Page 302. " pillar of a cloud "
The pillar of cloud
Public DomainThe pillar of cloud

The pillar of cloud was the beacon by which God led the Israelites through the desert in the Old Testament.

After fleeing slavery in Egypt, escaping through the parted Red Sea, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years, waiting for God to bring them to the promised land.  As the distance between Egypt and Palestine is only around 200 miles, one wonders about the route taken by the pillar of cloud.

At night, the pillar of cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.

Page 304. " You are Eve, and I am the old Other One "

Adam and Eve
Public DomainAdam and Eve - Credit: Hieronymus Bosch
Alec is referring to the biblical story of the fall of man, in which Eve was tempted to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

He goes on to quote John Milton's  Paradise Lost, an epic narrative poem of the creation story written in the 17th century. It gives prominence to Lucifer, the brightest of angels, who is reputed to have been cast into hell for his pride; in his new guise as Satan, Lucifer set about plotting the downfall of man.  

Page 311. " there was ghastly satire in the poet's lines "
William Wordsworth
Public DomainWilliam Wordsworth
The poet is William Wordsworth and the lines come from the fifth stanza of his ode 'Intimations of mortality from recollections of early childhood':


Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:  

The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,   

        Hath had elsewhere its setting,  

          And cometh from afar:  

        Not in entire forgetfulness,  

        And not in utter nakedness,  

But trailing clouds of glory do we come   

        From God, who is our home:  

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!  

Shades of the prison-house begin to close  

        Upon the growing Boy,  

But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,   

        He sees it in his joy;  

The Youth, who daily farther from the east  

    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,  

      And by the vision splendid  

      Is on his way attended;   

At length the Man perceives it die away,  

And fade into the light of common day.

Page 317. " Ostium sepulchri antiquae familiae d'Urberville "

A Latin inscription, which means "Here lies the ancient d'Urberville family".

Page 320. " he matched Crivelli's dead 'Christus' "
'Francis of Assisi collects the blood of Christ' by Crivelli
Public Domain'Francis of Assisi collects the blood of Christ' by Crivelli

The Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli was known for his unflinching, often shocking portrayal of religious events. Unlike the more idealised and softer work of some of his contemporaries, Crivelli's art caught the physical horror of suffering and pain that figures such as Christ endured. 

His Dead Christ is displayed in the Vatican Gallery.



Page 321. " a love 'which alters when it alteration' "
Two Lovers (1888)
Public DomainTwo Lovers (1888) - Credit: Vincent van Gogh

A line from Shakespeare's Sonnet 116, which considers the quality of true love.


Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! it is an ever-fixéd mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose Worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle's compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom:

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.


Sonnets are a particularly demanding form of poetry based on rigid rules about the number of syllables and lines they can have, and the rhyme scheme they must follow. Shakespeare created his own variation on the older Petrarchan form, introducing a rhyming couplet at the end of the poem.

Page 324. " a tale told by an idiot "

This phrase comes from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Macbeth, having lied and killed his way to the top, learns that his wife is dead as he is preparing for battle. Faced with the loss of the woman he loves, life loses all meaning for him:



She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.