Page 104. " To the maize field "

Maize Field
Creative Commons AttributionMaize Field - Credit: Cathy, Sam, Max and Mai
 Maize, also known as corn, is a grain that was domesticated in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times.

The plant consists of a leafy stalk that produces ears with seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, many people consider corn to be a vegetable.


Corn Kernels
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCorn Kernels - Credit: Andrew Butko

Page 109. " Old Go, as Balzac's Père Goriot was titled in Chinese "

Le Père Goriot (1835) by Honoré de Balzac is set in Paris in 1819.

The novel follows three characters: a suspicious criminal named Vautrin; the elderly doting Goriot; and a law student named Eugène de Rastignac. Throughout the novel, Balzac analyzes the fundamentals of family and marriage at a critical time in French history. 

When released, the book generated widespread controversy.



Page 109. " A red beaked raven keeping watch "
Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax
Creative Commons AttributionPyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax - Credit: polandeze, Flickr

The bird is actually a red-billed chough, a member of the crow family.

Known for its long, bright red bill, Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax is found in mountainous areas around the British Isles, the Mediterranean, the Alps, as well as further east in China and India.

Page 110. " his four-volume masterpiece, Jean-Christophe "

Jean Christophe is a French fictional biography on Beethoven by Nobel Prize winner Romain Rolland (1866-1944).  It consists of 10 volumes:

  1. L'Aube ("Dawn", 1904)
  2. Le Matin ("Morning", 1904)
  3. L'Adolescent ("Youth", 1904)
  4. La Révolte ("Revolt", 1905)
  5. La Foire sur la place ("The Marketplace", 1908)
  6. Antoinette (1908)
  7. Dans la maison ("The House", 1908)
  8. Les Amies ("Love and Friendship", 1910)
  9. Le Buisson ardent ("The Burning Bush", 1911)
  10. La Nouvelle Journée ("The New Dawn", 1912)

Volumes 1-4 are grouped as Jean-Christophe, 5-7 as Jean-Christophe à Paris, and 8-10 as La fin du voyage. The main character, Jean-Christophe Krafft, is a German composer of Belgian descent.



Page 110. " Melville "
Herman Melville
Public DomainHerman Melville - Credit: Joseph O. Eaton

Herman Melville (1819–1891) was an American short story writer, poet, and essayist. His most renowned work is Moby Dick.

After his death his work was almost forgotten, and it was not until 25 years later, during the “Melville Revival”, that his work came to be appreciated fully.

Page 111. " Eugénie Grandet "

 Eugénie Grandet is a novel  by Honoré de Balzac written in 1833.

The book takes place in Saumur, France, and is about the miserliness of a young girl and the family troubles that attend her when her father kills himself and her uncle decides to send his nephew overseas to make his fortune.


Google Map


Page 111. " He calligraphed his name with a single brushstroke "

Calligraphy is an ancient art form, particularly celebrated in China. Artists use special writing tools and inks to render the alphabet beautiful.

Chinese calligraphy uses the exotic characters of the language to express powerful feelings.

Page 112. " such a dread of heights "

An extreme or irrational fear of heights is known as Acrophobia, and is one of the most widespread phobias. It is more common in women.

Acrophobia may be attributed to a traumatic experience in a person’s life, but is most commonly experienced as an inborn condition.

Page 118. " his assignation with the doom-laden red-beaked raven "

In Chinese mythology, the world originally had ten suns embodied as ten crows, which rose in the sky one at a time according to a strict rota. When all ten decided to rise at once for a change, the effect was devastating: crops were scorched and the earth laid waste. So the gods sent their greatest archer, Houyi, who shot down nine of the crows, leaving only one to light the world.

Throughout Chinese culture, crows have a negative connotation.


Page 120. " He'd take a little electric drill and bore into the tooth "

A dental drill is a small, high-speed drill used to remove decay or shape tooth structure before insertion of a filling or crown. A dental drill may also be used to clean and shape root canals, or to remove old or temporary fillings or crowns.

A dental drill consists of a "dental handpiece" and a power source, the "dental engine".

Page 124. " It is 1815, and we are in Marseilles "
Creative Commons AttributionMarseille - Credit: J. Elliott

 Marseille is the second largest city in France after Paris, with a population of 850,000. It is located on the southeast coast of France, and is the country's largest commercial port. Marseille is the capital of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur district, as well as the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhonoe district.


Google Map


Page 124. " He started out as Edmond Dantes, but later on he became the Count of Monte Cristo. "
Alexandre Dumas
Public DomainAlexandre Dumas - Credit: Gaspard-Félix Tournachon

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel written by Alexandre Dumas. It is considered to be one of his most popular work, along with The Three Musketeers. The novel was written in 1844. Like many of his novels, it is expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.

 The Count of Monte Cristo is primarily concerned with themes of hope, justice, vengance, mercy, and forgiveness. It is the story of a man wrongfully imprisoned, who escapes from jail, acquires a fortune, and sets about taking revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment. His vengeance brings devastation to both innocent and guilty.


Page 124. " It's another name for Jesus "

Jesus of Nazareth, commonly referred to as Jesus Christ, is the central figure of Christianity and is regarded as an important prophet in Islam. Most Christian denominations venerate him as the Son of God, who came to Earth in the form of man, born through the Virgin Mary. Christians believe he died for our sins, and that he rose from the dead after being crucified and ascended into heaven.

The principal sources of information about Jesus are the Bible's four canonical gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.