Having fun with hidden eggs
Traditionally an Easter egg hunt happens when children set about finding Easter eggs hidden by adults – an activity that combines a game with tradition. Yes we know it’s June, but bear with us.
When computer giant Atari concealed game programmer’s name Warren Robinett in its video game Adventure the term Easter egg was broadened for the first time to also mean an intentional hidden message or inside joke in a computer program (and now in DVDs as well). But they’ve been around as nameless gags for a long time now – you only need to think of Alfred Hitchcock’s cameo appearance in every one of his movies for a quick example.
More vocab-relevant are literary Easter eggs. They range from the casually harmless to the really complex and deep and, while they are not crucial to the plot or the meaning of a book, if you discover one your reading experience becomes all the more enjoyable.
In his Sherlock Holmes short story, The Copper Beeches, protagonist Violet Hunter lives in a street called Montague Place. This is the same street where the story’s author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, lived.
The well-loved Asterix comics poke fun at ancient and current customs and politics, spoofing everything, including the fall of the BerlinWall. The comics are rife with cameos: Cleopatra is drawn as Liz Taylor; Kirk Douglas is a Roman slave Spartak is in Asterix and Obelix All At Sea; and Winston Churchill turns up as English chieftain ‘Myking domforanos’ (spoofing the Richard III line “My kingdom for a horse!”) in Asterix in Britain.
On the other hand Tintin author Hergé incorporated his own visage in crowd scenes, every chance he got.
The granddaddy of them all is surely Lewis Carroll, who slyly proclaimed his genius as a mathematician throughout the Alice books, especially Alice’s Adventures inWonderland. It took even prolific science writer Martin Gardner a whole book ( The Annotated Alice) to write about these Easter Eggs.
A striking example and more literary Easter eggs next week!