- [p. 5] "[...] young Magrat, she of the [...] tendency to be soppy about raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens."
One of the best songs from The Sound of Music is called 'My Favourite Things' (it's the song Maria sings for the Von Trapp children when they are all frightened by the thunderstorm). The opening verse goes:
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,
Bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens,
Brown paper packages, tied up with strings,
These are a few of my favourite things.
The Von Trapp children would probably have murdered Magrat if she had been their governess.
- [p. 11] "But that was a long time ago, in the past [footnote: Which is another country]"
This might refer to Hamlet, where the future is described as "The undiscover'd country from whose bourn / No traveller returns", or perhaps Terry has read The Go-between, a 1950 book by L. P. Hartley, which opens with the words: "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there", which has become a familiar quotation in England.
- [p. 11] "And besides, the bitch is... ...older."
This is another Christopher Marlowe quote, from The Jew of Malta (act IV, scene i):
Barnadine: "Thou hast committed --"
Barabas: "Fornication? But that was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead."
- [p. 16] "This was the octarine grass country."
A reference to (Kentucky) bluegrass country.
- [p. 16] "Then, [...] the young corn lay down. In a circle."
An explanation of the Crop Circle phenomenon might be in order here.
Crop Circles are circular patches of flattened crops which have appeared in fields of cereals in the South and West of England over the last few years. There is no firm evidence pointing to their cause: this has been taken by certain parties as a prima facie proof that they are of course caused by either alien spacecraft or by some supernatural intelligence, possibly in an attempt to communicate.
In recent years, circle systems have become increasingly elaborate, most notably in the case of a circle in the shape of the Mandelbrot Set, and another system which is shown on the cover of the recent Led Zeppelin compilation album, which seems to indicate that whoever's up there they probably have long hair and say "Wow!" and "Yeah!" a lot. A number of staged circle-forging challenges in the summer of '92 have demonstrated both how easy it is to produce an impressive circle by mundane, not to say frivolous methods, and also the surprisingly poor ability of 'cereologists' to distinguish what they describe as a "genuine" circle from one "merely made by hoaxers".
Anyone with a burning desire to believe in paranormal explanations is
invited to post to the newsgroup
sci.skeptic an article asserting
essentially "I believe that crop circles are produced by UFO's/Sun
Spots/The Conservative Government/The Easter Bunny" and see how far they
- [p. 19] "Nanny Ogg never did any housework herself, but she was the cause of housework in other people."
alt.fan.pratchett it was postulated that this sounded a bit too
much like a quote not to be a quote (annotation-hunters can get downright
paranoid at times), but it took us a while to figure out where it
originated, although in retrospect we could have used Occam's razor and
looked it up in Shakespeare immediately. In King Henry IV, part 2, act 1, scene 2, Falstaff says: "I am not only witty in myself, but the cause
that wit is in other men."
- [p. 21] "Some people are born to kingship. Some achieve kingship, or at least Arch-Generalissimo-Father-of-His-Countryship. But Verence had kingship thrust upon him."
The original quote is (as usual) by William Shakespeare, from Twelfth Night (act 2, scene 5), where Malvolio reads in a letter (which he thinks was written to him by his mistress):
"In my stars I am above thee; but be not afraid of greatness: some
are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness
thrust upon 'em."
- [p. 21] "Now he was inspecting a complicated piece of equipment. It had a pair of shafts for a horse, and the rest of it looked like a cartful of windmills. [...] 'It's a patent crop rotator,' said Verence."
The patent crop rotator is an agricultural tool that might not figure very prominently in your day-to-day conversation (possibly since no such machine exists: crop rotation means growing different things in a field in successive years) but British comedy writers are apparently fascinated by it. Several people wrote to tell me that the cult TV comedy series The Young Ones also used the patent crop rotator in their episode Bambi.
When Neil (the hippy) is testing Rick (the nerd) on medieval history, the following dialogue ensues (edited somewhat for clarity):
Rick: 'Crop rotation in the 14th century was considerably more widespread... after... God I know this... don't tell me... after 1172?'
