Aberration of Light
160; In 1729, Dr. Bradley published his discovery of the aberration of light, providing the first observational proof of the Copernican hypothesis that the Earth revolved around the Sun and not vice versa); Explanation;173; 181; 188; See also Bradley, Dr. James

148; at World's End

456; Archaic form of 'accounts'. Senior accountants are still sometimes called comptrollers.

Acta Thomae
511; The Acts of Thomas: the legendary accounts of the deeds of the apostle Judas Thomas (probably the Judas Didymos Thomas of the Gospel of Thomas), telling of Thomas' missionary journeys east to Parthia and eventually to India. In these adventuresome tales, Thomas preaches the values of asceticism and gnosis as the path to salvation. Its "heretical" status seems to come mainly from the gnosticism it propounds; it's known to have been used by certain Manichean sects; TEXT

563; Elephant's meridians

Adam & Eve


350; Author of the Fables.

307; A supposed medium through which light was said to be transmitted through space; its existence was disproved by Mitchelson and Morley in 1887.

153; Dutch settler of South Africa

Age of Reason
22; aka the 18th century, a period of enlightenment when philosophy was all the rage in Europe; 27; 134; 135; 164; 359; 438; 769

Agents of Altitude

Alarum Ridge

Tales, 594

457; "sauc'd with the lees of some ale-jack and the Pipe-ash therein": lee is the swill at the bottom of a bottle, or in this case, jack; jack (archaic) is a liquor container made of waxed leather, sometimes coated with tar; pipe ash would be the sediment at the bottom of a "pipe" or cask of liquor.

169; 251

249; "fight like"; 551

Alexandria, Library at


310; Latitude star, called the Demon or Ghoul Star. Its magnitude varies over a period of 2.87 days, due to it being an eclipsing binary system, i.e., the cooler star eclipses the hotter brighter companion; 770

468; The brightest star in Ursa Major; Flamsteed was first to list it; 655

Allègre, Armand
366; [punning name - 'An arm and a leg' is British slang for the cost of something very expensive]; "volatile Chef de Cuisine; and the Mechanickal Duck, 371

Allegheny Ridge-Line

Allen, Mr. 266; Writer David Dark speculates that Pynchon may well be referring to Ethan Allen (1738-1789), the folk-hero of Vermont, a flamboyant farmer-turned-statesman from Connecticutt who led the Green Mountain Boys, a citizen's militia formed to protect the interests of the farmers and citizens of Vermont from dominance and taxation by New York. He went on the fight in the Revolutionary War and a guiding spirit in the taking of Fort Ticonderoga, the first Crown property to fall to America.

All-Nations Coffee-House
299; in Philadelphia

Alphonso, Sinister
439; a nonce-stereotype of an Italian Jesuit.

Altitude of Shaula
71; a star, Scorpii (Shaula); 72

399; a "Milk-Maid of Brooklyn" whom Mason meets; runs off with "Italian Waggon-smith" 564; Etymological Musings

bugs, 293; 294; 345; 346; "all boundaries shall be eras'd" 406; 448; kept hidden, 487; Golem, 490; 511; 522; "little but faith" 543; "Americans All" 571; love of complexity, 586; "first Act of American murder" 634; 685; 693; 754; New York is American Sodom, 770

86; 140

Anacreon In Heaven
See To Anacreon In Heaven

729; "Swab who holds the"; An anchor-pool is a betting pool, the winner having the closest guess of the precise time logged by the Officer of the Deck for dropping or weighing the anchor.




