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Delahunty - The Oxford Dictionary of Allusions (2001).pdf
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Small Size

All the allusions below can be used to describe a diminutive person. LILLIPUTIAN can also be used to signify something that is tiny in scale. • See also

Large Size.

Alice At the beginning of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Alice drinks from a little bottle labelled 'Drink me' and immediately starts to shrink: '"What a curious feeling!" said Alice, "I must be shutting up like a telescope." And so it was indeed: she was now only ten inches high'.

See special entry n ALICE IN WONDERLAND on p. 10.

Borrowers The Borrowers (1952) by Mary Norton is the story of Pod, Homily, and Arrietty, a family of tiny people living beneath the floors of an old country mansion. They 'borrow' everything they need from the household of the 'human beans' above them.

Lilliputian In Book I of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), Gulliver finds himself shipwrecked on the island of Lilliput. The tiny Lilliputians are only six inches tall and, as Gulliver discovers, are as small-minded as they are small-bodied, being petty, pretentious, and factious. • See special entry


The children fill the house with the Lilliputian din of drums, trumpets, and pennywhistles.

WASHINGTON iRviNc The Sketch-Book, 1 8 1 9 - 2 0

A Lilliputian chest-of-drawers no doubt containing sea-shells and locks of children's hair.

KINGSLEY AMIS Lucky Jim, 1953

The engines were laid out sort of like a giant car engine, with every piece exposed so it could be cared for quickly. If you were a Lilliputian you would climb up and down a car engine just this way.

SARA PARETSKY Deadlock, 1984

Munchkin In L. Frank Baum's children's story The Wizard of Oz (1900), the Munchkins are little people who live in the land of Oz.

Unfortunately, the chairs at Momo are of the children's bedroom variety and if you hang your jacket on the back, it dusts the floor. Meanwhile, waiters loom over you in their designer Momo T-shirts .. . and in this unnecessarily authentic and uncomfortable Munchkin world, even for a regular-sized woman like me, scrunched-up Madam looked—and apparently felt—like the Wicked Witch of the West.

The Observer, 1997

Thumbelina Thumbelina is a tiny girl in a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen who, after being rescued by a swallow, marries the equally tiny king of the Angels of the Flowers.

Tom Thumb Tom Thumb was the hero of an English folk tale, the son of a

3 5 2 SMILES

ploughman and his wife who was only as tall as his father's thumb. After many adventures he was knighted by King Arthur. General Tom Thumb was the name given to Charles Stratton (1838-83), an American midget exhibited in the Barnum and Bailey shows.


The two most famous smiles could hardly be more different. The CHESHIRE CAT has an enormous grin, the MONA LISA a faint, almost imperceptible upturn at the corners of her mouth. • See also Happiness.

Cheshire Cat In Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Alice encounters a large cat grinning from ear to ear. When she asks the Duchess the reason for this, the Duchess replies 'It's a Cheshire Cat, and that's why'. Later Alice watches the Cheshire Cat vanish 'beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone'. The expression 'to grin like a Cheshire cat', meaning to grin fixedly and broadly, pre-dates Carroll's story. • See special entry ALICE IN WONDERLAND on p. 10.

He nodded and was gone. The unnatural brightness of his smile seemed to linger in the air after the door closed, like the smile of a Cheshire cat.

RAYMOND CHANDLER The High Window, 1943

He seated himself, dodged a lump of sugar which a friendly hand had thrown from a neighbouring table, and beamed on his friends like a Cheshire cat.

p. c. woDEHOusE Cocktail Time, 1958

He disappeared, leaving a cackle hanging in the air behind him like the Cheshire cat's grin.

MIKE PHILLIPS Point of Darkness, 1994

Gioconda • See MONA LISA.

Jolly Green Giant The Jolly Green Giant is the trademark of the Green Giant food company, producers of sweetcorn and other tinned and frozen vegetables. He is a friendly green-skinned giant who booms, 'Ho, ho, ho!'

My father sits at the head of the table, beaming like the Jolly Green Giant.


Mona Lisa The Mona Lisa is the title of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps the most famous painting in the world. The painting is also known as La Gioconda because the sitter was the wife of Francesco di Bartolommeo del Giocondo di Zandi. Her enigmatic smile has become one of the most famous images in Western art. The painting is now in the Louvre, Paris.