Rick: 'Crop rotation in the 14th century was considerably more widespread after John?'
Neil: '...Lloyd invented the patent crop rotator.'
- [p. 22] "'I asked Boggi's in Ankh-Morpork to send up their best dress-maker [...]'"
Boggi's = Gucci's.
- [p. 29] "[...] it was always cheaper to build a new 33-MegaLith circle than upgrade an old slow one [...]"
Think CPU's and MHz.
- [p. 30] "I LIKE TO THINK I AM A PICKER-UP OF UNCONSIDERED TRIFLES. Death grinned hopefully."
In Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale we find the character Autolycus ("a Rogue"), saying in act 4, scene 2:
"My father named me Autolycus; who being, as I am, littered under
Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles."
- [p. 31] "'My lord Lankin?'"
Lord Lankin is a character in a traditional folk ballad:
Then Lankin's tane a sharp knife
that hung down by his gaire
And he has gi'en the bonny nane
A deep wound and a sair
- [p. 50] "One of them was known as Herne the Hunted. He was the god of the chase and the hunt. More or less."
Shakespeare. See the annotation for p. 145 of Wyrd Sisters .
- [p. 57] The names of the would-be junior witches.
Two of the names resonate with the names used in Good Omens: Agnes Nitt is similar to Agnes Nutter, and Amanita DeVice (Amanita is also the name of a gender of deadly poisonous mushrooms) is similar to Anathema Device. There's also a Perdita in Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale; the name means 'damned' or 'lost'.
In fact, all these names are based on the names of the so-called Lancashire Witches. The deeds of this group on and around Pendle Hill were the subject of probably England's most famous 17th century witchhunt and trials. The story is described in some fictional detail in a little-known book called, surprise, The Lancashire Witches, written at the end of the nineteenth century in Manchester by William Harrison Ainsworth.
Interestingly enough, Ainsworth also wrote a book called Windsor Castle in which Herne the Hunter appears as a major character (see previous annotation).
- [p. 62] The names of the "new directions".
'East of the Sun, West of the Moon': a fairly well-known phrase used, amongst others, by Tolkien in a poem, by Theodore Roosevelt as the title for a book on hunting, and by pop-group A-ha as an album title. It originally is the title of an old Scandinavian fairy tale, which can be found in a book by Kay Nielsen, titled East of the Sun and West of the Moon -- Old Tales from the North. Terry has confirmed that this book was his source for the phrase.
'Behind the North Wind': from the title of a book by George McDonald: At the Back of the North Wind, the term itself being a translation of Hyperborea.
'At the Back Of Beyond': an idiom, perhaps originating from Sir Walter Scott's The Antiquary: "Whirled them to the back o' beyont".
'There and Back Again': The sub-title of Tolkien's The Hobbit.
'Beyond the Fields We Know': from Lord Dunsany's novel The King of Elfland's Daughter, where "the fields we know" refers to our world, as opposed to Elfland, which lies 'beyond'. The phrase was also used as the title of a collection of Dunsany's stories.
- [p. 63] "'You know, ooh-jar boards and cards [...] and paddlin' with the occult.'"
ooh-jar = Ouija. See the annotation for p. 136 of Reaper Man .
- [p. 66] "'... and to my freind Gytha Ogg I leave my bedde and the rag rugge the smith in Bad Ass made for me, [...]'"
The origins of the 'rag rugge' are more fully explained in Equal Rites.
- [p. 76] "'Kings are a bit magical, mind. They can cure dandruff and that.'"
Well, for one thing kings can cure dandruff by permanently removing people's heads from their shoulders, but I think that what Terry is probably referring to here is the folk-superstition that says that a King's touch can cure scrofula (also known as the King's Evil), which is a tubercular infection of the lymphatic glands.
A similar type of legend occurs in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, but Shakespeare also has a lot to say on the subject in Macbeth, act 4, scene 3.
- [p. 76] "Within were the eight members of the Lancre Morris Men [...] getting to grips with a new art form."
