A Blue Blazer is a simple whisky punch made with whisky or brandy, boiling water, lemon peel and powdered sugar. However, it is mixed by setting the alcohol alight and then pouring it between two mugs, as Richard describes. The cocktail was invented by the famous nineteenth century bartender and author Jerry Thomas; the U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant is said to have been particularly impressed with it.
This comes from an ancient Roman superstition. In Virgil's Aeneid, Palinurus, the helmsman of a ship of the Trojan hero Aeneas, is murdered to ensure the ship's safe passage on their way back from the Trojan wars. When he is left unburied his spirit haunts the ship until he is given a proper burial.
Kassandra (or Cassandra) was the daughter of King Priam of Troy, who was given the gift of prophecy by Apollo. However when she did not return Apollo's love for her he cursed her so that no one would believe her prophecies.
Cassandra appears in many Greek sources, including Homer's Iliad, Aeschylus' Agamemnon and Euripedes' Trojan Women and Electra.
Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) was a French Romantic writer. During his prolific writing career he wrote a number of plays, poems, novels, short stories, various works of art and literary criticism and other articles. He was known as a champion of Romanticism in art and literature.
In 1835 Gautier's friend and fellow writer Alfred de Vigny produced a play, Chatterton, based on the life of the English Romantic poet Thomas Chatterton, who poisoned himself with arsenic, aged seventeen. Chatterton wrote a number of false 'Medieval' poems in Chaucerian English, which were published as genuine discoveries. He was an extremely gifted mimic of other people's styles of writing. After his death, however, suspicions arose as to the true origins of the works he claimed to have 'transcribed'. He came to be seen as an archetypal Romantic poet, a poverty-stricken genius unappreciated during his lifetime whose life was cut terribly short. Vigny's play about him is considered a masterpiece, and is still regularly performed today.
Schliemann was an important influence on a young Donna Tartt, who decided to become an archaelogist after her grandmother gave her a book about him.