42

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.


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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)


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 ...


1

I can't puzzle through the second proverb, and this is just my best guess on the first: The oil-bean tree looks to be fairly large and spread out. If you wanted to get all the fruit, you'd have to travel quite a bit around in its branches. Climbing up would thus be a metaphor for your impoverished birth family. You can't get much fruit (resources) from ...


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