Time had wrought another change too; not for her the sly, complacent smile of la


Cioconda; the years had been more than 'the sound of lyres and flutes', and had saddened her.

EVELYN WAUCH Brideshead Revisited, 1945

She grinned a smile of pure gold; it was like seeing Mona Lisa break into a laugh. CHESTER HiMES Blind Man with a Pistol, 1969

Billy's smile as he came out of the shrubbery was at least as peculiar as Mona Lisa's.

KURT VONNECUT Slaughterhouse 5, 1969

wolf in Red Riding Hood In the traditional fairy story, Little Red Riding Hood is a young girl sent by her mother to take cakes to her sick grandmother's remote cottage. A wolf eats the grandmother and takes her place in the bed, impersonating her when Red Riding Hood arrives. 'What big teeth you have!', the little girl says to her 'grandmother', to which the wolf replies: 'All the better to eat you with!'

Carl May smiled and it seemed to Bethany that his teeth were fangs and growing as long as the wolfs ever were in 'Red Riding Hood'.

FAY WELDON The Cloning of Joanna May, 1989


The figures below are renowned military strategists. Other leaders are

covered in the related theme Leaders. • See also Courage, War.

Alexander Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), the son of Philip II of Macedon, became king at 19 when his father was assassinated (336 BC). He defeated the Persians in three major battles, at the River Granicus, at Issus in Cilicia, and at Gaugamela, freeing the Greek city states and Egypt from Persian rule. While in Egypt he founded Alexandria. He extended his empire eastwards as far as India before dying young of a fever. Alexander is often cited as one of the greatest generals of all time.

Had Philip's warlike son been intellectually so far ahead as to have attempted civilization without bloodshed, he would have been twice the godlike hero that he seemed, but nobody would have heard of an Alexander.

THOMAS HARDY The Return of the Native, 1880

Monday dawned, the sun rising into the inevitable blue sky with the radiant serenity of Alexander entering a conquered province.

REGINALD HILL On Beulah Height, 1998

Hannibal Hannibal (247-182 BC) was the Carthaginian general who precipitated the second Punic War by attacking the town of Saguntum in Spain, an ally of Rome. He crossed the Alps in 218 with an army of about 30,000 and forty elephants. In Italy Hannibal inflicted a series of defeats on the Romans over a period of sixteen years but failed to take Rome itself. After being recalled to Africa to defend Carthage he was defeated at Zama by Scipio Africanus in


202. Hannibal has subsequently enjoyed a reputation as one of history's great military geniuses.

He is not the Caesar, but the Hannibal of French politics.

Century Magazine, 1883

Napoleon Napoleon Bonaparte (i769-1821), born in Corsica, became commander-in-chief of the French army in Italy at the age of 27. A coup d'état three years later established him initially asfirstconsul, then as consul for life, and finally, in 1804, as emperor of France. Napoleon conquered and ruled much of Europe, establishing an extensive European empire, until his final defeat at the battle of Waterloo in 1815. He is often cited as an example of a brilliant campaigner and strategist.

'Oh, shucks!' said the youth. 'You ain't the bravest man in the world, are you?' 'No, I ain't,' exclaimed the loud soldier indignantly, 'and I didn't say I was the bravest man in the world neither. I said I was going to do my share of fighting—that's what I said and I am, too. Who are you anyhow? You talk as if you thought you was Napoleon Bonaparte.'

STEPHEN CRANE The Red Badge of Courage, 1895

General Patton George Smith Patton (1885-1945) was an American general who commanded US forces in the Second World War. Known as 'Old Blood and Guts', he pursued an aggressive military strategy, taking the 3rd Army across France and Germany as far as the Czech border.

Wellington The ist Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) was a British soldier and statesman. His military victories included those against the French during the Peninsular War (1808-14) and in particular the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo (1815).

Well, I don't want to be a soldier, he thought. I know that. So that's out. I just want us to win this war. I guess really good soldiers are really good at very little else, he thought. That's obviously untrue. Look at Napoleon and Wellington. You're very stupid this evening, he thought.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1941


This theme incorporates two main ideas: solitude and the state of being an exile or an outcast, ADAM, ROBINSON CRUSOE, and JESUS can all be used to represent solitude, being in a place without the company of other people.

