Questions tagged [allusions]

Questions about references to other works, external incidents, etc. in literature. Use this tag with the relevant author and work tags if applicable.

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Is the story of Jill and Eustace meant to evoke that of Cain and Abel?

Towards the beginning of The Silver Chair, Eustace and Jill get into a little fight which culminates in Eustace falling off the cliff to his apparent death. “What are you doing, Pole? Come back — ...
Alex's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
493 views

Meaning of "Rustum" in Trollope's "Orley Farm"

Trollope in Orley Farm refers to "the wisest Rustums of the law." Who was the original Rustum? He had left that congress, though the wisest Rustums of the law from all the civilized ...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
159 views

Reference to Novalis in Ghérasim Luca's poem "La Poésie Pratique"

Ghérasim Luca's poem "La Poésie Pratique" / "Practical Poetry" contains the following lines: En pratiquant le bouche à bouche de mot à mot de « feu » le mort à « feu » vif d' « ...
Le Petit Nicolas's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
203 views

Who are the 'sweet Saterian dames'?

I came across a beautiful (and subtly extremely rude!) poem called 'A Present to a Lady' the other day, penned by that most prolific of poets, Anonymous. I think I understand all the references - ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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Which poet explained 'why sweet Hesper glows'?

I came across a rather good poem by Michael Field (actually a pseudonym for an incestuous aunt-and-niece literary double act) the other day, which begins 'Adown the Lesbian vales'. It's just a bit too ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
285 views

'Wild-bee hours' and 'wild-parrot days' in Sarojini Naidu's "A Rajput Love Song"

Sarojini Naidu's poem A Rajput Love Song has the stanza: Haste, O wild-bee hours, to the gardens of the sunset! Fly, wild-parrot day, to the orchards of the west! Come, O tender night, with your ...
CDR's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
462 views

What is the "love-god's string" in Sarojini Naidu's "A Song in Spring"?

Sarojini Naidu's "A Song in Spring" begins like this: Wild bees that rifle the mango blossom, Set free awhile from the love-god's string, Wild birds that sway in the citron branches, Drunk ...
Mithical's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
600 views

To what Mrs. Partingtons and to what martyrs of Chicago does Tucker allude in the first chapter of 'Individual Liberty'?

Benjamin Tucker writes in the first chapter, page 15, of Individual Liberty: And it is an ideal that can be as little advanced by the forcible expropriation recommended by John Most and Prince ...
John Smith's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
179 views

What is the "black sphinx" in Greek magical papyrus IV?

In the Greek magical papyri (Papyri Graecae Magicae or PGM), lines 2307–2314 of papyrus IV were translated into English by Hans Dieter Betz as follows: The hair of a virgin cow, the seed of Pan Fire ...
Arash Howaida's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
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Who is Mrs Muggeridge in this essay on Kafka?

In a 1987 essay, Kafka at Las Vegas, English playwright Alan Bennett writes about Franz K from various everyday perspectives, both historical and contemporary. It's a way of sidling up to the Czech ...
Adam Burke's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
132 views

What deeds are emblematized by the cypress and myrtle in Byron’s “The Bride of Abydos”?

Byron’s poem The Bride of Abydos (1813) begins: Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle     Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime? What deeds are these trees emblems of? What myth ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
237 views

Biblical reference in Francis Bacon's essay: Background and significance

The first creature of God, in the works of the days, was the light of the sense; the last was the light of reason; and his sabbath work, ever since, is the illumination of his Spirit. First, he ...
Dia's user avatar
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In 《猫城记》 (Cat Country), is 迷叶 an allusion to opium?

I'm re-reading the Chinese novel 《猫城记》 by 老舍. On page 33, referring to the cat people of cat country, it says: 五百年前,他们是种地收粮,不懂什么叫迷叶。忽然有个外国人把它带到猫国来。最初只有上等人吃得起,后来他们把迷树也搬运了来,于是大家全吃入了瘾。不到五十年的工夫,...
Rebecca J. Stones's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
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Of what trumpery, of what dormant statute does Swift write in "An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity"?

An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity begins with following: It is further objected against the Gospel system that it obliges men to the belief of things too difficult for Freethinkers, and ...
John Smith's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
95 views

Allusions in a double dactyl by George Starbuck

In June 1969, George Starbuck published the following double-dactyl in The Atlantic: SAID J. Alfred Prufrock to Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, “What ever happened to Senlin? Ought-nine.” “One with the passion ...
geometrian's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
293 views

What passage of the Book of Malachi does Milton refer to in chapter VI, book I of "The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce"?

In book one, chapter VI, of The Doctrine & Discipline of Divorce, it is written: If Solomons advice be not overfrolick, Live joyfully, saith he, with the wife whom thou lovest, all thy dayes, for ...
John Smith's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
545 views

Why specify Mr. Berry looked into the brass like Snow White's queen in Ellison's "The Black Ball"?

