- Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
Camp Bird Mine, Ouray, Ouray County, CO, is a gold-zinc-silver-lead-copper mine operated from 1896 to 1990. It located six miles south of Ouray and produced yearly 1.5 million ounces of gold and 4 million ounces of silver until 1990. Camp Bird.
". . . camel herd imported years ago . . ."
Camels were imported in 1855 for use by the U.S. Army as pack animals. They were quite capable, but the Army eventually abandoned them around the Civil War. Those that escaped became a feral population that survived in the Southwest until 1941. Wikipedia
kids in cylindrical hats
hotel pageboys. pix
A con man or fraudster, but the use here seems less malicious than usual.
Macking for a mack
Pimping for a pimp. Mack: a pimp (from English mackerel or French maquereau).
Karl Marx (1818-83) German socialist and economist, founder of modern international Communism. Based on study of the French Revolution, together with fellow exile, Friedrich Engels (1920-95), they wrote the Communist Manifesto (1848), a masterpiece of political proganganda. In 1867, Marx published Das Kapital, an extensive treatise on political economy, in German. The book is a critical analysis of capitalism and its practical economic application and also, in part, a critique of other related theories. Its first volume was published in 1867. Wikipedia entry
"The popular Shawn O'Farrell was created in Butte, Montana, a straight shot of whiskey followed with a glass of cold beer; it gave birth to the boilermaker." From this website
army "A" tents
A-Frame tents are canvas tents supported by a vertical pole at either end and a cord or horizontal pole between the two along the top. When viewed from the entrance end, they form a triangle, hence the name. Image of Civil War era A-Frames.
I.e., wife's conventional plea.
side o' beef
She is both rhyming on his name and comparing him to something that one hangs.
. . . want to do nothing but be down at them famous little feet
Like any self-respecting foot fetishist. Pynchon's use of the foot fetish trope goes back to The Crying of Lot 49 ("I Want to Kiss Your Feet" by Sick Dick and the Volkswagens), but is most panoramically displayed in Against the Day.
Actually mine school at Golden, 15 miles west?
(Clashing colors keep turning up as a motif.)
From the Racecourse Association: All racehorses are given the nominal birthday of January 1st. Thus a "two-year-old" born in June and one born in January of the same year are considered to be of the same age for the purposes of satisfying the conditions of some races re: weight carried. In reality, the January horse may be considered to have a significant advantage in terms of physical development at this early stage in its career.
Borrasca in Spanish means storm, squall, depression, or area of low pressure. But apparently it can also mean an exhausted mine, and 'Going borrasca' means "becoming mined-out". Interestingly, this is very close to the English word 'borassic', ie. out of cash. This comes from Cockney Rhyming Slang: 'boracic lint' meaning 'skint', ie without any money.
a slide in the San Juans named after a mine owner's wife.
- A real feature?
to fill the day
(Cf Dally and Frank.)
dead and gone, and therefore born again
Several characters in AtD have a similar experience—Lew Basnight on page 185 is an example.
Thrapston Cheesely III
"Aubergine" is French for eggplant. Cf. p. 67, "'my little eggplant.'"
Expensive yuppie gadget, eg iPod.
Obscure fuel-into-light motif variant.
About $75 today.
Compare to p.92 where $3.50 is given as a day's wage.
one who is overly fastidious in dress or ornament.
Antoine Amadie Peychaud, a Creole apothecary who moved to New Orleans from the West Indies and set up shop in the French Quarter in the early 1800s. weblink
A New Orleans cocktail. Wikipedia entry.
Read about absinthe in America at The Virtual Absinthe Museum.
...some form of zombie powder
the most common ingredients of Haitian "poudres zombi" according to this website are Canetoad (DMT, Bufotenin, heart steroids), Pufferfish (Tetrotodoxin) , Hispaniolan Common Tree Frog (?) and "Human Remains"(?).
A fabric having a crosswise ribbed effect made of silk, wool, or synthetic fibers weblink.
Medici collar is a flared, fan-shaped collar with a V-opening at the front popular in the 1540s and 1550s after similar styles seen in the portrait of Catherine de Medici in Wikipedia.
- a few samples here can't see any collar samples!
A chinchilla is a rodent with thick, valuable fur. Bastard here means 'false', so the cuffs resemble chinchilla fur but are not truly chinchilla.
