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Delahunty - The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (2001).pdf
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an American-born British murderer. Crippen poisoned his wife, burying her remains in the cellar of their London home, for which crime he was later hanged. He nearly escaped, boarding an Atlantic liner with his secretary, but the suspicious captain of the ship contacted the police by radiotelegraphy, the first use of this medium in a criminal investigation, and he was apprehended.

Gary's client, the Dr Crippen of fund management, was delirious with joy.

REBECCA TINSLEY Settlement Day, 1994

Jack the Ripper Jack the Ripper is the name given to an unidentified English 19th-century murderer. From August to November 1888 at least six prostitutes were found brutally murdered, their bodies mutilated. The crimes were never solved, but the authorities received taunting notes from a person calling himself Jack the Ripper, who claimed to be the murderer.


As can be seen below, there are a variety of classical and biblical figures

who typify the sound of beautiful music-making. The idea of music so

sweet that it can relieve a melancholic mood or charm wild animals seems

to be a universal one.

Aeolian According to Greek mythology, Aeolus was a mortal who lived on the floating island of Aeolia. He was a friend of the gods, and Zeus gave him control of the winds. Aeolus was later regarded as the god of the winds. He has given his name to the Aeolian harp, a musical instrument that produces sounds when the wind passes through it. Aeolian music is thus music produced by the effect of the wind.

Time to drink in life's sunshine—time to listen to the Aeolian music that the wind of Cod draws from the human heart-strings around us.

JEROME K. JEROME Three Men in a Boat, 1889

Apollo In Greek mythology, Apollo, the son of Zeus and Leto, was the god of music and poetic inspiration. Although references are sometimes to the lute of Apollo, his instrument was in fact a seven-stringed lyre. • See special entry

n APOLLO on p. 15.

For valour, is not love a Hercules,

Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?

Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical

As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE Love's Labour's Lost, 1595

I do not admire the tones of the concertina, as a rule; but oh! how beautiful the music seemed to us both then—far, far more beautiful than the voice of Orpheus or the lute of Apollo.

JEROME K. JEROME Three Men in a Boat, 1889


Arcadia A mountainous district in the Péloponnèse of southern Greece, Arcadia (or Arcady) in poetic fantasy represents an idealized region of rural contentment. It is the setting of Philip Sidney's prose romance Arcadia, published posthumously in 1590. The association of Arcadia with beautiful music may derive from the fact that Arcadia was the home of Pan, the god who frequented mountains, caves, and lonely places, and invented the Pan pipes.

Oak would pipe with Arcadian sweetness.

THOMAS HARDY Far From the Madding Crowd, 1874

It was as though the wood and the strings of the orchestra played Arcadian melodies and in the bass the drums, softly but with forboding, beat a grim tattoo,

w. SOMERSET MAUCHAM The Painted Veil, 1925

I was wondering half-idly if there was a goat-herd with them, and if, perhaps, they had strayed from the troop, when I thought I heard, far away over the cliff-top, the sound of a pipe. Even as I heard it and strained my ears to catch the notes, it faded, and I dismissed it as fancy. The thin, broken stave had been purely pastoral, something from a myth of Arcady, nymphs and shepherds and Pan-pipes and green valleys.

MARY STEWART My Brother Michael, 1960

Beethoven Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer, born in Bonn. His music is often said to have bridged the classical and romantic traditions. Although he began to be afflicted with deafness in 1802, an affliction which became total by 1817, his musical output was prodigious.

I soon found out why Old Chong had retired from teaching piano. He was deaf. 'Like Beethoven!' he shouted to me. 'We're both listening only in our head!'

AMY TAN TWO Kinds, 1989

Blondel According to tradition, Blondel de Nesle, a French poet, was the friend of Richard I of England, known as Richard Coeur de Lion. Blondel set out to find the king after Richard, returning from the Holy Land in 1192, was imprisoned by the duke of Austria. Sitting under the castle window, Blondel sang a song in French that he and the king had composed together. Half-way through, Richard took the song up himself to reveal his whereabouts.

Two ground-floor windows, three upstairs, all shuttered. . . . I felt like Blondel beneath Richard Coeur-de-Lion's window; but not even able to pass messages by song.

JOHN FOWLES The Magus, 1977

St Cecilia St Cecilia (2nd or 3rd century) was a Roman martyr. According to legend, she took a vow of celibacy but was forced to marry a Roman. She converted her husband to Christianity, and both were martyred. She is frequently pictured playing the organ and is the patron saint of church music.

They have combined their voices, such as they are, even if they could be supposed to be 'parlor voices', 'thin voices', 'poor voices' or any other kind of voice than St. Cecilia's own.

Harper's Monthly, 1880

David David (d. c.962 BC) was king of Judah and Israel c.iooo-c.962 BC. He was noted as a musician and is traditionally regarded as the author of the psalms. According to the Old Testament, the young David relieved King Saul's melancholy by playing the lyre: 'And whenever the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand; so Saul was



refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him' (i Sam. 16: 23). • See special entry n DAVID on p. 90.

That night when Beth played to Mr. Laurence in the twilight, Laurie, standing in the shadow of the curtain, listened to the little David, whose simple music always quieted his moody spirit.

