Just when you may have thought that J.K. Rowling couldn’t get any more epic in her literary insults, she channels Lewis Carroll (pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) with her most recent response to President Trumps nonsensible tweet:
‘Contrariwise,’ continued Tweedledee, ‘if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.’
Lewis Carroll, ‘Through the Looking Glass’ pic.twitter.com/EedPNjjn7r
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 31, 2018
It’s not the first time that Rowling has tweeted a tauntingly insulting tweet in response to a Trump post, and it probably won’t be the last. This most recent Tweedledee tweet may become one of our favorites, though. Just look at what she’s saying.
The Origins of Tweedledee & Tweedledum
In Lewis Carroll’s books (and in all the many adaptations) Tweedledee is an obnoxious, nonsensical figure, even childish. The other half of the pair is Tweedledum, and they appear in Through the Looking Glass as the nursery rhyme from 1805 rings through Alice’s head “like the ticking of a clock”:
“Tweedledum and Tweedledee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
As black as a tar-barrel;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.”
Of course, the origin of the names date back to John Byrom’s 18th century epigram, which references the rivalry between George Frideric Handel and Giovanni Bononcini:
“Some say, compar’d to Bononcini
That Mynheer Handel’s but a Ninny
Others aver, that he to Handel
Is scarcely fit to hold a Candle
Strange all this Difference should be
‘Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee!”
Adaptations and illustrators have taken the images of Tweedledee and Tweedledum in all sorts of interesting directions. Sir John Tenniel (illustrator) saw them as twins, and Martin Gardner saw them as enantiomorphs — three-dimensional mirror images.
Comparative Insults We See
Of course, some of the greatest writes in literature have used the names: Tweedledee and Tweedledum. James Joyce used the names to reference the rivalry between Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung.
Then, in political realms, Helen Keller once said, “Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.” Then, of course, Ralph Nader called George W. Bush and Al Gore by the names Tweedledum and Tweedledee in the 2000 US Presidential election.
Ah, the stories go on and on. It’s pretty clear, though, that Rowling has just made one of the most memorable Tweedledee insults yet… and we’ll follow her through the lookingglass wherever her words will take us.