Page 476. " I would have suggested something from the Phaedo "


One of Plato's dialogues, the Phaedo describes the death of Socrates. As such it discusses many ideas to do with death, such as the immortality of the soul and the nature of the afterlife.

Page 476. " David Bowie. 'This is Ground Control to Major Tom' "

This is the opening line, and refrain, of Bowie's song 'Space Oddity' from his 1969 album of the same name. The song was released as a single to coincide with the Apollo 11 moon landing on 11th July 1969.

Listen to Space Oddity on Spotify

Page 478. " I was looking for the tomb of a famous writer - Marcel Proust, I think, or maybe George Sand. "
Proust by Blanche
Public DomainProust by Blanche
George Sand by Nadar
Public DomainGeorge Sand by Nadar

 Richard mentions two famous French writers. Marcel Proust (1871-1922), was the author of In Search of Lost Time (À la recherche du temps perdu), the famous six-volume, 3,700-page novel about jealous love and memory. George Sand (real name Amantine Dupin, 1804-1876) was an influence on Proust, and a friend of Gustave Flaubert. She was a prolific writer, the first French woman considered to be a literary great. Her novels include François le Champi, La Petite Fadette, and Indiana. 


In Search of Lost Time on Book Drum

Page 485. " some Horatian-sounding tag about meat being good for sorrow "

Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Known as Horace, 65 B.C.-8 B.C.) was a Roman lyric poet. He lived during the time of Augustus, the first Emperor of Rome. The son of a freed slave, Horace studied Greek and philosophy in Athens before serving in the Roman army under Brutus. He was a friend of Virgil and Maecenas, who bought him a country estate in the Sabine Hills, where he composed poetry extolling the benefits of the simple life.

Page 492. " There were classes in dervish dancing and the Kabbalah. "

Sufi dancer
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumSufi dancer - Credit: Johanna Trew
 Dervish dancing is a form of Sufi meditation consisting of a whirling dance used to reach spiritual ecstasy. The dance is performed in the Sema, the ceremony of worship. Sufism is a mystical branch of Islam which emphasises drawing closer to God within this life, without having to wait until death.

The Kabbalah is a mystical form of Judaism that seeks to explain the fundamental relationship between God, who is eternal, and the mortal universe. The Kabbalah interprets knowledge, starting with overt meaning and ending with the esoteric, hidden, inner meaning. Although Jewish mysticism is as old as the religion itself, Kabbalah recently suffered a surge of popular interest when prominent celebrities such as Madonna adopted it.

Page 492. " four hours of Reichian analysis "

Reichian analysis follows the theories of Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), one of the most influential figures in the field of psychiatry and psychotherapy. Born into a Jewish family in Austria, he fled Nazi Germany in 1933, eventually settling in the United States. As well as influencing psychoanalysis, he also had an impact on a range of writers including William S. Burroughs, Saul Bellow and Normal Mailer.

Page 493. " I said Davy Balfour from Kidnapped "

 Kidnapped is an 1886 novel by the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson.

Davy Balfour is the central character and narrator of the adventure, which was based around historical events in eighteenth-century Scotland. It tells the story of Balfour's kidnapping, his shipwreck on a desert island and subsequent adventures with Highland Jacobites.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was one of Donna Tartt's favourite writers when she was a child. His work, which also includes Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, has been widely admired by other writers including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, and Vladimir Nabokov.