43

The public saw the plays were fiction, perhaps even a warning against witchcraft, and the magic in them is divorced of religious overtones. It is noteworthy that the two Shakespeare plays which deal most overtly with magic, Macbeth and The Tempest were both written during the reign of King James I. James was an enthusiastic believer in the dangers of ...


18

That went a lot further down the rabbit-hole than I expected. There doesn't seem to be a lot of agreement on the origin of the phrase. It wouldn't seem like it would be a very old reference, since tobacco was introduced to Korea in the early 1600s. This Reddit post claims that it comes from an earlier phrase about eating the tobacco and might actually have ...


16

"Torch dance" is the translation of Fackeltanz. The Fackeltanz is similair to the polonaise but the dancers hold torches or candles in their hands and move according to fixed patterns. There is nothing indecent about this dance. In fact, it was still danced at the wedding of emperor Wilhelms II's daughter Viktoria Luise with Ernst August zu ...


15

Colleen is the Anglicised version of the Irish Gaelic cailín, meaning young woman or maid. Derivation: caile (“maid”) +‎ -ín (diminutive suffix) Although girls are sometimes named Colleen, in the context of the lyric it shouldn't have a capital C. The New English-Irish dictionary has other usages.


10

It's not the 20th of May specifically - we have our own calendar, which is used alongside the western Gregorian calendar. Since dates don't map precisely you often find that we talk about dates in the Tamil system with the corresponding western dates. However the important context here is "with only three more auspicious dates" - there are specific dates, ...


9

At the end of the 19th century Arnold Böcklin was a well-known painter. Die Gefilde der Seligen, apparently the painting the book refers to, had been commissioned in 1876 by the National Gallery. After its exhibition caused a public scandal it was quickly removed: The female nudity in the foreground, the provocative wild virility of the centaur carrying the ...


9

Note As mentioned in the comments, a challenge was posted contesting the content of this answer. I answered the challenge with multiple real-world usages and the alleged origins of the expression. I'm linking it here as it serves as a further elaboration of this answer. I want to add a counteranswer here, not because I think Sean's answer is wrong, but ...


8

You don't know how funny it is to read this. This requires both cultural knowledge of Korea as well as the language. The "Heavenly Lord" or in this context is formally called Haneulnim (하늘님, "Heavenly King"). "Heaven" in this context is not the afterlife, but the literal sky and everything in the sky. I'm not too sure on the ...


8

As this article explains, The basic manoeuvre is a sucking of air through the teeth from behind pursed lips – or as academics describe it, a "velaric ingressive airstream involving closure at two points in the mouth". But thereafter there is nuance. There is the short, sharp kiss from the front teeth on either side. Usually this denotes minor ...


7

It's a bit of an odd translation - but the actual proverb goes: சேற்றில கல்லெறிஞ்சா அது மூஞ்சிலே தெறிக்கும் If you throw a stone at mud, it will splatter on your face. Apparently it is Tamil, but not specifically unique to the Tamil-Brahmin culture, who have a few linguistic quirks of their own. There's a less polite version that seems a better fit: ...


7

I'll only address the question from the translation requirement POV: what would you call a person who uses fetishes for magic, given the culture is African (as opposed to, say, Haitian), but in the context of Western literature? Given various factors, I feel this would be more appropriate than actually giving a nuanced description of such a person in ...


7

The comment doesn't need to reference a real painting to make sense in the context of the novel, but some searching shows that Fontane had a particular painting in mind. Since Hesiod, Elysium has also been known as the "Isles of the Blessed" or the "Fortunate Isles" and there are several paintings and artworks that have been inspired by ...


6

I found an explanation of "kissing teeth" in a blog post by Azizi Powell on Pancocojams, a blog which (in its own words) showcases the customs of people of Black descent throughout the world. In this post, she explains something about the history of the term and the various different words which can be used for it in different parts of the ...


5

Norse myth associates the east with evil... From the Voluspa, 1999 Larrington translation: From the east falls, from poison valleys a river of knives and swords, Cutting it is called (stanza 36) In the east sat an old woman in Iron-wood and nurtured there offspring of Fenrir; a certain one of them in monstrous form will be the snatcher of the moon (...


