My response is not a puzzle, but an over-interpretation. Lewis Carolls own proposed answer to the Raven/writing table riddle was offered in a preface to the later 1865 edition of the Lewis Carolls novel, but openly admitted that the answer was not intended at first. The Mad Hatter poses this baffling riddle in Lewis Carrolls books, but Caroll never provided the answer in his original texts. Carroll was playing with lies, and so asked this riddle knowing full well that people would attempt to come up with an answer which, of course, either did not exist, or was simply too easy to take.
I think Lewis Carol used the riddle as Carrolls homage, since Poe is the character that is always wondering whether or not he is crazy, just like The Mad Hatter. In Lewis Carrolls interpretation, he wrote Never As Nevar, since it is a reversal of Raven, the kind of reflective writing that Carroll was so fond of. It was not until fairly recently that it was realized Carrolls spelling nevar was wrong, intentionally; it is backwards from raven, and part two of the answer to that puzzle does not match either a raven or writing table, which has baffled scholars.
We do not know when Carroll became acquainted with Edgar Alan Poes essay from 1846, but given Lewis Carrolls teen-aged active desire to become a writer, it is likely he was exposed to Poes essay at as young as 14, and had up to 19 years in which to think about the regressive raven, as well as nevar backwards, and about what could have been, as the logical equivalent, ever-forwards, before he worked out his puzzlers desk. We do not know when Carroll became familiar with Edgar Alan Poes 1846 essay, but considering that the teenaged Lewis Carroll actively aspired to be a writer, it is possible that he was exposed to Poes essay as early as age 14, and that he had as many as 19 years within which to reflect on backward ravens, and ravens that were nevar backwards, and of what might be, as a logical equivalent, always forwards, before he crafted his raven writing desk riddle. The Mad Hatter asked Alice the riddle at their famous Tea Party.
This puzzling Mad Hatters riddle is definitely different from the immensely simple (Wonderland, p.182; see below) that Alice was given by Lewis Carrolls writing in reverse, to a childhood friend, which had to be read through a mirror. Significantly, the solution that I offer to this confusing riddle The Mad Hatter is also indicative of a vexing puzzle about two of Lewis Carrolls contrasting personalities, as well as about Charles Lutwidge Dodgsons apparently drab mathematical tutor at Oxford.
Many like to come up with ridiculous answers to riddles, turning a weird puzzle on its head. The riddle is well known, though it is a rarefied sort of famous, meaning that most people have never heard of it. The intended, though, is only a post-thought; The Riddle, as it was initially invented, has no answers at all.
Since the Riddle was intended without an answer, Carrolls later-years solution is not canonical any more than any others. From Martin Gardners The Annotated Alice, we know Carroll did not intend for there to be an answer. Sometime later, because of the popularity of the puzzle without answers, Carroll provided his own answers; which – interestingly enough – included a reversed pun, that was accidentally corrected by a copyeditor who did not understand it.
Carroll intended for the riddle to be answerless, but it is probable his second thought was about how he could make the riddle that, if spoken, explained the properties of time, and that time alone would solve the riddle, without realizing it would be solved 150 years after its initial proposal. We here at 5 Minute Crafts decided to collect the most popular versions of the answer in an effort to shed some light on this popular riddle. Since Preston Manor contains many Victorian-era desks, and Booth Museum of Natural History was able to supply me with a taxidermied raven, we thought it would be better fun to present the unanswerable Lewis Carroll riddle about the raven, with Preston Manors summer visitors keeping pencils and paper on hand.
Back in the 30s, the first time my mom picked up my mothers copy of Lewis Carrolls Dog-Eared Work, I asked her why the raven was similar to the writing table. I am not sure why the people above are posting comments about Carrolls work and the raven, when the real issue is not about how it is like the other works, it is about why the raven is like a writing desk. The second assumption, that a raven is like the writing desk because a raven is put nevars in the front, the wrong way around, is, to me, the most significant proof that Carrolls claim is really a set of hints, as, as nice and clever as that is, it lacks a proper writing-desk association.
The words in the puzzle are deliberately nonsensical; as is a raven being (unlike) a writing desk. The raven and the writing desk are similar to one another in that one may pose as many questions as one wishes, and one may approach them as many ways as one wishes, and yet both never succeed in giving one an answer. Carroll also wrote Never As nevar, which is the word for raven written backwards, according to Gizmodo, but a proofreader deleted this clever pun.
To put a stop to the angst over ceaseless probing letters from fans, however, Lewis Carroll went ahead and thought up a response, which is. After publication, Lewis Carroll was bombarded by letters from ardent fans of Alices Adventures in Wonderland, looking for an answer to the famous puzzle.