In fact, many real life Morris teams put on so-called 'Mummers Plays': traditional plays with a common theme of death and resurrection. These ritual plays are performed on certain key days of the year, such as Midwinter's Day (Magrat's wedding is on Midsummer's Eve!), Easter, or All Souls Day (Halloween), at which time the Soul Cake play is performed. I am also told that a Soul Cake, traditionally served at All Souls, is similar to a Madeira Sponge (or 'yellow cake' as the Americans call it).
- [p. 77] "'We could do the Stick and Bucket Dance,' volunteered Baker the weaver."
There are Morris dances that use sticks, but according to my sources there aren't any that use buckets. Jason's reluctance to do this dance has its parallels in real world Morris dancing: at least in one area (upstate New York), a dance called the Webley Twizzle has a reputation for being hazardous to one's health, which is perhaps why it's hardly ever danced. It has even been claimed that someone broke his leg doing it, although no one seems to know any details. Of course, the reluctance of the Lancre Morris Men to perform the 'Stick and Bucket' may also have to do with the fact that the name of the dance very probably indicates another 'mettyfor' along the lines of maypoles and broomsticks.
See the ...and Dance section in Chapter 5 for more information about Morris dancing.
- [p. 77] "'I repaired a pump for one once. Artisan wells.'"
Jason Ogg is thinking of Artesian Wells, a kind of well that gets its name from the French town of Artois, where they were first drilled in the 12th century.
- [p. 77] "'And why's there got to be a lion in it?' said Baker the weaver."
Because the play-within-a-play performed by the rude mechanicals in A Midsummer Night's Dream (act 1, scene 2) also features a lion in a starring role, of course.
The Morris Men's discussions on plays and lions reminded one of my sources of the play written by Moominpapa in Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson. When asked about it, Terry said that although he has read the Moomin books, the lion dialogue is not connected with them.
- [p. 78] "'Hah, I can just see a real playsmith putting donkeys in a play!'"
A Midsummer Night's Dream, by that mediocre hack-writer William S., is an example of a real play that has a donkey in it. Or to be absolutely precise, a character magically cursed with a donkey's head.
- [p. 79] "The Librarian looked out at the jolting scenery. He was sulking. This had a lot to do with the new bright collar around his neck with the word "PONGO" on it. Someone was going to suffer for this."
The taxonomic name for orangutans is 'Pongo pygmaeus'. And of course Pongo is a popular dog name as well, doubling the insult.
- [p. 86] "[...] universes swoop and spiral around one another like [...] a squadron of Yossarians with middle-ear trouble."
Terry writes: "Can it be that this is forgotten? Yossarian -- the 'hero' of Catch-22 -- was the bomber pilot who flew to the target twisting and jinking in an effort to avoid the flak -- as opposed to the Ivy League types who just flew nice and straight..."
A minor correction: Yossarian was not the pilot, but rather the bombardier, who kept screaming instructions to the pilot over the intercom, to turn hard right, dive, etc.
- [p. 86] "The universe doesn't much care if you step on a butterfly. There are plenty more butterflies."
This immediately recalls the famous science fiction short story A Sound of Thunder, by Ray Bradbury, which has as its basic premise that the universe cares very much indeed if someone steps on a butterfly.
- [p. 89] "'Good morning, Hodgesaargh,' she said."
Hodgesaargh is based on Dave Hodges, a UK fan who runs a project called The REAL Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. This is a computer database containing a couple of thousand entries (the project began in 1987) in the style of Douglas Adams's Hitch Hiker's Guide. Dave takes his Guide along with him to SF conventions and events, where he auctions off printed versions of the Guide in order to raise money for charity.
One of the entries in his Guide concerns a computer virus called "Terry", which, it says, "autographs all the files on the disk as well as any nearby manuals".
In real life Dave Hodges works for a firm that keeps birds away from airports and other places. To this purpose he sometimes uses a falcon called, yes, Lady Jane, who bites all the time, which gave Terry the idea for the character Hodgesaargh.
Note that there exist at least two other "let's write a Hitch Hikers Guide" projects on the Internet that I know of.
- [p. 89] "Verence, being king, was allowed a gyrfalcon [...]"