4

According to George Z. Gasyna, Trans-Atlantuk (...) parodies utopian landscapes of collectivities and dismantles the cultural conditions that call for them. Gombrowicz's second novel, further, embarks on a linguistic satire (as well as a spectacular gloss on) the strongly escapist movement of seventeenth-century Poland known as Sarmatian baroque. The work ...


4

@Tsundoku writes: "He is teasing Effi with the idea that marriage does not lead to a blessed or happy state, so she should at least get a glimpse of it before she gets married." Not quite. Dagobert is teasing Effi with a reference to a painting that has been taken down later because it was thought obscene. So there is an erotic undertone in his ...


3

Nysa was a mythological region where Dionysus was said to have been raised. While it migrated a lot, a city in India -- probably Nagara -- told Alexander that it had been founded by Dionysus, and he renamed it Nysa. (I note that Alexander the Great not only conquered portions of India, he caused enough Greek settlement and influence to produce Yavanarajya, ...


3

when Koreans say "back when tigers smoked," this is kind of the equivalent of Americans saying "long ago, when dinosaurs used to roam the Earth" except that dinosaurs actually existed and we're not sure if tigers ever smoked. It just means to say that it was a very long ago. A lot of Korean folktales have to do with tigers if you have ...


3

According to the Metzler Lexikon literartischer Symbole ("Metzler Lexicon of Literary Symbols"), edited by Günter Butzer and Joachim Jacob (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler, 2012), the east has been a symbol for three things: salvation, barbarism and the uncivilised, threat. Three real-world phenomena contributed to these meanings: the association of ...


3

He says that England is an exaggerated case of the general view: ...this cultural divide is not just an English phenomenon: it exists all over the western world. But it probably seems at its sharpest in England, for two reasons. One is our fanatical belief in educational specialisation, which is much more deeply ingrained in us than in any ...


3

Anglicanism is somehow 'between' Catholicism and Protestantism. To answer your first question, the phrase "via media" means "the middle road", and one of the commonest contexts where this phrase is used is to describe the Church of England as a "via media" between the Catholic Church and the various Protestant churches. The above-linked Wikipedia page for ...


2

In Ancient Greece the East (Anatolia, the "Orient") was stereotyped as a place of richness, wealth, immorality, power, luxury - the opposite of a more austere and humble life, but more virtuous, that the non-Anatolian (western) Greeks would live. Anatolia had rich states (Lydia) and its wealth came also to the Greek cities nearby. The oldest reference I know ...


2

The bowl's significance is that it is used to practise chāyā dān, chhayadan or chaaya daan (depending on the transcription). In Northern India, the chāyā dān can be part of one of the seven pheras of Hindu weddings, as explained in Gloria Goodwin Raheja's study The Poison in the Gift: Ritual, Prestation, and the Dominant Caste in a North Indian Village (...


2

From the Wikipedia entry for Colleen: Colleen is a common English language name of Irish-American origin and a generic term for Irish women or girls, from the Irish cailín 'unmarried girl/woman', the diminutive of caile 'woman, countrywoman'. (My emphasis)


2

The Roman god Bacchus and his Greek counterpart Dionysos have long been associated with Nysa. The names Dionysos and Nysa are said to be etymologically related, though the exact connection is unclear. Bacchus / Dionysos was the son of Jupiter and Semele. The pregnant Semele unwisely asked to see Jupiter in his flaming form, the sight causing her to burn to ...


1

This is a partial answer, not definitive as I haven't been able to get my hands on a full unabridged translation of the original text of Ferdowsi's Shahnameh. Firstly, let's note that the era being described in this part of the Shahnameh is an ancient time in Persia before the Islamic conquest, when Zoroastrianism was the dominant and state religion. This is ...


1

"Whiskey in the Jar" (see Wikipedia and LiveAbout) is a traditional Irish folk song about a man who robs an army officer and then is betrayed by his lover. Originally an oral tradition with many variations, it has been recorded by various bands and singers in the 20th century. The origin of this song would have been during the time of British rule ...


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