Don Juan is a notorious fictional womanizer and libertine who appears in folk tales, plays, poems, songs and novels. Among those who have used the character are Molière, Pushkin, Alexandre Dumas, George Bernard Shaw, Buddy Holly, Ingmar Bergman, Mozart and Byron.
Barley water is a soft drink made by boiling pearl barley in water, discarding the barley then adding fruit juice and sugar to the water. It is a traditional nursery drink, and was believed to have soothing properties.
The Early Cretaceous period followed the Jurassic Period between 146 million and 100 million years ago. During this period many new species of dinosaur emerged, as well as the first flowering plants.
Jeremiah was a Christian and Jewish prophet, who features in the Bible's Old Testament and the Torah. In these books, God regularly calls on Jeremiah to convey warnings to sinful people that God will destroy them if they do not mend their ways. This kind of news meets with predictable responses: he is castigated and beaten. He is most commonly illustrated in sorrow and has become a common artistic subject for lamentation.
Methodism is a sect of the Anglican faith, started by John Wesley's reforming movement. It is somewhat austere and takes a strong position on social issues: in the 19th century Methodist churches were at the forefront of campaigns against alcohol and gambling.
This phrase, meaning "don't touch me", was supposedly spoken by Jesus to his follower Mary Magdalen, when she encountered him just after his resurrection from the dead.
It also appears in a sonnet by Sir Thomas Wyatt, commonly thought to be about Anne Boleyn, the second queen of King Henry VIII. This poem represents Anne as a deer fleeing a hunter who cannot help but chase, although he wishes he could stop. Around her neck, the deer wears a collar on which is spelled out
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.
Hercules was the illegitimate son of Jupiter, king of the Roman Gods, and a mortal. Juno, wife of Jupiter, hated Hercules and sent him mad. During his madness, he slew his children. As a penance, Hercules performed twelve seemingly-impossible labours, testing his strength, bravery, endurance, skill and cunning.
The first row of images show the area outside Viano do Castelo in north-western Portugal; the second row were taken in the Undercliff at Lyme.
Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities whose destruction is mentioned in the Bible, as well as the Koran and the Torah. According to the Biblical account, the inhabitants' sexual immorality angered God and so he destroyed both cities. Sodom has been taken as a byword for sexual perversity, and is the origin of the term "sodomy".
Anschluss is German for "link-up" although it most commonly appears in English as a reference to the illegal annexation of Austria into Germany by the Nazis.
"Lover's Lane" is a generic term for any secluded location used by couples for kissing and other sexual activity. Its first recorded use in English is from 1853.
Midsummer's Eve has been celebrated in Britain since the 13th century in much the same way as described here: fire, drinking, dancing and sex. Although it coincides with the Christian celebration of St John the Baptist, the sacred aspect of the festivities frequently lost out to the profane. A monk in the 15th century records that
"At first, men and women came to church with candles and other lights and prayed all night long. In the process of time, however, men left such devotion and used songs and dances and fell into lechery and gluttony turning the good, holy devotion into sin."
Myxomatosis is a fatal disease suffered by rabbits. In 1953 the disease first became prevelant in Britain, where it was welcomed and deliberately spread by some people. By 1955 it was estimated that only 5% of the rabbit population remained.
The Song of Solomon is another name for the book called Song of Songs in the Bible (and the Torah). Ostensibly a love song by a man and a woman, following the process of a courtship, it is widely interpreted to be an allegorical celebration of the love between God and the Church (or the human soul). Some parts of the poem would have been considered shockingly explicit by a Victorian audience:
Your two breasts are like two fawns
that are twins of a roe,
which feed among the lilies.
The Valley of the Dolls is a 1966 bestselling novel by Jacqueline Susann. It follows the lives of three women in the world of film, theatre and modelling with particular focus on their use of non-prescribed barbiturates - the "dolls" of the book's title.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), the Romantic poet, was a heavy user of opium throughout almost all his life. In his own account of the origin of his famous poem Kubla Khan, he implies the inspiration for the work came from a particularly vivid opium dream:
The author continued for about 3 hours in a profound sleep, at least of the external senses, during which time he has the most vivid confidence, that he could not have composed less than from two or three hundred lines.
A recording of a reading of Kubla Khan can be found here.
Hieronymus Bosch (1450-1516) was a Dutch artist best known for his teeming multi-panel depictions of biblical and apocalyptic scenes. The piece that would have most relevance in this case is probably the Garden of Earthly Delights which, while quite coy in its depiction of sexual activity, is full of naked people of both genders enjoying sensual pleasures. Details from the picture are shown below; click here for a large image of the whole scene.
The objective correlative is a concept in English literature invented by T S Eliot. It refers to something in the external world that acts as an equivalent for things in the mental world. So, for instance, any events or objects that serve to symbolise or evoke an emotional response which is not directly expressed.
In this case, the (imaginary) debauched and depraved activities happening in Ware Common are the external manifestation of all the debauched and depraved thoughts in Mrs Poulteney's subconscious.
Isis was the Ancient Egyptian Goddess of motherhood, magic and fertility, patron of women, sinners and the down-trodden. According to the account of the Greek historian Plutarch, when Isis died a statue was placed over her grave, and a dark veil draped over that statue. An inscription below the statue read
I am all that has been, that is, that shall be, and none among mortals has yet dared to raise my veil. (source)
Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008) was a French novelist and a leading figure in the experimental "nouveau roman" movement. His work is best known for plots or characters which remain unclear or unrevealed: for example, his prize-winning novel The Voyeur (1955) revolves around an apparent murder that is never described or explicitly referred to.
Roland Barthes (1915-1980) was an influential French literary theorist. His best-known work is The Death of the Author in which he challenges the value of literary critics trying to work out what the author of a book or poem had intended, in order to determine its real meaning. He points out that it is impossible to know what (often long-dead) authors intended, and instead suggests that books and poems are recreated every time they are read, because their meaning is determined by an individual reader with a different set of opinions, contexts and influences.
Aleatory art is art created by the use of randomness or chance. Methods include automatic writing and rolling dice to make decisions.
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was a Greek philosopher who wrote one of the first treatises of literary theory, the Poetics. This book, only half of which has survived, covers the consituent elements, aims and style of poetry and an in-depth analysis of tragedy. It has been an important resource for literary theory, although Aristotle's theories are still disputed.
The foreword to Les Fleurs du Mal, a book of poetry by the French writer Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), includes the line
—Hypocrite lecteur,—mon semblable,—mon frère!
(Hypocritical reader - my likeness - my brother)
The line is re-used by T S Eliot (1888-1965) in his poem The Waste Land.