Page 229. " obscene and absurd ultimate truth "

Angry at being turned out of the Baron's house because of letters he did not write, de la Roncière made a bet with his friend that he could make Marie his mistress.  Eventually, he persuaded Marie to allow him into her bedroom.  On the night of the alleged assault, de la Roncière was let into the house and into Marie's bedroom by Miss Allen, who was his lover.

Page 230. " Sir Galahad shown Guinevere to be a whore "

Sir Galahad is a knight of the Round Table in Arthurian legend.  He is renowned for his virtue and particularly his chastity, which gained him the name Sir Galahad the Pure.  Guinevere, by contrast, is a character notorious for her unchastity: married to King Arthur, she was the lover of Lancelot.  In some versions of the Arthurian stories, Galahad and Guinevere have a particularly close and warm relationship before her adultery is exposed.

Page 230. " he was a Pontius Pilate "

Christ before Pilate by Munkacsy (1881)
Public DomainChrist before Pilate by Munkacsy (1881)
Pontius Pilate was the ruler of the province in which Jesus lived.  He condemned Jesus to crucifixion at the urging of his enemies but refused to accept responsibility for the action, symbolically washing his hands.

Page 233. " a painting by Pisanello "

Fowles refers to the painting called The Vision of St Eustace. The story of St Eustace is often attributed to St Hubert. The story of the moment depicted can be found here.

The Vision of St Eustace
Public DomainThe Vision of St Eustace

Page 237. " with this Parthian shaft "

Parthian shot, from a carved plate in the British Museum
Creative Commons AttributionParthian shot, from a carved plate in the British Museum - Credit: J. Lendering / M. Prins
The Parthian shaft was a cavalry manoeuvre used by the Parthians, who lived in what is now Iran.  Riders armed with bows would pretend to retreat, then turn in their saddles and shoot over their shoulders at their pursuers.

Page 238. " You wicked Jezebel "

Jezebel is a Biblical figure whose name has become a general term for evil women.  The original Jezebel was a queen of Israel who converted the king her husband from the worship of the Christian God to the worship of Baal. According to the Bible, she encouraged sexual immorality and persecuted Christian prophets.

Page 238. " sal volatile "

Also known as "smelling salts", sal volatile is ammonium carbonate, a chemical compound commonly used to rouse the semi-conscious or unconcious.

Page 240. " In spite of Hegel "

Georg Hegel, engraving aftre Sebbers
Public DomainGeorg Hegel, engraving aftre Sebbers
Georg Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher.  The concept of spirit that he invented was one that united opposites in itself without resolving the opposites or negating either.

Page 241. " for existentialist moments "

The existentialists were a group of philosophers whose thought focused on the individual, their inner life and actions, and considerations of how an individual can bring meaning to their own life.

Page 242. " fleeting memory of Catullus "

The poetry of the ancient Roman poet Catullus (84-54 BCE) veers between passionate, agonised love poetry and scurrilous, obscene attacks on enemies and rivals.  A translation of the poem from which Fowles quotes can be found here.

Page 242. " Catullus was translating Sappho "

Sappho is the most famous female poet of the Classical age and the only ancient Greek female poet whose work has survived to this day.  She is best known for her passionate love poetry addressed to men and women. 

Catullus' respect for Sappho can be seen not only in his quotation of her work, but also in the pseudonym he gives the addressee of his most heartfelt love poetry: Lesbia, named for Lesbos, Sappho's birthplace.

A translation of Sappho's original poem can be found here.

Page 245. " this Janus-like quality "
Bust of Janus
Public DomainBust of Janus

Janus was the Roman God of gates, doorways, beginnings and endings.  His name survives in the name of the month January.  He is commonly shown with two faces or two heads, representing his ability to see into both the past and future.


Page 250. " I think you should go to Exeter "

Exeter is a city in Devon (near Dorset) and was at the period of the novel one of the central transport hubs of the region, due to its railway links to London.

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