances of the poet's home life, in classic works in other languages and so on.
Frequently he concludes that despite his own much displayed erudition it is unlikely that we will ever find the answer. This doesn't upset me because I have long ago decided that I do not care what the puzzle is if we have to spend so long discovering the solution.
Even where I am tempted to read further I am put off by Fuller's self-assuredness.
The Snark, we are told is Krans backwards which is the German word Kranz which means virginity. Thus the Snark represents the archetypal young girl that Lewis Carroll adored (and whom he sometimes photographed naked) and therefore the Boojum is the bosom (because the words sound similar) and the Jubjub is the bosom (because a Jub is a vessel that contains liquid, a jujube is something to be sucked and a juju is a fetish) and the Bandersnatch is menstruation from a combination of bandage and snatch!
I was even put off when he explained that Badroulbadour is the daughter of the sultan in Aladdin because he simply has to show that he knows that Aladdin is actually Ala al-Din and that the story starts of the "731st" night of the thousand and one.
A book for the specialist literary critic who can cope with conceit.
January 2012; 239 pages too many