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Davy and the Goblin, or, What Followed Reading "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

Davy and the Goblin

By Charles Edward Carryl

New edition, 2011. Illustrations by Edmund Birckhead Bensell. Cathair na Mart: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-904808-65-7 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95.

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Now, there’s no use in denying that Davy was frightened. The fact is, he was frightened almost out of his wits, particu­larly when he saw that the little man, still smiling furiously, was carefully picking the hottest and reddest embers out of the fire, and, after cracking them like nuts with his teeth, eating them with great relish. Davy watched this alarming meal, expecting every moment to see the little man burst into a blaze and disappear; but he finished his coals in safety, and then, nodding cheerfully at Davy, said: “I know you!”    
“Do you?” said Davy, faintly.    
“Oh, yes!” said the little man. “I know you perfectly well. You are the little boy who doesn’t believe in fairies, nor in giants, nor in goblins, nor in anything the story-books tell you.”    
Now the truth was that Davy, having never met any giants when he was out walking, nor seen any fairies peeping out of the bushes in the garden, nor found any goblins sitting on the bedposts about the house, had come to believe that all these kinds of people were purely imaginary beings, so that now he could do nothing but stare at the little man in a shamefaced sort of way and wonder what was coming next.    
“Now, all that—” said the little man, shaking his finger at him in a reproving way, “—all that is very foolish and very wrong. I’m a goblin myself—a hobgoblin—and I’ve come to take you on a Believing Voyage.”    
Davy and the Goblin

Davy and the Goblin appeared first in serialized form in the children’s periodical St Nicholas beginning in 1884; it was published in book form first in 1885 and remained in print for over 40 years.

The story begins on Christmas Eve when eight-year-old Davy drowses by the fireplace reading Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Soon he meets a Goblin who transforms the family longcase clock into a boat, beginning Davy on a “believing voyage” where he meets the Butterscotchmen, Mother Hubbard, the Giant Badorful, Robin Hood (and his daughter Little Red Riding), Robinson Crusoe, and other charming characters.

Davy and the Goblin’s use of nonsense and punning places it firmly amongst those works influenced by Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland; its fastpaced, kaleidoscopic narrative gives it an American flavour which foreshadows much fantastic literature of the twentieth century.

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2011-02-14

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