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He thought he saw an Elephant
—First stanza of "The Mad Gardener's Song", about the only part of Sylvie and Bruno that is widely known.
One of the lesser-known works of Lewis Carroll, this novel runs two parallel plots, one in something like the real world and one in Elf-land, both accessed by the not-particularly-interesting-in-himself narrator. The Elf-land plot involves the King standing down, for obscure reasons, in favour of his Most Definitely Not a Villain brother and "Sub-Warden", and his chancellor, leaving his two kids, the titular Sylvie and Bruno, as HeartWarmingOrphans. The sort-of-real world plot involves a romance slightly complicated by a third party and oddly unaffected by the presence of a visitor from another planet/plane called Mein Herr, who is for some reason German-accented.
This work contains examples of:
- Aliens Speaking English: Played with for Mein Herr.
- Blue Blood
- Children Are Innocent
- Closer to Earth: Sylvie and Lady Muriel.
- Crusty Caretaker
- Disney Fairies
- Doting Parent
- Dream Land: "Outland"
- Evil Chancellor: Somewhat unusually, he is only The Dragon to Sibimet.
- Evil Is Petty: Tabikat is most gratified to find that Sibimet has entirely removed "Item: We shall be kind to the poor" from the text of the agreement he made with the King.
Why, of course, my dear! We shan't bother with those wretches!
- Evil Uncle: Sibimet
- Good Is Boring: Unfortunately tends to apply to both plots. The memorable characters tend to be either evil or completely bonkers.
- Gossip Evolution:
"And what reasons have you heard of for breaking off the engagement?"
- How Do You Like Them Apples?
- Humans Are Morons: Mein Herr and the fairies both tend to agree on this.
- Inelegant Blubbering
- In Harm's Way
- It Was a Gift
- Karmic Transformation: Uggug becoming a porcupine.
- King Incognito
- Ludicrous Precision
- The Malaproper: Bruno, e.g. "disadvantages" becomes "lizard bandages".
- Nice to the Waiter
- Non-Idle Rich
- Offered the Crown
- Our Ghosts Are Different
- Powder Keg Crowd
- The Professor: Actually called the Professor. Also has a friend who is The Professor.
- The Promise
- Promotion to Parent: Sylvie is in charge of Bruno -- particularly his lessons.
- Punny Name: Tabikat.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: The Vice-Warden arranges for a false report of his brother's death.
- Royal Blood
- Royal Brat
- Sand in My Eyes
- Schrodinger's Butterfly:
"So, either I've been dreaming about Sylvie," I said to myself, "and this is the reality. Or else I've really been with Sylvie, and this is a dream! Is Life itself a dream, I wonder?"
- Significant Name: Sibimet is Latin for "to them themselves", fittingly for a character who is concerned only for himself and his Unholy Matrimony partner - he doesn't even seem to like his own child much.
- Spoiled Brat and Royal Brat: Uggug, who also serves as a Spear Counterpart of an ugly step-sister.
- Take That: Sibimet the Sub-Warden is believed to be based on Dean Liddell, father of Alice, whom he had by this point effectively cut Carroll off from seeing.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs
- Torches and Pitchforks: Memorably parodied by the fake demonstrators organized by Sibimet and the Chancellor, who can't remember whether their slogan is "More Bread, Less Taxes", or vice versa.
- Unholy Matrimony: Villain couple Sibimet and Tabikat, complete with cutesy couple names for each other (Sibby and Tabby), and a Spoiled Brat child (Uggug). Albeit Tabby is significantly less bright than Sibby, who is also not deluded about Uggug's unpleasantness.
- Vile Villain Saccharine Show