My literature class assigned "The Black Ball" by Ralph Ellison. The strange white man offering a card for a union meeting has just left, and John's boss Mr. Berry has come to check on his ...
bobble's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
48 views

What is the significance of the dogs being named Hamlet and Ophelia?

In The Dragon Heir, from Cinda Williams Chima's The Heir Chronicles, Madison has two golden retrievers who are named Hamlet and Ophelia. One does not name anything "Hamlet" in a book by ...
bobble's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
229 views

"Hamlet" reference in "Crime and Punishment": translator's invention?

I am reading Pevear & Volokhonsky's translation of Crime and Punishment. In part II, chapter 6, Raskolnikov is at the "Crystal Palace" restaurant, where he runs into the clerk Zamyotov ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
152 views

Is this an allusion to Shakespeare's Tempest

In Jean-Luc Godard's film Hélas pour moi at time stamp 1:16:38 one of the characters reads from a text in French which the subtitles translate to: Thus disappeared all the worlds, the ports and ...
bobsmith76's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
128 views

Is this line from "Stalker" an allusion to Shakespeare?

In Tarkovsky's Stalker one character states: Well done, citizen Shakespeare. It’s frightening to go forward; it’s a shame to go back. This further reminded me of the passage from Hart Crane's ...
bobsmith76's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
108 views

Is the "wall of solitude" a reference to Pink Floyd's "The Wall"?

Death and the Penguin contains the following quote: He thought suddenly of Nina and her saying that they had been seeing Sergey off at the station. So he had, after all, gone to Moscow, without so ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
70 views

Why is Happy Buddha playing the "Titanic" theme in "How to Be Chinese"?

This is some description of the restaurant Happy Buddha from the short story "How to Be Chinese". Bolding is mine. Look around to see what it’s like in a real Chinese restaurant. The ...
bobble's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
262 views

What does “Hoti’s business” refer to, in Browning’s ‘A Grammarian’s Funeral’?

Robert Browning’s ‘A Grammarian’s Funeral’, first published in Men and Women (1855), describes some of the grammarian’s achievements: He settled Hoti’s business—let it be!—       Properly based Oun— ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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Did O. Henry allude to Tom Sawyer in "The Gift of the Magi"?

Sidney Porter (O. Henry) was a contemporary of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain). They died the same year; Porter attended Clemens' funeral a few months before his own death. Was Porter referring to Twain's ...
B. Clay Shannon-B. Crow Raven's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
191 views

Allusion in Nabokov's Pnin

In chapter 3, section 6 of Nabokov's Pnin, the main character is carrying a reference work "mainly devoted to Tolstoyana" across the Waindell campus when he drops it by accident: Pnin, on ...
Kevin Troy's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
105 views

Who are these historical people alluded to by R.A. Lafferty?

In "The Six Fingers of Time", by R. A. Lafferty, available for free here on Project Gutenberg, there is a claim that having an extra finger or toe is associated with genius. The text gives ...
Peter Shor's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
121 views

In Mary Tighe's Psyche, what is the gemstone referred to by allusion?

In Mary Tighe's "Psyche", Canto 1, lines 413 - 414 (see the text), a gemstone is referred to by allusion to an episode in mythology. To quote, And there the gem which bears his luckless ...
Ethan's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
20 views

What is the meaning of the reference to a young contemporary author?

At the beginning of Jorge Amado's novel The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray (A Morte e a Morte de Quincas Berro d'Água, 1959), the narrator seems to allude to something a young contemporary author ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
257 views

Is there anything deeper about the comparisons between Queenie and the Red Queen in "Code Name Verity"?

There's a sequence in Code Name Verity where one of the main characters, called "Queenie" here, is compared to the Red Queen. The time period is WWII. A future version of Queenie is the one &...
bobble's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
163 views

In "Sordello", how do we know the rejected spirit is Shelley?

In book I of Sordello (1840) by Robert Browning, the speaker addresses a group of spirits, Summoned together from the world’s four ends, Dropped down from heaven or cast up from hell, To hear the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
144 views

Is this Atlas Shrugged quote a deliberate Biblical reference?

Matthew 25:21 (NIV): His master replied, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
1k views

Is there any significance in the cry "Euan, euan, eu-oi-oi-oi" in Prince Caspian?

In Prince Caspian, there's a passage where Aslan apparently uses his power to summon up the spirit of Old Narnia, leading to the eventual defeat of the Telmarines with very little bloodshed. A wild ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
337 views

Is Keats' swan with "neck of arched snow" an allusion to Milton's "swan with arched neck"?