LOUISA M. ALCOTT Little Women, 1868

Euterpe Euterpe was one of the nine Muses in Greek mythology, associated especially with lyric poetry and flute playing.

He offended her by refusing to go into a dance-hall on the grounds that the music was so bad that it was a sacrilege against St Cecilia and Euterpe and Terpsichore, when she just wanted to go in and lose her unhappiness in dancing.

LOUIS DE BERNIÈRES Sehor Vivo and the Coca Lord, 1991

Gabriel According to the Bible, Gabriel was the archangel who acted as God's messenger and foretold the birth of Jesus to Mary. In Christian tradition, he is thought to be the archangel who will blow the trumpet to announce the general resurrection: 'For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first' (1 Thess. 4: 16).

Blowing harder than Gabriel's trumpet, it is, and enough snow already down to bury a whale.

JOAN AIKEN The Whispering Mountain, 1968

Minerva Minerva, the Roman goddess of handicrafts and wisdom, was also believed to have invented the flute. While she was playing the flute before Juno and Venus, the goddesses laughed at the distorted face she made while blowing the instrument, which caused Minerva to throw it indignantly away.

'Thank you very much,' Said Oak, in the modest tone good manners demanded, thinking, however, that he would never let Bathsheba see him playing the flute; in this resolve showing a discretion equal to that related of its sagacious inventress, the divine Minerva herself.

THOMAS HARDY Far from the Madding Crowd, 1874

Miriam In the Bible, Miriam was the sister of Aaron, who went with Moses when he led his people across the Red Sea and out of Egypt. When they had crossed the Red Sea safely, Miriam 'took up a timbrel in her hand' and said 'Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously' (Exod. 15: 20-1). This is sometimes referred to as the 'Song of Miriam'. Miriam can therefore be alluded to as someone who sings, especially for joy. (The reference to hiding her little brother in the Forster quotation depends upon the assumption that it was Miriam who was the sister who watched the infant Moses in his basket in the bulrushes in Exod. 2. 4.) • See special entry

p. 264.

A new little brother is a valuable sentimental asset to a schoolgirl, and her school


then passing through an acute phase of baby-worship. Happy the girl who had


quiver full of them, who kissed them when she left home in the morning, who


the right to extricate them from mail-carts in the interval, who dangled them at


ere they retired to rest! That one might sing the unwritten song of Miriam,

blessed above all schoolgirls, who was allowed to hide her baby brother in a squashy place, where none but herself could find him!

E. M. FORSTER Where Angels Fear to Tread, 1905


Orpheus According to Greek mythology, Orpheus was a poet who sang and played with his lyre so beautifully that he could charm wild beasts. He married Eurydice, a dryad, and when she died from a snake bite Orpheus went down to the Underworld to try to recover her. He used his music to persuade the goddess Persephone to let Eurydice return with him, to which Persephone agreed on condition that Orpheus should not look back as he left the Underworld. Violating this condition to assure himself that Eurydice was still following him, Orpheus did look back, whereupon she vanished forever.

Orpheus with his lute made trees,

And the mountain-tops that freeze,

Bow themselves when he did sing.


'What do you think of our modern Orpheus?' 'If you're referring to Tolley, I don't think he can conduct Beethoven!

ALDOUS HUXLEY Point Counter Point, 1928

Pan Pan was the Greek god of shepherds and flocks, a native of rural Arcadia. Usually represented as having a human torso and arms but the legs, ears, and horns of a goat, Pan frequented mountains, caves, and lonely places. On one occasion he pursued the nymph Syrinx, who escaped him by turning into a reed. As he could not distinguish her from among all the other reeds, he cut several and made them into the Pan pipes which still bear his name. Pan can be alluded to as a player of sweet music.

He could cut cunning little baskets out of cherry-stones, could make grotesque faces on hickory nuts, or odd-jumping figures out of elder-pith, and he was a very Pan in the manufacture of whistles of all sizes and sorts.

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852

Quasimodo Quasimodo is the ugly, deaf, hunchbacked bell-ringer of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Victor Hugo's novel Notre-Dame de Paris, usually translated as The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831). The popular image of the character has been largely formed by Charles Laughton's 1939 film portrayal in which a hauntingly pitiful Quasimodo finds comfort and solace in the bell tower of the cathedral with his beloved bells.

Birchfield Place had relied, like most stately homes, on a state-of-the-art mix of hardwired detectors on doors and windows, passive infrared detectors at all key points and pressure-activated alert pads in front of any items of significance. Given the failsafes I'd put in place, I couldn't for the life of me see how anyone could have got through my system undetected without setting off enough bells to drive Quasimodo completely round the bend.

VAL MCDERMID Clean Break, 1995

Terpsichore Terpsichore was one of the nine Muses in Greek mythology, associated especially with dancing and the singing that accompanies it.

Tin-Pan Alley Tin-Pan Alley is the name given to a district in New York (28th Street, between 5th Avenue and Broadway) where many songwriters, arrangers, and publishers of popular music were based. The district gave its name to the American popular music industry between the late 1880s and the mid-20th century.

All this litter lies amid the desert's natural untidiness, the endless scatter of bony apparently lifeless scrub that speckles it from horizon to horizon. The only clear

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