The complex issues of class distinction in falconry apparently existed in medieval times just as Terry describes them here. In The Once and Future King, T. H. White quotes a paragraph by Abbess Juliana Berners: "An emperor was allowed an eagle, a king could have a jerfalcon, and after that there was the peregrine for an earl, the merlin for a lady, the goshawk for a yeoman, the sparrow hawk for a priest, and the musket for a holy-water clerk."
- [p. 97] "[...] five flavours, known as 'up', 'down', 'sideways', 'sex appeal', and 'peppermint'."
The flavours of resons are a satire of the somewhat odd naming scheme modern physicists have chosen for the different known quarks, namely: 'up', 'down', 'strange', 'charm', and 'beauty' (in order of discovery and increasing mass).
Since theoretical physicists don't like odd numbers they have postulated the existence of a sixth quark -- 'truth', which was only recently created at FermiLab in the USA.
The beauty and truth quarks are often called 'bottom' and 'top' respectively. In earlier times (and sometimes even now), the strange quark was indeed called 'sideways'.
- [p. 97] "resons [footnote: Lit: 'Thing-ies']"
In Latin 'res' does indeed mean 'thing'.
- [p. 103] "'You are in my kingdom, woman,' said the Queen. 'You do not come or go without the leave of me.'"
This has echoes of another traditional ballad, this time 'Tam Lin':
Why come you to Carterhaugh
Without command of me?
I'll come and go, young Janet said,
And ask no leave of thee
As with some of the other folk song extracts Terry is closer to the recorded (in this case Fairport Convention) version than to the very early text in (say) the Oxford Book of Ballads.
- [p. 104] "'Head for the gap between the Piper and the Drummer!'"
There are several stone circles in England similar to the Dancers. Usually, legend has it that a group of dancers, revellers, ball players, etc. was turned to stone by the devil's trickery for not keeping the Sabbath, or for having too much fun, or for some other awful transgression. The Merry Maidens stone circle, with two nearby standing stones known as the Pipers, is one such site in Cornwall; the Stanton Drew stone circles near Bristol, the petrified remains of a wedding party that got out of control, also include a stone circle said to be dancers with a nearby set of stones representing the fiddlers.
- [p. 111] "Magrat had tried explaining things to Mrs Scorbic the cook, but the woman's three chins wobbled so menacingly at words like 'vitamins' that she'd made an excuse to back out of the kitchen."
The technical name for vitamin C is ascorbic acid.
- [p. 118] "'Like the horseshoe thing. [...] Nothing to do with its shape.'"
Granny refers to the traditional explanation for hanging horseshoes over the door, which is that they bring luck, but only if placed with the open side up -- otherwise the luck would just run out the bottom.
- [p. 125] "'Good morrow, brothers, and wherehap do we whist this merry day?' said Carter the baker."
It is impossible to list all the ways in which the sections about the Lancre Morris Men and the play they are performing parodies the play-within-a-play that occurs in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The only way to get full enjoyment here is to just go out and read Shakespeare. While you're at it, pay particular attention to the names and occupations of both Terry's and William's 'Rude Mechanicals'.
- [p. 125] "'And we're Rude Mechanicals as well?' said Baker the weaver."
Baker's next three lines are "Bum!", "Drawers!" and "Belly!". These come from a song by Flanders and Swann, which is called 'P**! P*! B****! B**! D******!'. The first verse goes:
Ma's out, Pa's out, let's talk rude!
Pee! Po! Belly! Bum! Drawers!
Dance in the garden in the nude,
Pee! Po! Belly! Bum! Drawers!
Let's write rude words all down the street;
Stick out our tongues at the people we meet;
Let's have an intellectual treat!
Pee! Po! Belly! Bum! Drawers!
- [p. 126] "'Yeah, everyone knows 'tis your delight on a shining night', said Thatcher the carter."
It is relevant that Thatcher is making this remark to Carpenter the poacher, because it is a line from the chorus of an English folk song called 'The Lincolnshire Poacher':
When I was bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire
Full well I served my master for more than seven year'
'Til I took up to poaching, as you shall quickly hear
Oh 'tis my delight on a shining night
In the season of the year!
