Back in the 30s, the first time my mom picked up my mothers copy of Lewis Carrolls Dog-Ears, I asked her why a raven was a kind of desk. 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. Perhaps the answer, keeping with the original intent, is why is the raven like the writing desk. The words in the puzzle are deliberately non-sensical; as the raven is that it is (unlike the writing desk.
The intention, though, is only a post-thought; the riddle, as 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. Carroll did not intend there to be an answer, but his own later offered the riddle answer in a revised edition of the book. Sometime after, because of the popularity of the riddle without an answer, Carroll offered his own answer; which – amusingly – included a reversed pun which was ad-libbed by a publisher who did not understand it.
The Mad Hatter asked this puzzling riddle in Lewis Carrolls books, but Carroll never provided an answer in his original texts. It is significant that the solution that I offer for This confusing riddle The Mad Hatter points to a thorny problem of two different personalities, of Lewis Carroll, an imaginative writer of childrens books, and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, an apparently boring Oxford mathematician. This confusing Mad Hatters riddle is hardly the immensely simple puzzle (Wonderland, p.182; see below) which Alice is told by Lewis Carroll to write a letter in reverse to a childhood friend, written backwards, which must be read with the aid of a mirror.
When Alice said Alice cannot answer a riddle, Mad Hatter eventually admitted the riddle had no solution. Later, when the Hatter asked a young Alice the riddle, she admitted that she had not worked the riddle out yet, and asked the Hatter to provide an answer. I believe that Lewis Carol uses the riddle as a link back to Carols, as Poe is a character that has always wondered whether he ismad, 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. Lewis Carolls himself suggested the answer to the raven/writing table riddle in a preface to the later 1865 edition of the Lewis Carolls novel, but he freely admitted no answer was intended at first.
We here at 5 Minute Crafts decided to collect the most popular versions of the answer in an effort to shed a little light on this popular puzzle. 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. Because a raven contains five letters that one would also reasonably expect to find on a writing table.
Carroll would write raven on a writing-desk, so it is not so silly that Poe wrote it both ways, since ChanDawn doubts very strongly that Poe wrote The Raven on a laptop in the bus terminal of London. A raven and a writing table are similar to one another in that you could ask either one of them any number of questions, any number of ways, and they could never give you an answer. The writer might as well have said that both the raven and writing desk are generally seen facing in the front.
Ultimately, one might say the true answer to this question is there is no answer. Just because one writer has offered one solution on their own does not mean many others have not offered others, either. Many like to offer ridiculous answers to puzzles, turning a weird puzzle on its head.
One of the best-known answers to the riddle comes from Sam Loyd, mathematician, chess master, and puzzle inventor. This riddle is famous, though it is a rarefied sort of famous, meaning that most people have never heard of it. I think there are a few big breakthroughs during writing, which are like the process of answering a riddle that was never meant to have an answer. Maybe in order to discover a true answer, we need to explore things beginning with the letter M, such as The Hatters and Mercury.