GRETA CARBO and HOWARD HUCHES are more recent examples of social recluses. The other group—CAIN, HAGAR, ISHMAEL, MARIUS, and the WANDER-

ING JEW—are representative of outcasts or exiles, those shunned by other people or banished from their home.

Adam According to the Book of Genesis in the Bible, Adam was the first man,


created by God from the dust of the ground. Adam lived alone in the Garden of Eden until God created a companion for him: this was the first woman Eve, made from one of Adam's ribs. • See special entry D ADAM AND EVE on p. 5.

But here . . . shut in by the stable hills, among which mere walking had the novelty of pageantry, any man could imagine himself to be Adam without the least difficulty.

THOMAS HARDY The Return of the Native, 1880

Cain In the Bible, Cain was the eldest son of Adam and Eve who murdered his own brother Abel (Gen. 4: 1-16). For this crime God expelled him from his homeland so that he was forced to spend the rest of his life wandering the earth as an outcast. God put a mark on him to indicate that no one should kill him and thus shorten the punishment. • See special entry n CAIN on p. 44.

'If I had only got her with me—if I only had!' he said. 'Hard work would be nothing to me then! But that was not to be. I—Cain—go alone as I deserve—an outcast and a vagabond.'

THOMAS HARDY The Mayor of Casterbridge, 1886

Robinson Crusoe The eponymous hero of Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe (1719) survives a shipwreck and lives on an uninhabited island for twentyfour years, at first alone and later joined by Man Friday. Crusoe's adventures are based on those of Alexander Selkirk (1676-1721), a sailor who, at his own request, was put ashore on an island in the Pacific and survived there for over four years. One of the most memorable episodes in the novel is Crusoe's horrified discovery of a footprint on the beach.

Once, like another Crusoe, by the edge of the river he came upon a track—the faint tracery of a snowshoe rabbit on the delicate snow-crust. It was a revelation. There was life in the Northland.

JACK LONDON In a Far Country 1900

He must have found the recipe in the pages of Postlethwaite's Vade Mecum For Travellers in Foreign Lands, a book which he kept under lock and key in his trunk and by which he absolutely swore. It contained, he said, everything that a man in Robinson Crusoe's position ought to know—even how to make a fire by rubbing sticks together; it was a mine of marvellous information.


Greta Garbo Greta Garbo (1905-90) was born in Sweden as Greta Gustafsson. She became a successful Hollywood actress, renowned for her beauty, and starred in films such as Queen Christina (1933), Anna Karenina (1935), and Ninotchka (1939). She gave up her film career in 1941 and remained a recluse from then until her death. The phrase 'I want to be alone', used by Garbo in the 1932 film Grand Hotel, became closely identified with her.

Fischer withdrew completely from professional chess and entered a Carboesque seclusion, freezing in perpetuity the popular image of himself as the intense young man from Brooklyn who had triumphed so spectacularly at Reykjavik.

The Independent, 1992

Ben Gunn Ben Gunn is the marooned pirate in Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure story Treasure Island. Abandoned on the island by his shipmates, he


has spent three years alone, living on 'goats and berries and oysters', and dreaming of toasted cheese.

'Well, here I am, marooned,' Kay said to himself; keeping well under cover lest they should send another cannon ball. 'Now I am like poor Ben Gunn in Treasure Island: unless I am able to run down the goats, if there are any, I am not likely to get much dinner.'

JOHN MASEFIELD The Box of Delights, 1935

Hagar In the Bible, Hagar was the Egyptian maid of Abraham's wife Sarah. Hagar bore Abraham a son, Ishmael (Gen. 16: 21). She and Ishmael were driven away as outcasts after Sarah gave birth to Isaac.

Beside the milk-bush sat the Kaffir woman still—like Hagar, he thought, thrust out by her mistress in the wilderness to die.

OLIVE SCHREINER The Story of an African Farm, 1883

Howard Hughes Howard Hughes (1905-76) was an American millionaire businessman and film producer who became a recluse for the last twenty-five years of his life.

