Page 402. " the sawdusted corner "

Sawdust commonly covered the floors of the cheaper bars and eating places, as it absorbed spills.

Page 405. " the Faust myth is archetypal "
A playbill for a theatrical version of the Faust story
Public DomainA playbill for a theatrical version of the Faust story

In the European folktale, Dr Faust or Faustus sells his soul to a devil for either knowledge beyond the scope of mortal man, or worldly success.  After the time agreed in this bargain has passed, the devil claims his prize and drags Faust down to hell.



Page 407. " so had the Holy Land "

The Holy Land is the region in the eastern Mediterranean encompassing Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Syria and Jordan.  Its holiness derives from it being the location of Jerusalem, a city of great religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Google Map
Page 409. " Matthew Arnold, 'To Marguerite' "

Matthew Arnold (1822-1888) is often numbered among the greatest poets of the Victorian era.  He himself claimed in 1869 that

"My poems represent, on the whole, the main movement of mind of the last quarter of a century"

Critics often agree with Arnold's self-assessment and prize his poetry for its record of the religious and philosophical crises of the self in the Victorian period.

His poem "Dover Beach" plays a central role in Ian McEwan's book Saturday.


Page 411. " Avignon and took them to admire Vézelay "
Interior of Vézelay Abbey
Public DomainInterior of Vézelay Abbey

Avignon is a medieval city in south-eastern France with a rich history involving the Catholic church: it was the seat for several popes and the setting for many church councils. 

Vézelay is an abbey in the Burgundy region of central France with beautiful twelfth-century architecture.

Page 411. " The Canaan they saw "

Canaan is an ancient term for the area of land promised to the Israelites by their God and is used as a metaphor for any kind of promised land.

Page 411. " encouraged by some of the most disgraceful lies "
1848 emigration propaganda
Public Domain"Here and There; or, Emigration: A Remedy", 1848 emigration propaganda
1850 emigration propaganda
Public Domain"At Home; Abroad", 1850 emigration propaganda
Page 412. " some charming Pocahontas "

The story of Pocahontas (1595-1617) was well-known in Britain from the early 17th century.  Pocahontas was a Native American princess who helped settlers in her native land (now part of the US state of Virginia).  She converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca, and eventually married one of the settlers, John Rolfe.

She is said to have saved the life of an English explorer, Captain John Smith, by intervening when her father was about to execute him.

Page 412. " pour la dot comme pour la figure "

"for her dowry as much as her figure"

Page 413. " a city of mellow brick "

An 1860s view of Tremont St, Boston
Public DomainAn 1860s view of Tremont St, Boston
An 1860s view of Park St, Boston
Public DomainAn 1860s view of Park St, Boston

Page 413. " to use the Athenaeum "

The Athenaeum was a celebrated private members library, founded in 1807 and still open today.

Page 413. " the cannon on Bunker Hill "

In 1775 an important battle of the American Revolutionary War took place near Bunker Hill, outside Boston.

Page 413. " An even greater still, whom one might "
Henry James, photographed in 1890
Public DomainHenry James, photographed in 1890

Fowles refers to Henry James (1843-1916), an American by birth who spent the last 40 years of his life living in England, eventually becoming a British subject.  James was one of the pre-eminent novelists of his age, specialising in the exploration of the psychological depths of his characters, extremely long sentences and ornate, extravagant use of language.


Page 414. " Faneuil Hall "

Faneuil Hall was the site of speeches proposing American independence from Great Britain, made by men who later led the American Revolution.

Page 414. " recent devious part in the Civil War "

The American Civil War was waged between 1861 and 1865, and originally sparked by attempts by the southern states of America to leave the union of states.  During the war, Britain remained ostensibly neutral, even as British shipmakers supplied vessels to the southern, Confederate side, and the British government privately considered officially recognising the Confederacy as the legitimate government.  Neither of these actions would have been popular in northern, Yankee areas like Boston.

Page 414. " ribbed about tea-parties "

The Boston Tea Party was a protest against unfair British laws (while America was still a British Colony) during which tea imported from England was thrown into Boston harbour.

Page 414. " the transatlantic emancipation movement "

More information about the British women's suffrage movement can be found here, and its American counterpart here.