- [p. 126] The three paths leading from the cross-roads in the woods are variously described as being "all thorns and briars", "all winding", and the last (which the Lancre Morris Men decide to take) as "Ferns grew thickly alongside it".
This echoes the poem and folk song Thomas the Rhymer, about a man who followes the Queen of Elves to Elfland:
O see ye not yon narrow road,
So thick beset wi' thorns and riers?
That is the Path of Righteousness,
Though after it but few enquires.
And see ye not yon braid, braid road,
That lies across the lily leven?
That is the Path of Wickedness,
Though some call it the Road to Heaven.
And see ye not yon bonny road
That winds about the fernie brae?
That is the Road to fair Elfland,
Where thou and I this night maun gae.
- [p. 128] "'But it ain't April!', neighbours told themselves [...]"
Inconsistency time! On p. 135 of Witches Abroad, Granny responds to Nanny Ogg's intention of taking a bath with the words "My word, doesn't autumn roll around quickly".
In subsequent discussions on the net it was postulated that Nanny's bath habits could well be explained by taking into account the fact that the Discworld has eight seasons (see first footnote in The Colour of Magic on p. 11), which might result in e.g. two autumns a year. And of course, on our world April is indeed a month in Autumn -- in the southern hemisphere (don't ask me if that also holds for a Discworld, though).
Personally, I tend to agree with Terry, who has once said: "There are no inconsistencies in the Discworld books; occasionally, however, there are alternate pasts".
- [p. 138] "[...] fed up with books of etiquette and lineage and Twurp's Peerage [...]"
Burke's Peerage is a book that lists the hereditary titled nobility of the British Realm (the Peers of the Realm, hence the title of the book). It contains biographical facts such as when they were born, what title(s) they hold, who they're married to, children, relationships to other peers, etc. For example, under 'Westminster, Duke of' it will give details of when the title was created, who has held it and who holds it now.
Also, 'twerp' and 'berk' (also spelt as 'burk') are both terms of abuse, with 'twerp' being relatively innocent, but with 'berk' coming from the Cockney rhyming slang for 'Berkshire Hunt', meaning 'cunt'.
- [p. 138] "It probably looked beautiful on the Lady of Shallot, [...]"
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote a well-known poem called The Lady of Shalott (see also e.g. Agatha Christie's The Mirror Crack'd). A shallot (double l, single t), however, is a small greenish/purple (octarine?) onion.
- [p. 139] "'I mean, we used to have a tradition of rolling boiled eggs downhill on Soul Cake Tuesday, but --'"
It is in fact a Lithuanian tradition (one of many) to roll boiled eggs downhill on Easter Sunday in a game similar to lawn bowls. The idea is to either (1) break the other person's egg, thereby eliminating them from the competition (although this can be risky, since your own egg may also break) or (2) to get your egg to just hit someone else's, in which case you win their egg. Similar traditions undoubtedly exist in many other European countries (in fact, I'm told it is also done in some English villages), though not in the Netherlands, where we'd be having extreme difficulties finding a spot high enough for an egg to be rolled down from in the first place.
This is the first mention in the Discworld books of Soul Cake Tuesday (as opposed to other days of the week; see also the annotation for p. 262 of Guards! Guards! ). Perhaps Terry finally settled on this day of the week because of the resonance with the traditional Pancake or Shrove Tuesday: the last Tuesday before Lent.
- [p. 140] "Even these people would consider it tactless to mention the word 'billygoat' to a troll."
This sentence used to have me completely stumped, until I discovered
(with the help of the ever helpful
alt.fan.pratchett correspondents) that
this refers to a well-known British fairy tale of Scandinavian origin
called 'The Three Billygoats Gruff'.
That tale tells the story of three billygoat brothers who try to cross a bridge guarded by, you guessed it, a mean troll who wants to eat them. Luckily, the troll wasn't very smart, so the first two goats were able to outwit him by passing him one at a time, each saying "Don't eat me, just wait for my brother who's much bigger and fatter than I am". The third goat, Big Billygoat Gruff, was big, all right. Big enough to take on the troll and butt him off the bridge and right over the mountains far from the green meadow (loud cheers from listening audience). So the troll was both tricked and trounced.
