References to the American poet Hart Crane (1899-1932) persist throughout Sophie's Choice. As well as Leslie, the double agent Irena killed by Jozef has 'this expertise in a poet named Hart Crane' (p. 435).
Crane's Modernist poetry is highly stylised and very demanding. It has been compared to the writing of T.S. Eliot, who was a profound influence. Crane suffered from depression, and committed suicide by jumping from a steamship in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Marriage of Figaro is a comic opera by Mozart, first performed in Vienna in 1786.
Auschwitz is commonly associated with the worst horrors of the Holocaust. Situated in Poland, it was the largest and most infamous concentration camp created by the Nazi regime. The complex known as Auschwitz-Birkenau was made up of several smaller camps, and housed a range of political prisoners, gypsies, homosexuals and Jews.
Auschwitz II - Birkenau was an extermination camp, specifically set up for the obliteration of the Jewish race. It was equipped with gas chambers capable of killing thousands of people at a time, and furnaces where many of the bodies were incinerated.
Pawiak Prison in Warsaw was built in the 1800s, and became Poland's main male prison once the nation achieved independence. In 1939 the prison became the headquarters of the Gestapo, and the prison was much feared throughout the war years. An estimated 37,000 people were executed, and at least 60,000 people were deported to concentration camps from here during the "cleansing" of Poland.