“…The scholar David Day has proposed Lewis Carroll’s cat was Edward Bouverie Pusey, Oxford professor of Hebrew and Carroll’s mentor.
The name Pusey was suggested by Alice’s deferential address of the cat as “Cheshire Puss”. Pusey was an authority on the fathers of the Christian Church, and in Carroll’s time Pusey was known as the Patristic Catenary (or chain), after the chain of authority of Church patriarchs.
As a mathematician, Carroll would have been well familiar with the other meaning of catenary: the curve of a horizontally-suspended chain, which suggests the shape of the cat’s grin.
Riddle: What kind of a cat can grin?
Answer: A Catenary.
— David Day, Queen’s Quarterly (2010)”
In Quill & Quire of November 9th, 2015, Nathan Whitlock writes:
“…As (David Day) dropped into Carroll’s topsy-turvy world, it quickly dawned on him that what generations of readers and scholars had taken as proto-psychedelic hijinks and random wordplay was actually what he calls a “memory palace” in which the author had embedded all of western thought, math, and science. “It’s like a computer game, only the clues are in the language,” Day says. “The more I read, the deeper it got…”
Day believes that Carroll set about embedding a complete classical education in the pages of a children’s fable specifically for the benefit of preteen Alice Liddell – the daughter of one of Carroll’s Oxford colleagues and the acknowledged model for the character of Alice – after Carroll had been barred from interacting with the girl following a mysterious indiscretion. Every scene of the story, and especially every name, is freighted with scholarly allusions and puns that bridge multiple disciplines. “I could teach the history of philosophy up to 1850 using Alice,” Day says. “And the same with mathematics.”
Decoded offers the complete text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland printed in the centre of each page. Flowing around it is Day’s commentary – sometimes crowding out Carroll’s story entirely – which demonstrates, for example, that the Cheshire Cat’s grin is based on a geometric curve called a catenary.
Scholars have, in the past, touched on some of the findings Day presents in his new work, but none have posited such an overarching connection among all the story’s elements. Day says this is because most researchers have looked at the book from a 20th- or 21st-century perspective. He, on the other hand, set about reading everything in Carroll’s private library, plus all of the author’s letters and diaries; he has, in essence, gotten inside the author’s mind. Instead of imposing an interpretation, he simply followed every twist of Carroll’s imagination and unpacked every pun. “Nobody’s come up with these things because nobody’s insane enough to do this,” Day says. “Everybody knows something about Alice, but they don’t know what they know.”…”
“From Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass (1871), where Alice is offered “jam to-morrow and jam yesterday — but never jam to-day”. *This is a pun on a mnemonic for the usage of jam, iam in Latin (note i/j conflation in Latin spelling), which means “now”, but only in the future or past tense, not in the present (which is instead nunc).”
From The Phrase Finder:
“Carroll (Charles Dodgson) would have been aware of the earlier 19th century usage of the word jam – as defined in John C. Hotten’s A dictionary of modern slang, cant, and vulgar words, 1859:
“Real jam, a sporting phrase, meaning anything exceptionally good.”
The popularity of the Alice books led to the wider use of jam and other phrases were coined in the early 20th century. Anything cushy or rewarding might have been described as ‘with jam on it’; for example, this item from Fraser and Gibbons’ Soldier and sailor words and phrases, 1925:
“‘You want jam on it’, that is, You expect too much.”
Easy money was called ‘money for jam’; for example, The Athenaeum, 1919 – “The great use of jam in the Army … originated a number of phrases, such as ‘money for jam’ (money for nothing).”
Socialists often used to ridicule the capitalist system as offering the empty promise of ‘Jam tomorrow’.”