- [p. 147] "'I'll be as rich as Creosote.'"
Creosote = Croesus. See the annotation for p. 125 of Sourcery .
- [p. 156] "'All the hort mond are here,' Nanny observed [...]"
Hort mond = haut monde = high society.
- [p. 162] "'And there's this damn cat they've discovered that you can put in a box and it's dead and alive at the same time. Or something.'"
This is Schrödinger's cat. See also the annotation for p. 199.
- [p. 171] "'I was young and foolish then.' 'Well? You're old and foolish now.'"
More people than I can count have written, in the light of Terry's fondness for They Might Be Giants, pointing out their song 'I Lost My Lucky Ball and Chain':
She threw away her baby-doll
I held on to my pride
But I was young and foolish then
I feel old and foolish now
- [p. 172] "This made some of the grand guignol melodramas a little unusual, [...]"
Grand guignol, after the Montmartre, Paris theatre Le Grand Guignol, is the name given to a form of gory and macabre drama so laboriously horrific as to fall into absurdity.
- [p. 175] "'Mind you, that bramble jam tasted of fish, to my mind.' 'S caviar,' murmured Casanunda."
Many people recognised this joke, and mentioned a variety of different sources. Terry replied: "It's very, very old. I first heard it from another journalist about 25 years ago, and he said he heard it on the (wartime) radio when he was a kid. I've also been told it is a music-hall line."
- [p. 178] "Quite a lot of trouble had once been caused in Unseen University by a former Archchancellor's hat, [...]"
Refers back to certain events described more fully in Sourcery.
- [p. 180] Jane's All The World Siege Weapons
Jane's is a well known series of books/catalogues for military equipment of all sorts and types. There is a Jane's for aeroplanes, for boats, etc.
- [p. 199] "[...] in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious."
This is a reference to the well-known 'Schrödinger's cat' quantum theory thought-experiment in which a cat in a box is probabilistically killed, leaving it in a superposition of being alive and being dead until the box is opened and the wavefunction collapses.
- [p. 199] "Shawn dived sideways as Greebo went off like a Claymore mine."
A Claymore mine is an ingenious and therefore extremely nasty device. It is a small metal box, slightly curved. On the convex side is written "THIS SIDE TOWARDS THE ENEMY" which explains why literacy is a survival trait even with US marines. The box is filled with explosive and 600 steel balls. It has a tripod and a trigger mechanism, which can be operated either by a tripwire or, when the operator doesn't want to miss the fun, manually. When triggered, the device explodes and showers the half of the world which could have read the letters with the steel balls. Killing radius 100 ft., serious maiming radius a good deal more. Used to great effect in Vietnam by both sides.
- [p. 199] "Green-blue blood was streaming from a dozen wounds [...]"
This is a brilliant bit of logical extrapolation on Terry's part. Since iron is anathema to elves, they obviously can't have haemoglobin-based red blood. Copper-based (green) blood is used by some Earth animals, notably crayfish, so it's an obvious alternative. Of course, it was Star Trek that really made pointy-eared, green-blooded characters famous...
- [p. 205] "'This girl had her fiancé stolen by the Queen of Elves and she didn't hang around whining, [...]'"
A reference to the folk song 'Tam Lin', in which Fair Janet successfully wrests her Tam Lin from the Queen of Fairies, despite various alarming transformations inflicted on him.
- [p. 205] "'I'll be back.'"
Catchphrase used by Arnold Schwarzenegger in (almost) all his movies.
- [p. 207] "Ancient fragments chimed together now in Magrat's head."
The six lines given make up three different poems. From The Fairies, by Irish poet William Allingham (1850):
Up the airy mountain, down the rushy glen
We dare not go a-hunting for fear of little men
From a traditional Cornish prayer:
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggety beasties
and things that go bump in the night
Good Lord deliver us
And finally from a traditional school girls' skipping rhyme:
My mother said I never should
Play with the fairies in the wood
If I did, she would say
You naughty girl to disobey
Your hair won't grow, your shoes won't shine
You naughty little girl, you shan't be mine!
