... "and then the different branches of Arithmetic-- Ambition, Distraction, Uglification, and Derision."
(Alice in Wonderland, chapter IX: the Mock Turtle's story)
As a child I wondered for a long time what was the exact meaning of the above partition of Arithmetics quoted in the strange Mock turtle's speech. Today, I like to think it refers to that unpleasant circumstance many of us experienced sometimes: I want to get a certain difficult result (Ambition) but there is a fatal error somewhere in my argument, or computation (Distraction) and when I realize it, the construction miserably falls (Uglification) with a inner feeling of scorn (Derision). A sort of micro - Greek tragedy. Is that what Lewis Carrol really had in mind? It is possible, as he was a mathematician himself, but then did he refer to a precise incident? Did he left any comment on that passage? Has anybody quoted that passage in this meaning later?