But as Olazabal was producing his pyrotechnics, David Gilford was slipping surreptitiously around in 67. This excellent Staffordshire player is as determinedly anonym-


as Howard Hughes and despite the presence

of microphones in the press

interview area, it was still difficult to make out what

he was saying.


Guardian, 1995


Ishmael The biblical Ishmael was the son of Abraham by Hagar, the maid of Abraham's wife, Sarah. Ishmael was cast out when Sarah gave birth to Isaac. The name of Ishmael, like that of his mother, Hagar, is used allusively for an outcast. The name is used for the narrator of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the opening words of which are 'Call me Ishmael'.

I always did hate those people . . . and they always have hated and always will hate me. I am an Ishmael by instinct as much as by accident of circumstances, but if I keep out of society I shall be less vulnerable than Ishmaels generally are.

SAMUEL BUTLER The Way of All Flesh, 1903

They were a jumble of people wearing about every tinge of skin there is. Inman guessed them to be as outlaw and Ishmaelite as himself. Show folk, outliers, a tribe of Irish gypsy horse traders all thrown in together.

CHARLES FRAZIER Cold Mountain, 1997

Jesus The episode in the life of Jesus that is being alluded to in the quotation below is his forty days' fast in the wilderness as related in the New Testament (Matt. 4: 1-11). >See special entry n JESUS on p. 223.

'I been thinkin',' he said. 'I been in the hills thinkin', almost you might say like Jesus went into the wilderness to think His way out of a mess of troubles!

JOHN STEINBECK The Grapes of Wrath, 1939

Lone Ranger The Lone Ranger is a masked law-enforcer in the American West, created in 1933 by George W. Trendle and Fran Striker for a radio series and popularized in a later TV series (1956-62). In the stories he is sometimes


accompanied by an American Indian called Tonto. The Lone Ranger's name, though, is generally applied to an individual who acts alone in undertaking a rescue mission of some kind.

'I don't think of myself as an opera director,' insists Jonathan Miller, 'I can't read music and I don't even go to the opera very much! But for 25 years Dr Miller has been the Lone Ranger of the international opera world, the outsider whose productions strip away the cliches and hammy performances imposed by tradition.

The Daily Telegraph, 1997

'I thought it was about time I reciprocated in this life-saving business. I had a deal with Rob. We agreed that whichever of us you called first would tell the other and join forces in the rescue.'

'How did you know there'd be a rescue?' Mark asked, his head muzzy and hurtling, his voice slurred.

'Just call me Mystic Meg. Come on Mark. The days of the Lone Ranger are far behind. Everybody needs their Tonto.'

MEL STEIN White Lines, 1997

MarillS Gaius Marius (157-86 BC), the great Roman general, was overcome by his rival, Sulla, and fled to Africa, landing at Carthage. When the Roman governor there sent word that he had to leave the country, Marius's reply was: 'Tell the praetor you have seen Gaius Marius a fugitive sitting among the ruins of Carthage.'

And here Bartleby makes his home; sole spectator of a solitude which he has seen all populous—a sort of innocent and transformed Marius brooding among the ruins of Carthage!

HERMAN MELVILLE Bartleby, 1856

Pied Piper Robert Browning's narrative poem 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin' (1842) tells how the Piper agrees to rid the town of Hamelin of rats by piping them to their destruction in the river. When the Mayor then reneges on his payment for this service, the Piper gets his revenge by leading the town's children away. They follow the exciting promise of his piping into an opened portal in the mountain-side. One child, however, is lame and cannot keep up with the rest. He explains his subsequent lifelong sadness and solitude towards the end of the poem:

'And just as I became assured

My lame foot would be speedily cured, The music stopped and I stood still, And found myself outside the hill, Left alone against my will,

To go now limping as before,

And never hear of that country more!'

It is a thought that has occurred to Rio di Angelo, a former member of Heaven's Gate, the suicide cult whose membership checked out en masse in March after announcing their departure on the Internet. Like the last child, too lame to follow the Pied Piper into the mountain, di Angelo was left behind.

The Observer, 1997

Wandering Jew In medieval legend, the Wandering Jew was a man condemned to roam the earth until the Day of Judgement, as a punishment for

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