- [p. 213] "'[...] one and six, beetle crushers! [...] one, two, forward... bean setting!'"
This section demonstrates that Terry is not a Morris dancer himself; the terminology is not quite authentic enough. But "beetle crushers" is an actual Morris step, and "bean setting" is the name of a dance and, by extension, a name for a move used in that dance.
- [p. 215] "'Girls used to go up there if they wanted to get --'"
Women who wished to conceive would spend the night on the um, appropriate bit of the Cerne Abbas Giant site in Dorset. See the annotation for p. 302/217.
- [p. 216] "[...] the only other one ever flying around here is Mr Ixolite the banshee, and he's very good about slipping us a note under the door when he's going to be about."
If you haven't read Reaper Man yet, you may not realise that the reason why Mr Ixolite slips notes under the door is that he is the only banshee in the world with a speech impediment.
- [p. 217] "'They're nervy of going close to the Long Man. [...] Here it's the landscape saying: I've got a great big tonker.'"
The Discworld's Long Man is a set of three burial mounds. In Britain there is a famous monument called the Long Man of Wilmington, in East Sussex. It's not a mound, but a chalk-cut figure on a hillside; the turf was scraped away to expose the chalk underneath, outlining a standing giant 70 meters tall. There are several such figures in England, but only two human figures, this and the Cerne Abbas Giant.
Chalk-cut figures have to be recut periodically, which provides opportunities to bowdlerize them. This is probably why the Long Man of Wilmington is sexless; it was recut in the 1870s, when, presumably, public displays of great big tonkers were rather frowned upon. However, the other chalk-cut giant in Britain, the Cerne Abbas Giant in Dorset, is a nude, 55-meter-tall giant wielding a club, who has a tonker about 12 meters long, and proudly upraised. Nearby is a small earth enclosure where maypole dancing, etc. was once held.
- [p. 219] "They showed a figure of an owl-eyed man wearing an animal skin and horns."
I am told this description applies to the cave painting known as The Sorceror (a.k.a. The Magician, a.k.a. The Shaman) in the Trois Freres cave in Arieges, France.
- [p. 219] "There was a runic inscription underneath. [...] 'It's a variant of Oggham,' she said."
Ogham is the name of an existing runic script found in the British Isles (mostly in Ireland) and dating back at least to the 5th century.
- [p. 221] "'Hiho, hiho --'"
Disney's Snow White dwarfs. See the annotation for p. 73 of Moving Pictures .
- [p. 222] "'It's some old king and his warriors [...] supposed to wake up for some final battle when a wolf eats the sun.'"
Another one of Terry's famous Mixed Legends along the lines of the princess and the pea fairy tale in Mort.
The wolf bit is straight from Norse mythology. The wolf Fenris, one of Loki's monster children, will one day break free from his chains and eat the sun. This is one of the signs that the Götterdämmerung or Ragnarok has begun, and at this point the frost giants [Who presumably have still not returned the Gods' lawnmower] will cross the Rainbow Bridge and fight the final battle with the gods of Asgard and the heroes who have died and gone to Valhalla. See the last part of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle for details.
The sleeping king is one of the oldest and deepest folk-myths of western culture, some versions of the popular legend even have King Arthur and his warriors sleeping on the island of Anglesea. For more information, see e.g. the section about the Fisher King in Frazer's The Golden Bough, Jessie Weston's From Ritual To Romance and all the stuff that this leads into, such as Elliot's The Wasteland and David Lodge's Small World.
- [p. 227] "The place looked as though it had been visited by Genghiz Cohen."
Much later, in Interesting Times, we learn that Cohen the Barbarian's first name is, in fact, Genghiz.
With respect to the original pun on Genghiz Kahn, Terry says:
"As a matter of interest, I'm told there's a kosher Mongolian restaurant in LA called Genghiz Cohen's. It's a fairly obvious pun, if your mind is wired that way."
- [p. 227] "Queen Ynci wouldn't have obeyed..."