Glissando (plural: glissandi) is a musical term that refers to either a continuous sliding from one pitch to another or an incidental scale played while moving from one melodic note to another.
(in fact, "glissando" should not be declined in the plural, so "glissandi" makes no sense at all. "glissando" would be the right word)
Just as it was for aeronauts, "Professor" was a customary title for pianists in low surroundings.
A polytheistic religion practiced chiefly by West-Indian Negroes, deriving principally from African cult worship and containing elements borrowed from the Catholic religion.
spelled "chaurice",[typo or variant?],it is a spicy Cajun pork sausage. See "POCHE'S, Smoked Chaurice" at Cajungrocer.com. There is a Portuguese variant, a garlic sausage with another spelling yet: Chouriço. The Mexican equivalent is "Chorizo."
A spicy, hearty stew or soup, found typically on the Gulf of Mexico in the U.S. and very common in Louisiana and the Lowcountry around Charleston, South Carolina. It usually consists of rice and soup, the latter can contain seafood (shrimp, crab or crawfish), fowl (duck, chicken) and other meats.
Also, étouffée, literally means smothered, choked off. It is a Creole seafood dish—see annotation to p. 29—a tangy tomato-based sauce, typically served over rice, similar to gumbo, very popular in New Orlean. The usual staple of an étouffée is crawfish, whereas shrimp or crabmeat are more often found in gumbos.
A genus of two species of deciduous trees in the family Lauraceae. It's root, bark, wood and leaves have many usages: perfumes, insect repellent, soft drink (root beer), dye, drugs and many others. The leaves are used for thickening sauces and soups, and when dried and ground are known as filé powder, a spice used in Cajun, Creole and other Louisiana cooking.
The Mafia first gained American attention via New Orleans at that time. In 1890, a New Orleans Police Superintendent was killed. Nineteen Sicilians were indicted and aquitted (bribes and jury tampering were rumored). After the acquittal, a lynch mob dispatched most of the defendents.
The original Italian phrase is "Va' a fare in culo" (usually shortened in "Vaffanculo", which in a southern italian pronounciation would in fact sound more or less "Vafangool'!" - Pynchon ear at its best!) meaning literally "go do it in the ass", or simply "fuck you."
Maman Tant Gras Hall
Earnest, albeit slightly imprecise translation from the French (Mama So Fat would translate as "Maman Si Grasse" or "Maman Si Grosse"). I'll give you that it's hard to imagine it means anything else than "Fat Mama's Hall" but even in Cajun, it sounds a little off, because of the masculine form of the adjective "Gras", which clashes with the feminine "Maman". Just a little nitpicking from this French-speaking contributor...
"Dope" Breedlove and his Merry Coons
Dope breeds love? Maybe Pynchon is lampooning the vicious stereotyping of the whole act, i.e. Those who named them consider them dumb,happy,love breeding black folk. For a partial list of coon references in AtD, see annotation to p. 48.
- On the name Breedlove: the Breedlove family are the (African American) central characters in Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye. There's also a line in Tom Waits's song 'Cold, Cold Ground' that goes 'Call the cops on the Breedloves...'
Sudden loss of muscle power following a strong emotional stimulus.
The temporary paralysis or hypnotic state in animals when 'shamming death.' 
Equipment, gear, luggage. Trappings, as in dress, ornamental equipment or decoration.
Ramos gin fizz
Another New Orleans cocktail. Wikipedia entry.
At the core of anarchist thought lies the contention that all forms of domination are hateful, that government is not just unnecessary but harmful. Early believers in England and France held that the workers should avoid involvement in parliamentary politics, and should liberate themselves by direct action on the streets and in the factories. As a result of an extreme reaction against the extreme autocracy of the Russian Empire, two famous Russian anarchists, Mikhail Bakunin (1814-76) and Prince Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), proclaimed that anarchists organize in order to destroy states. German anarchist Max Sirner (1806-56) stressed the absolute rights of the individual to freedom from institutional control. This principle ruled out any chance of an effective anarchist organization. Anarchism inspired the birth of modern terrorism. The idea was that sensational acts of murder or destruction would publicize injustice, break the resolve of government policy, and shatter the nerve of the ruling elite. (taken from Norman Davies' Europe: A History (1996).)
