We mentioned in class today that Alice's conversation with the unicorn epitomizes our entrance in the dreamlike world Carroll tries to create. So I started wondering how this fictional, fantastic character became such a universal symbol of imagination. Apparently, it's origin stems back to ancient times, and references to a unicorn or a unicorn-like being are found both in Western and Eastern traditions. Here's an article that talks about the beloved creature!http://monsters.monstrous.com/unicorns.htm

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  1. Unknown User (snl4)

    I'm so happy that you posted something about the original unicorn myth.  I have always loved the idea of the original, bloodthirsty unicorn legend.  There is an interesting series of books that I have read that is about a 21st-century descendent of Alexander the Great.  She is a virgin, which makes her one of the few women alive with the ability to kill the vicious unicorns.  The author is Diana Peterfreund, and she has done tremendous research on the unicorn myth.  She even includes several breeds of unicorns in her books, from a Chinese, goat-size unicorn called the zhi to a rhinoceros-sized unicorn called the karkadann.  Her books also include the legend that Alexander the Great's Bucephalus was not a horse, but a karkadann.  Here is a link to her book page as well as her page detailing all her unicorn research.

    The Killer Unicorns Series

    Peterfreund's Unicorn Research


    Carroll's unicorn is almost certainly not a karkadann (though imagine what a more terrifying and dramatic his battle with the lion would be if he was).  He is probably drawing on the Medieval, Christian unicorn (mentioned on Peterfreund's page).  Most interpretations of the Lion vs. Unicorn fight claim that it draws on the England (Lion) vs. Scotland (Unicorn) animosity, though John Tenniel's illustrations even suggest a more specific rivalry between two members of Parliament whose arguments were well-known.  Do you think Carroll might have been aware of all the different myths surrounding the unicorn, or was this chapter in "Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There" exclusively based on the England vs. Scotland political relationship?