The ancient warrior queen Ynci is modelled on Boadicea (who led a British rebellion against the Romans). Boadicea's husband was the ruler of a tribe called the Iceni, which is almost Ynci backwards.
- [p. 231] "...I think at some point I remember someone asking us to clap our hands..."
From J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan:
[...] [Tinkerbell the Fairy] was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies. [...] "If you believe," [Peter Pan] shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."
- [p. 233] "'Millennium hand and shrimp.'"
One of the truly frequently asked questions on
alt.fan.pratchett used to
be: "Where does this phrase come from?" (Foul Ole Ron also uses it, in
The answer concerns Terry's experiments with computer-generated texts:
"It was a program called Babble, or something similar. I put in all kinds of stuff, including the menu of the Dragon House Chinese take-away because it was lying on my desk. The program attempted to make 'coherent' phrases (!) out of it all."
One of the other things Terry must have fed it were the lyrics to the song 'Particle Man' by They Might Be Giants (see the annotation for p. 199 of Soul Music ):
Universe man, universe man
Size of the entire universe man
Usually kind to smaller men, universe man
He's got a watch with a minute hand
A millennium hand, and an eon hand
When they meet it's happyland
Powerful man, universe man.
- [p. 236] "'I've got five years' worth of Bows And Ammo, Mum,' said Shawn."
In our world there is a magazine Guns And Ammo; this appears to be the Discworld equivalent.
- [p. 236] Shawn's speech.
Shawn's speech is a parody of the 'St Crispin's Day' speech in Shakespeare's King Henry V. See also the annotation for p. 239 of Wyrd Sisters .
- [p. 236] "[...] imitate the action of the Lancre Reciprocating Fox and stiffen some sinews while leaving them flexible enough [...]"
And this one is from the even more famous 'Once more unto the breach' speech, also from King Henry V:
"Then imitate the action of the tiger;
stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood."
- [p. 245] "'Ain't that so, Fairy Peaseblossom?'"
One of the fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream is called Peasblossom. In itself this is not very interesting, but it is directly relevant when you consider the point Granny is trying to make to the Elf Queen.
- [p. 252] "The King held out a hand, and said something. Only Magrat heard it. Something about meeting by moonlight, she said later."
In A Midsummer Night's Dream (act 2, scene 2), Oberon, King of the Fairies, says to Titania, Queen of the Fairies (with whom he has a kind of love/hate relationship): "Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania".
- [p. 253] "'You know, sir, sometimes I think there's a great ocean of truth out there and I'm just sitting on the beach playing with... with stones.'"
This paraphrases Isaac Newton. The original quote can be found in Brewster's Memoirs of Newton, Volume II, Chapter 27:
"I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me."
- [p. 261] "'Go ahead, [...] bake my quiche.'"
Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry again, another satire of the line which also inspired "FABRICATI DIEM, PVNC" (see the annotation for p. 48 of Guards! Guards! ).
- [p. 261] "'On with the motley. Magrat'll appreciate it.'"
"On with the motley" is a direct translation of the Italian "Vesti la giubba" which is the first line of a famous aria from the opera I Pagliacci. (Operatic arias are usually known by their first line or first few words). It is the bitter aria in which the actor Canio laments that he must go on stage even though his heart is breaking, and climaxes with the line 'Ridi Pagliaccio'.
- [p. 264] "Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, especially simian ones. They are not all that subtle."
Definitely a Tolkien reference this time. See the annotation for p. 183 of Mort .
There is a version frequently seen on the net in people's .signatures, which I am sure will have Terry's full approval. It runs: "Do not meddle in the affairs of cats, for they are subtle and will piss on your computer".
- [p. 267] "'My great-grandma's husband hammered it out of a tin bath and a couple of saucepans.'"
On a.f.p. the question was asked why, if Magrat's armour was fake and not made of iron at all, was it so effective against the Elves? Terry answers:
"A tin bath isn't made out of tin. It's invariably galvanised iron -- ie, zinc dipped. They certainly rust after a while."
- [p. 274] "[...] he called it The Taming Of The Vole [...]"
Shakespeare again, of course. A vole is a small animal, somewhat similar to a shrew.
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