From 1881-1908, Benjamin Tucker (1854-1939) published the anarchist journal Liberty with the telling subtitle The Mother, not the Daughter, of Order. Tucker was an ardent defender of Individualist Anarchism. In an issue of Liberty he wrote:
- Ireland's true order: the wonderful Land League, the nearest approach, on a large scale, to perfect Anarchistic organization that the world has yet seen. An immense number of local groups, scattered over large sections of two continents separated by three thousand miles of ocean; each group autonomous, each free; each composed of varying numbers of individuals of all ages, sexes, races, equally autonomous and free; each inspired by a common, central purpose; each supported entirely by voluntary contributions; each obeying its own judgment; each guided in the formation of its judgment and the choice of its conduct by the advice of a central council of picked men, having no power to enforce its orders except that inherent in the convincing logic of the reasons on which the orders are based; all coordinated and federated, with a minimum of machinery and without sacrifice of spontaneity, into a vast working unit, whose unparalleled power makes tyrants tremble and armies of no avail. [Emphasis added]
The Irish Land League was an Irish political organization (Land League) founded by Michael Davitt in 1879. Its aim was to abolish the abuse and excesses of absentee landlords in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land they worked on. The period (1870s, 1880s and 1890s) of the Land League's agitation is known in Ireland as the Land War, actually not a "war" but rather a prolonged period of civil unrest (Land War).
The Fenian Brotherhood was initially founded in 1858 as the Irish Republican Brotherhood's American branch by John O'Mahony, James Stephens, and Michael Doheny, to overthrow the oppressive British Rule in Ireland. In the face of nativist suspicion, it quickly established an independent existence, although it still worked to gain Irish-American support for armed rebellion in Ireland.
Initially, O'Mahony ran operations in the USA, sending funds to Stephens and the IRB in Ireland, disagreement over O'Mahony's leadership led to the formation of two Fenian Brotherhoods in 1865. The U.S. chapter of the movement was also sometimes referred to as the IRB. After the failed invasion of Canada, it was replaced by Clan na Gael.
"Fenian" became a denigrating term for any group against British Imperialism in Ireland, and as the Irish are wont to do with the language forced on them, it was turned around to become a badge of honor, still used in the North (Unrepentant Fenian Bastard!) on t-shirts, mugs, and as the title of a song by Chris Byrne. The word is derived from the name of the warriors (Fianna) who protected the ARD RI (High King) of Eire.
An article in the OED on the etymology of the word Jazz by a Bob Rigter traces the word to French "Chasser" and says the word "jass' was in use in New Orleans around 1900!
- "The Grand Larousse de la Langue Française (1971) derives CHASSER from Classical Latin CAPTARE. It provides two related meanings: 'chercher à prendre' and 'pousser devant soi, obliger à avancer ... faire avancer rapidement'. Clearly, the first can be related to the sexual connotation, and the second to the rhythmical connotation of the word JASS as it was used in New Orleans round 1900."
"Ken Burns Films on Jazz" Has anyone seen the Ken Burns film series on Jazz? According to this excellent film series the word Jass was actually derived from the word Jasmine. Jasmine was the favorite fragrance of the prostitutes in New Orleans. But what happened was that certain people would have fun with the Marquees. For example: A marquee would say "John Doe and his Jass Band". Someone would knock off the 'J' and it became "John Doe and his ass Band". For this reason they changed it from Jass to Jazz. I'm pretty sure this is covered in detail in the first or second volume of the Jazz film series.
Wolfe Tone O'Rooney
Although there is speculation that Pynchon had in mind Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), an Irish revolutionary who is considered "the father of Irish Republicanism," it may also be a nod to Slim Gaillard (1916-1991), an early and eccentric jazz musician. Read the discussion... It isn't really a matter of speculation. The point is that O'Rooney comes from a family that has given him the names Wolfe Tone in honour of the Irish hero Theobald Wolfe Tone. Thomas Kenneally's Book 'The Great Shame' tells the story of the Irish revolutionaries who came to America and there are a few Wolfe Tones among them.
The word boycott arose in the autumn of 1880 to describe the action instituted by the Irish Land League towards those who incurred its hostility and is derived from the name of Captain Charles Boycott (1832-79), an English estate agent of an absentee landlord, the Earl Erne. Captain Boycott not only refused the protesting farmers' demand of rent reduction but also ejected them from the land. But in retaliation, the Land League engineered his social ostracism, proclaiming "Let every man in the parish turn his back on him; have no communications with him; have no dealings with him". His workers stopped working in his fields and in his house. Local businessmen stopped trading with him and the postman refused to delivery his mail. Wikipedia.
