Alice in Wonderland: Rule 42
I’m going to digress for a moment but I promise it will all come around to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (another great cult classic like Alice) the answer to “the great question… of Life, the Universe and Everything is…forty two.” The better question of course, is what the great question is. The great computer Deep Thought says, “So once you know what the question actually is, you’ll know what the answer means.”
On page 105, the King invokes rule 42, “All persons more than a mile high to leave the court.” The King wants Alice, who at the point has grown surprisingly large, to leave the court. Yet she fights back with logic,
Alice says, “…that’s not a regular rule: you invented it just now.”
“It’s the oldest rule in the book,” said the King.
“Then it ought to be Number One,” said Alice.
This scene immediately made me think of Douglas Adams‘s great answer, also 42. A little googling and I learned that the number 42 was significant to Lewis Carroll. The first Alice book had 42 illustrations! Do you think Douglas Adams chose 42 from Alice in Wonderland? What other meanings does the number 42 have?