Page 415. " the victims of Reconstruction "

Reconstruction is the name given to the period of around 15 years after the American Civil War and the policies of this period that attempted to restore the nation to unity.  These policies were mainly focused on the southern states which had seceded from the rest of the country and were particularly unpopular in this region.

Page 415. " a disastrous president, Andrew Johnson "
President Andrew Johnson
Public DomainPresident Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson (1808-1875) became US President when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. 

While Lincoln's harsh policies towards the South had made him unpopular there but popular in the northern states, Johnson's more lenient approach angered many in the North while still not assuaging residual bitterness in the South.  The opposition to Johnson's policies led to deep division within the government, which limited the amount that was actually achieved for the Reconstruction effort.

Page 415. " a catastrophic one, Ulysses S. Grant "

President Ulysses S. Grant
Public DomainPresident Ulysses S. Grant
Despite notable successes, such as the signing of America's first Civil Rights legislation, Ulysses S. Grant's presidency (1869-1877) was beset by scandal and crises, including a number of corruption scandals and a financial panic, leading to a nation-wide economic depression.

Page 416. " the carpet-baggers' solicitude for Negro emancipation "
A famous 1872 cartoon of a carbet-bagger
Public DomainA famous 1872 cartoon of a carbet-bagger

"Carpetbagger" is a pejorative term which was used by the inhabitants of the southern states to refer to the influx of opportunist businessmen from the northern states after the Civil War.  These men formed alliances with freed slaves but were widely believed to be manipulating these people in order to maximise the profit they could make from the south, in whatever legitimate or unscrupulous way presented itself.


Page 418. " in the Vieux Carré "

1906 postcard showing an alley in the Vieux Carré
Public Domain1906 postcard showing an alley in the Vieux Carré
The Vieux Carré is the oldest quarter of New Orleans, with distinctive French-inspired architecture.



Page 420. " question the Sphinx "

The Sphinx is a creature from Greek and Egyptian mythology, with the body of a lion, the head of a human and sometimes wings. In Greek mythology there is only one sphinx, who had a female head and guarded the entrance to the city of Thebes.  All who wished to enter the city were asked a riddle; if they answered incorrectly or could not answer, she killed them.


Page 422. " the school to which most of them belonged "

The school that Charles considers modern is the Pre-Raphaelite, founded in 1848.  The controversies surrounding the school were initially artistic (a painting of Millais' was called blasphemous), but soon their unconventional personal lives began to cause scandal as well.

Page 422. " the celebrated, the notorious artist "

Proserpine, one of Rossetti's most famous works
Public DomainProserpine, one of Rossetti's most famous works
Fowles refers to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1829-1919), whose reputation combined the scandal attached to the Pre-Raphaelite school's painting and their personal lives with additional notoriety caused by his shockingly sensual poetry.

Page 423. " a face he had once listened to for an hour or more "

Ruskin self-portrait (1861)
Public DomainRuskin self-portrait (1861)
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was an influential cultural critic and commentator, whose lectures on art and architecture were immensely popular and influential.  He was an early and loyal patron and defender of Pre-Raphaelite art.

Page 423. " the full uniform of the New Woman "

The New Woman was a new ideal of femininity that emerged in the latter half of the 19th century.  The New Woman was independent and independent-minded, would often pursue a profession (and more professions were open to her than her predecessors) and not hold a successful marriage as her sole ambition.  She was more likely to engage in activites still frowned upon as unladylike, such as smoking or riding a bicycle.

Page 423. " all formal contemporary notions of female fashion "
Example of artistic dress in 'The Blue Silk Dress' by Rossetti
Public DomainExample of artistic dress in 'The Blue Silk Dress' by Rossetti

The clothes Fowles describe almost but not quite fit into the genre of Artistic Dress, the name coined by the Pre-Raphaelite school for the styles worn by their female associates, which were heavily influenced by the clothing depicted in Pre-Raphaelite art.  The rejection of all fashionable conventions is deliberate: these conventions were regarded by this group as either ugly, impractical, uncomfortable or unhealthy.


Page 425. " A bas relief "

Example of the bas relief technique
Public DomainExample of the bas relief technique
A bas relief is a kind of sculpture in which the subject stands out only very slightly from the flat background.