Page 203. " a honeymoon on the Wild Coast. "

 

Xhosa children in Coffee Bay
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeXhosa children in Coffee Bay - Credit: Zakysant

 

 

The Wild Coast is a 300km stretch of largely unspoilt coastline between Port Elizabeth and Port Edward. The area is often referred to as the homeland of the Xhosa people and Nelson Mandela was born in the small village of Mvezo. During the apartheid years, the area made up part of the Transkei, a politically and economically indepenedent homeland.   

Coffee Bay, Wild Coast, South Africa
Creative Commons AttributionCoffee Bay, Wild Coast, South Africa - Credit: Jon Rawlinson

 

 

Page 209. " An image comes to him from the Inferno "

 

Inferno, the Italian word for hell, gave its name to the first part of Dante’s epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

In the poem, Dante is guided by Virgil through what are described as the nine circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery. After travelling through all nine circles, they are able to escape from hell and travel into Purgatio (purgatory), which represents the next part of the soul's spiritual journey.

 

A detailed website, which looks at The Divine Comedy in detail, is available here.

 

Page 209. " Du musst dein Leben ändern: you must change your life. "

 

Torso of Apollo (original ca. 460)
Public DomainTorso of Apollo (original ca. 460) - Credit: Bibi Saint-Pol

 

 

This line comes from a poem, Archaischer Torso Apollos (Archaic Torso of Apollo) written by the Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Wilke.

It describes how the author feels humbled, as he gazes at a headless sculpture of Apollo, worshipped as a god in both Greek and Roman traditions.  

 

Two alternative translations of the poem are available here.

 

Page 209. " verdi l'anime di color cui vinse l'ira "

This can be translated from the Italian as: now see the souls of those who anger has defeated. It's another reference to Dante's, The Divine Comedy. The quote comes from Canto seven of The Inferno.

 

Page 211. " Following up an advertisement in Grocott's Mail "

Grocott's Mail is the oldest surviving independent newspaper in South Africa. First published as a free newspaper by Thomas Henry Grocott, an English immigrant from Liverpool in May 1870, it expanded into a bi-weekly penny publication in 1872.

Grocott's existed all the way through the 20th century in some form and, despite offers from national media houses, has always retained its independent status. Just like the first edition, the paper continues to be published in Grahamstown up to the present day.  

Page 218. " He must have a look again at Victor Hugo, poet of Grandfatherhood. "

 

The French writer, Victor Hugo, is probably most well known for his novel, Les Misérables, covering the turbulent period in France’s history between 1815 and June 1832. Hugo became a committed Republican in his forties and lived in exile from the 1850s, only returning to his home country in 1870 when the Third Republic was declared.

The last book Hugo wrote was a collection of poems called L'Art d'être grand-père (How to be a Grandfather).  The book was inspired by his grandchildren, Georges and Jeanne, who he acted as legal guardian to after the death of both their parents.

Page 218. " A scene ready-made for a Sargent or a Bonnard. "

 

 

 

John Singer Sargent was an American artist,known as the most successful portrait painter of his generation. He studied first in Italy and Germany, then in Paris under the French painter, Carolus-Duran.

 

 

Pierre Bonnard was a French painter, and a member of the avant-garde group of artists, Les Nabis, which advocated the use of symbolism in art.

 

Scène de rue à Paris, Pierre Bonnard, 1905
Creative Commons AttributionScène de rue à Paris, Pierre Bonnard, 1905 - Credit: centralasian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page 218. " at the centre of the picture a young woman, das ewig Weibliche "

Das ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan is a well-known quote from Faust by Johnann Wolfgang von Goethe. A rough translation is: the eternal feminine, draws us upward.

Faust, the central character in a German legend, who famously sold his soul to the devil (in the guise of Mephistopheles) in order to gain complete earthly knowledge, has been depicted in many works of art, literature and music. Goethe's version is split into parts, and while the first part is widely read and taught in schools, the second part is thought to be more difficult to understand, partly due to its extensive use of Greek mythology, including a noteworthy cameo from Helen of Troy. This part of the play is written entirely in verse, divided into five allegorical acts and tells the story of Faust's spiritual journey and (in the Goethe version at least), his ultimate redemption.

The 'das ewig Weibliche' quote is spoken by the chorus, at the very end of Part 2.

 

A clip from the 1926 silent film based on the Faust legend.