Page 76. " The Mystery of Edwin Drood: not what he would have expected. "

 

Cover art from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens,1870
Public DomainCover art from The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Charles Dickens,1870 - Credit: Chapman & Hall

 

 

 

The novel Lucy reads, The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Charles Dickens' final novel and was left uncompleted at the time of his untimely death on 8 June, 1870. Essentially a crime mystery, the book centres around the disappearance and apparent murder of Edwin Drood.    

 

Page 77. " He got a Land Affairs grant earlier this year, enough to buy a hectare and a bit from me. "

Poster calling for the return of District 6 to land claimants in Cape Town
Public DomainPoster calling for the return of District 6 to land claimants in Cape Town - Credit: Henry M. Trotter
In apartheid South Africa, there was no more contentious issue than that of land, and specifically who had the right of ownership. Even before the National Party came to power in 1948, restrictions had been placed by the introduction of The Natives Land Act 1n 1913, and this process of disenfranchisment continued under apartheid.

When the post-apartheid government came into power, and a new constitution came into play, all citizens of the country were given certain rights, including the right to own land. These reforms clearly benefited ambitious blacks such as Petrus, who were no longer forced to eek out a living working for someone else, but could own and farm their own property.

However, the issue of the continued white ownership of land became something of a flashpoint, particularly in rural areas. While any racial group had been given the right to own land, they couldn't simply sweep in and seize the land, even if it was seized from them in the first place, as the formal procedure had to be followed. This procedure has contributed to an atmosphere of impatience; an impatience, which when combined with a desire for retribution, has led to high rates of violence being reported with white farmers as the target. This violence has led to concerns that South Africa would become the new Zimbabwe

Page 77. " So you are determined to go on being bad. Mad, bad, and dangerous to know. "

 

 

This is another reference to Byron. 'Mad, bad and dangerous to know' were the words Lady Caroline Lamb used to describe him after their first meeting in 1812. This assessment did not stop her embarking on a tempestuous affair with the poet, and even after Byron ended their relationship she continued to pursue him. If we think of Byron as Britain's first A - list celebrity then Lady Caroline can surely be called the first celebrity stalker.

A writer and poet herself, Lady Caroline's most notable work is Glenarvon, which is generally regarded as a thinly disguised portrayal of her relationship with Byron.

The words 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' have come to be associated, not only with Byron himself, but with the idea of a Byronic hero. Typically an outsider, the Byronic figure is often betrayed as a brooding presence, often prone to passionate, self-destructive behaviour. A classic example would be Heathcliff, the compelling lead character in Wuthering Heights

 

Television trailer - Wuthering Heights.

Page 78. " The Church Fathers had a long debate about them, and decided they don't have proper souls "

 

The Church Fathers is the collective name given to the theologians, scholars and bishops who shaped the ideas and beliefs that Christianity is based on. As a group, they are largely responsible for the way in which the bible and its teachings are interpreted.  

 

The question about whether animals have souls is one that's been debated long and hard by Christians, with the overriding view amongst theologians tending to veer towards the negative. For an article looking at the Christain response to the question, click here.

Page 83. " Sudden darkness, from the waters of Lethe. "

 

 

 

 

In greek Mythology, The Lethe is one of the five rivers in Hades (the underworld). According to legend, all those who drank from its waters would forget their past life completely.

In the painting on the right, the ferryman, Charon, is shown transporting passengers from earth into the underworld. While, in modern days, this it is thought of as the River Styx, the original Greek refers to Charon and the River Acheron.

 

Page 87. " the men play dreary Faro. "

A French card game, invented in the 17th century.

Page 90. " with Pavlovian regularity the owners would beat it "

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist, most well known for his ground breaking study on conditioned reflexes. In this study, Pavlov carried out a series of experiments using dogs to examine how the brain can develop a conditioned response to a specific sensory stimulation and, in turn, associate it with something else. For example, as part of the experiment, Pavlov chimed a bell at or around feeding times, until eventually the dog began to salivate at the sound of the bell, whether food was there or not. This proved the brain had developed a conditioned reflex to the specific stimulus of the bell.

A game illustrating how Pavlov's theory works can be played online by clicking here.

One of Pavlov's Dogs
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOne of Pavlov's Dogs - Credit: Robert K Lawton

 

 

This photograph of one of the dogs Pavlov used in his experiments was taken at the Pavlov Museum in Ryazan, Russia. A feeding tube has been inserted into the dog's muzzle to catch saliva. 

 

Unsurprisingly, Pavlov's dogs have been the cause of much debate over the years, and the experiments have been linked to discussions around brainwashing and human conditioning. The issue of the animals' mistreatment has also been raised, with suggestions dogs were beaten and given electric shocks to test their responses. It has also been claimed, notably in the BBC programme, The Brain: A Secret History, that similar experiments were undertaken on children. 

 

Page 91. " Does she believe he is just a scapegoat? "

In a modern sense, the word scapegoat is used to refer to anyone who is singled out to take the blame for others. 

 

 

 

The idea of a scapegoat or scapegoating has its origins in biblical times when a goat was sent off into the wilderness. The goat carried the sins of the congregation with him and wore a red cloth on its head. If the cloth turned white it meant these sins had been forgiven.

With reference to the New Testament, the idea is seen as representaive of Christ suffering to save mankind.

The painting on the left illustrates this practice. Click here to listen to an analysis of the painting.

 

Page 95. " He is helpless, an Aunt Sally "

The term Aunt Sally can be used to describe someone who is set up to be the target of criticism. The name derives from an old British pub game in which competitors take it in turns to throw balls at a figure, usually fashioned in the image of a woman, in an attempt to knock her down.

A derivative of the game is still played in pubs in Oxforshire and the Cotswolds today, where competitors have to topple a dolly off a spike by throwing batons at it. The video below, shows the game being played in a competition.

 

Page 98. " they went off in the Port Elizabeth direction. "

Port Elizabeth is situated on the coast of the Eastern Cape  Province. It lies around 130 kilometres south west of Grahamstown.

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