I discovered something quite interesting today in John Milton's Paradise Lost. Here is Milton (this is the Archangel Raphael relating to Adam and Eve the creation of the world):                       ...
Solomon's user avatar
  • 99
2 votes
1 answer
136 views

Do the opening lines of Frost’s poem “After Apple-Picking” contain a biblical reference?

Robert Frost's poem ‘After Apple-Picking’, collected in North of Boston (1914), is a well-known poem on man’s encounter with the natural world, probing the dilemma of his existence. The first two ...
Knight wants Loong back's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
40 views

Does Muriel Barbery's title "The Elegance of The Hedgehog" reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism?

Does Muriel Barbery's title The Elegance of The Hedgehog reflect knowledge of Archilochus' aphorism? Is there information or proof that Barbery had Archilocus' aphorism in mind?
Stanley Dorman's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
417 views

How do we know that Shelley's "Adonais" refers to Byron and Moore?

In every site I've seen that analyzes Shelley's Adonais, they all agree that in the following stanza the "Pilgrim of Eternity" refers to Byron. Here is one example: From stanza 30 to 35, ...
bobsmith76's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
153 views

Identifying allusions in Eric Jarosinski's poem "TWEET"

The attached picture is a poem by Eric Jarosinski in which he masterfully alluded to some literary and artistic works. Transcription of picture: TWEET The Tweet is not a genre. Rather: it is a frame. ...
Tayyab's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
403 views

Does Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's novel Vishabriksha have a special meaning in Tagore's Chokher Bali?

Rabindranath Tagore's novel Chokher Bali makes a few references to Bankim Chandra Chatterjee's novel Vishabriksha or The Poison Tree, which was first published in 1873. (The passages below are quoted ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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5 votes
0 answers
467 views

Who is the 'one who had lifted it' in Shelley's sonnet about 'the painted veil'?

In Shelley's famous sonnet, which begins 'Lift not the painted veil', the "turn" is placed - unusually - in the seventh line. Lift not the painted veil which those who live Call Life: ...
Tom Hosker's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
8k views

What movie is Holden describing?

In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden describes a movie: It was about this English guy, Alec something, that was in the war and loses his memory in the hospital and all. He comes out of the hospital ...
Stormblessed's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
2k views

Allusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451?

I have been told there is an allusion to Plato in Fahrenheit 451. The name "Plato" is mentioned once, but I don't think it counts as an allusion. He dialled the call on a secondary phone. ...
M. C.'s user avatar
  • 281
9 votes
1 answer
179 views

What's with the reference to "Alice in Wonderland" in Nalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat"?

Nalo Hopkinson's "The Reverse Cheshire Cat" is obviously making a reference to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, with the Cheshire Cat. The two protagonists enter a shop named "The Reverse Cheshire ...
Mithical's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
164 views

Stendhal reference in Michael Herr's "Dispatches"

In Michael Herr's book about the Vietnam War, Dispatches, he describes Operation Pegasus—the relief of the besieged USMC garrison at Khe Sahn in 1968—in the following way: Pegasus was almost ...
rwjones's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
192 views

What's the source for the allusion of 'mere vessels of happiness'?

Source: Benatar, David. Better Never to Have Been (2008 1 edn). pp. 36 Bottom - 37 Top.   The judgements supported by the asymmetry of (3) and (4) are not universally shared. For example, ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
160 views

Allusion by Albert Camus to another author

In Camus's essay The Sea Close By there's a sentence: This life rebellious to forgetfulness, rebellious to memory, of which Stevenson speaks. (page 5 of Penguin Classics 2013). Can anyone tell ...
Simon K's user avatar
  • 223
3 votes
1 answer
728 views

Why could Cú Chulainn not recognise his own son?

I was reading WB Yeats play On Baile's Strand in which the protagonist Cú Chulainn kills a young man whom he later recognizes as his son. How did he not recognize him earlier? Fintain, a character in ...
Arkady's user avatar
  • 133
8 votes
1 answer
111 views

What is the "Eastern wolf" in this poem?

I'm reading through J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fall of Arthur and in I.29 - I.33 it says [...] But what foe dareth war here to wake or the walls assail of this island-realm while Arthur liveth, ...
auden's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
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Is the speaker with an on-off switch a reference to Orwell?

I'm intrigued by this passage in Lois Lowry, The Giver, chapter 10. He watched as the man rose and moved first to the wall where the speaker was. It was the same sort of speaker that occupied a ...
b_jonas's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
286 views

Vision of the future in Max Beerbohm's "Enoch Soames"

Max Beerbohm's 1916 novelette "Enoch Soames" (available e.g. at Project Gutenberg) is the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil for the privilege of spending an afternoon in a library (the ...
user14111's user avatar
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