. . . a metaphorical device whose tenor . . .
Refers to I.A. Richards' identification of metaphor as two discrete elements, "tenor" and "vehicle." In "my love is a rose," "my love" is the tenor, "a rose," the vehicle (see the Wikipedia entry Metaphor for more). The reference to tenor is a reminder that metaphor is itself a doubling, refractory device.
New Orleans night club on Rampart Street. In the "Back o Town" district, also called the "colored red light district," it was in its day quite a dive. Still in operation.
the Deux Espèces
French: the Two Species. In Roman Catholic liturgy, la sainte Communion sous les deux espèces is "Holy Communion under both kinds," that is, when the communicant receives both the wine and the Host.
Skinny man (Spanish) or, as a nom de guerre, "Slim."
"the more repressive the State is, the closer life under it resembles Death"
An allusion to the theories of Mexican-American psychoanalyst Norman O. Brown, whose works, Life Against Death (1959) and Love's Body (1966) were an important influence on Gravity's Rainbow. Brown, elaborating on and radicalizing Freud's theories of the death drive as discussed in Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), argues that all submission to the state necessarily constitutes a form of psychic repression. Brown saw this repression as resulting from a desire for and ultimately being tantamount to death.
- Those interested should seek out Lawrence C. Wolfley's excellent article "Repression's Rainbow: The Presence of Norman O. Brown in Pynchon's Big Novel," first published in PMLA, Vol. 92, No. 5 (Oct., 1977), pp. 873-889, but reprinted frequently.
the bombing of the Teatro Lyceo during a performance of Rossini's opera William Tell
On November 7, 1893, the opening night of the season, an anarchist dissident threw two bombs into the Barcelona opera house; only one bomb exploded, killing twenty and injuring many more.
"Lyceum" (Catalan liceu, Spanish liceo or lyceo, French lycée, etc.) varies in meaning from country to country. The original Lyceum was the Athens garden where Aristotle taught. In some places the word refers to a secondary school, in others a cultural institution. Lyceum is among the most popular names for theaters in the English-speaking world.
Wikipedia has possibly redundant entries for the Opera House, Barcelona, Rossini, William Tell, and Barcelona's Conservatori Superior de Música del Liceu, the musical conservatory for which the Teatro was built.
Catalan for "Hill of the Jews," a broad hill overlooking Barcelona, atop which a 17th century fortress sits. The fortress shelled the city in 1842 following a popular uprising and was used through the reign of Franco to hold political prisoners. Wikipedia.
Spanish landed estates, a remnant of the Roman social order. Wikipedia.
Anarchist Czolgosz had assassinated McKinley
Leon Czolgosz, the son of a Polish immigrant in Detroit, MI, shot and mortally wounded President McKinley on September 6, 1901 in Buffalo, New York, at the Temple of Music at the Pan-American Exhibition, a World's Fair held in Buffalo because it could be powered by electricity from Niagara Falls. McKinley died on September 16. Czolgosz was quickly found guilty and was executed by electrocution October 29, 1901. Wikipedia entries for Czolgosz, McKinley, and the Pan-American Exposition.
the Paris Commune
The "socialist government that briefly ruled Paris from 18 March (more formally from 26 March) to 28 May 1871," cited from Wikipedia.
a single point . . . upon the next
That is, a place that is beyond time, where the movement of the meridians (lines of longitude) have no effect. The only part of the earth where this is literally true is the axis. See, therefore, the Chums' journey through the Telluric Interior," pp. 114-18.
New Orleans-style square, holeless doughnuts usually sprinkled with powdered sugar, famously served at Cafe Du Monde. Website.
Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876), Russian anarchist and revolutionary. Wikipedia entry.
Peter Kropotkin (1842-1921), Russian prince and anarchist, author of Mutual Aid. Wikipedia entry.
Wolfe Tone takes a historic name. In 1815 Eusebio Gómez received a royal land grant that included now-prosperous Jupiter Island, Florida. The land was later subdivided and, around 1900, a British development company acquired it.
a sus órdenes
Sp., "at your service."
The Light Over the Ranges
Against the Day
Rue du Départ
- The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd. Ed. 1989.