Michael Csányi-Wills

Lewis Carroll’s Phantasmagoria

Lewis Carroll’s “Phantasmagoria” (1869) is written in seven cantos and is a conversation between a ghost and a man named Tibbets.
Canto 1. The Trystyng is the meeting between the ghost and the narrator in which they become acquainted. The narrator has come home one evening to find something “white and wavy” in his dimly lit room. Hearing a sneeze, he addresses the ghost, a shy creature who has caught a cold, he says, “out there upon the landing”. The cordial exchange allays the narrator’s apprehensions, the narrator’s hospitality is appreciated by the ghost, and a conversation ensues.
Canto 2. Hys Fyve Rules
Here he describes the Five Good Rules of Etiquette that ghosts are required to obey.
Canto 3. Scarmoges
The ghost talks about different classes of ghosts and their hierarchy. He describes Inspector Kobold of the Spectre order, who spends his time at inns where port is served and is thus known as the “Inn-Spectre”. The narrator tolerates the pun, but when the ghost criticises the narrator’s house as “neither snug nor spacious”, and complains about his host’s food, wine, and cigars, the narrator objects angrily!
Canto 4. Hys Nouryture
Hailing from a long line of ghosts, the Phantom tells Tibbets about his family tree.
Canto 5. Byckerment
The ghost continues to explain how ghosts haunt houses, and mentions that he operates under the authority of the Knight-Mayor. When the narrator says he doesn’t know the Knight-Mayor the ghost tells him, “Either you never go to bed, Or you’ve a grand digestion!”
Canto 6. Dyscomfyture
The ghost discovers he has the wrong house and is not at Tibbs’ house but Tibbets’, which makes the
Phantom very angry indeed! “Why couldn’t you have told me so Three quarters of an hour ago?
You king of all the asses!”
When the narrator objects that he is not to blame for the ghost’s carelessness, the ghost quickly calms down, accepts responsibility for his mistake, and thanks Tibbets for his hospitality. The scene ends with the two shaking hands.
Canto 7. Sad Souvenaunce
The Phantom leaves and nothing can bring him back which leaves he narrator weeping…so he makes himself a drink and sings a “Coronach