Why Is A Raven Like A Writing Desk?

Hello, Alphonse. I’ve got a riddle for you: Why is a raven like a writing desk? — Krusty, “Krusty Gets Kancelled”

The first few lines of Krusty’s ill-plotted ventriloquism set hint at a brain teaser introduced by the Mad Hatter in Alice In Wonderland:

The Hatter opened his eyes very wide on on hearing this; but all he said was, “Why is a raven like a writing-desk?”…
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied. “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.

Though Lewis Carroll never intended for the riddle to have an answer, readers went after it with gusto, forcing the author to include a preface in subsequent Alice printings:

Enquiries have been so often addressed to me, as to whether any answer to the Hatter’s Riddle can be imagined, that I may as well put on record here what seems to me to be a fairly appropriate answer,: “Because it can produce a few notes, though they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!”. This, however, is merely an afterthought; the Riddle as originally invented, had no answer at all.

Cop-out, if you ask me. The people over at The Straight Dope analyze the riddle in-depth, presenting a few potential answers. The best one is probably that put forth by mathematician/puzzlesmith Sam Loyd: because Poe wrote on both. Gear!

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One Response to Why Is A Raven Like A Writing Desk?

  1. tschill says:

    Nah, the best answer is Aldous Huxley’s: “Because there is a B in both and an N in neither.”

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