Page 54. " he resembled a more attenuated and frenetic John Garfield "
John Garfield (1913-1952) was an American actor known for playing rebellious working-class characters, a forerunner of James Dean and Marlon Brando.


Page 61. " Later she played over and over on the phonograph the final movement of the First Symphony of Brahms which he had so big-heartedly allowed her to keep. "

Brahms' symphony in C minor was written over many years, beginning in 1855 with 'sketches'.  It was finally performed in 1876, 21 years later.


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Brahm's First Symphony: First Movement on Spotify

Brahm's First Symphony: Second Movement on Spotify

Brahm's First Symphony: Third Movement on Spotify

Brahm's First Symphony: Fourth Movement on Spotify

Page 65. " I'm a Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University "

The Phi Beta Kappa fraternity was an honor society, promoting the advancement of the liberal arts. First established at the College of William & Mary in 1776, the Phi Beta Kappas were also the first Greek-letter fraternities, as well as one of the oldest undergraduate fraternities in the United States. 

Duke University was established in 1837, as a private school. It is located in Durham, North Carolina. With a  Methodist and Quaker background, it is founded on private research, as well as extensive academic and athletic programs. Styron went to Duke University in 1943. After service in the war, he returned to Duke, completing his schooling in 1947.

Page 68. " The regal, celebrant strains of Handle's Water Music shimmered down the stairs from Sophie's room. "

Handel's Water Music is a collection of pieces written for a concert on the River Thames in London in 1717, requested by King George I.


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Handel's Water Music on Spotify

Page 68. " they both simply might be crazy or outcast like Paolo and Francesca, caught up in some weird, shared perdition. "

Paolo and Francesca are historical figures who appear as characters in the fifth canto of Dante's epic poem, The Divine Comedy.

Francesca da Rimini was a contemporary of Dante AlighieriBorn the daughter of a Lord of Ravenna, she became the wife of Giovanni Malatesta. This was a marriage of convenience, negotiated as a means of strengthening a newly established peace between Francesca's father's kingdom and that of her husband to be.

Giovanni, though brave, suffered from a deformity that everyone feared would cause Francesca to refuse the match. So the marriage was negotiated and completed in private with Giovanni's brother, Paolo, as an intermediary. During this charade Francesca and Paolo fell in love. Their subsequent adultery earned them a place in Dante's Inferno.

Page 75. " Like Gulliver among the Houyhnhnms, I had rather thought myself a unique figure in this huge Semitic arrondissement "

 The Houyhnhnms are a race of horses in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels that have created a stable society of rationality and calm.