204; Latin: plural of animalculum, dim of animal = a small, tiny, or microscopic animal

Animism & Speaking Creatures
Learnéd English Dog, 18; St. Helena, 182; 189; bread, 204; shoes, 239; fog, 243; 292; Dixon's watch, 321 the guy who really swallowed Dixon's clock!; Duck, 372; 448; Golem, 485; Web of Communication, a "single great branch'd Creature" 567; dogs, 644; Beet, 657; talking crocodile, 573; 624; Topiary Elephant, 722; Stars, 731

Anne, Queen (1665-1714)
189; daughter of James II, and queen of England and Ireland from 1702

Anson, Baron George (1697-1762)
32; First Lord of Admiralty 1751-56 and 1757-62

Anthony & Cleopatra

496; Creek near which the famous Civil War battle took place (aka Battle of Sharpsburg) runs south from the line about 10 miles west of the Blue Ridge Summit near Waynesboro. (ad) The Battle of Antietam was extremely bloody, and inconclusive. It won Gen. Joseph Hooker his nickname "Fighting Joe." Camp followers of Hooker's Massachusetts division were called "Hooker's girls," or simply "hookers."

Anti-Etesian Wind
129: Etesian means periodical, from the Greek "etesios" meaning annual; so in this case unseasonable.

196: from Latin "antimonium": chemical symbol (Sb) from Latin "stibium"; Recognised by ancients in compounds, known as a metal by about the beginning of the 17th c.; apparently very brittle with flaky, crystalline texture and metallic luster


Arabian Gardens
426; at Lepton Castle; 430


Arcs &c.
297; 337; 335; 413; 425; 529; 578; 581; 639

Aristarchus of Samos (fl.270 BC)
17; Alexandrian astronomer who anticipated Copernicus, maintaining that the Earth moves around the sun

559; "On Comedy" is a famous lost work of Aristotle's.</p>

Arne, Thomas Augustine (1710-72)

292; prolific composer whose most well known work is probably "Rule, Britannia!" but, now, Love in a Cottage

568; "ecclesiastickal-looking Personage" in Montague's in New York

236: O.E.D.: The sessions held periodically in each county of England for the purpose of administering civil and criminal justice by judges acting under certain special commissions.

Asymmetrick Principle
142: a pompous way of saying that some things are easier than others.

98-99; 102; 107; 136-39; 144; 180; 221; 269; 315; 321; Chinese, 486, 707; 494-95; 544; "Taurean stubborness" 560; Aries, 608; "an extra sign of the Zodiack" 630; Leo, 726; Zodiackal Glyph, 731; 765; "Taurean persistence" 768; 770

Atlantick Company
713; imagined Atlantick Line's Proprietor

Attila (c.406-453)
488; King of the Huns, aka "the scourge of God," and the most successful of the barbarian invaders of the Roman Empire. From 434 he extorted tribute from the Eastern and Western Roman emperors. In 450 Marcian of the East and Valentinian III of the West refused to pay. Valentinian's sister Honoria proposed an alliance with Attila, who took this as a marriage offer and demanded half the Western empire as dowry. Refused, he attacked Gaul but was defeated (451) by the Romans. He invaded (452) Italy but spared Rome, apparently because of a shortage of supplies and an outbreak of pestilence in his army. Although feared for his savagery, he was a just ruler.

Aurora Borealis
726: Latin; The Northern Lights.

65; Vrooms' slave-girl; 150; at Lepton Castle? 419, 427, 431; as Widow of Christ, 427

Duck, 372-80; 535; "Frederick's rank'd" 659; Oboe player, 669; mechanickal cuckoo, 727; Website on Gallery of Automata

595; "Serpent-mound which is at Avebury"; Neolithic (New Stone Age) structure there consists of a circular bank of chalk 1,400 feet (425 m) in diameter and 20 feet (6 m) high, faced by chalk blocks quarried from a 30-foot- (9-metre-) deep ditch within. Within the bank, a circle of more than 100 sandstone (sarsen) pillars, up to 50 tons in weight, surrounds two smaller adjoining stone circles, each consisting of about 30 uprights and each approximately 350 feet (105 m) in diameter, and part of a third smaller circle. At the centre of the southern small circle stood a tall stone surrounded by smaller boulders. The middle smaller circle contained a central U-shaped stone structure. Part of a northern circle, apparently demolished to make way for the main ditch and bank, has also been found. The Ring Stone, a huge stone perforated by a natural hole, stood within the earthworks and main stone circle at the southern entrance.

352; the favorite wife of Mohammed. From the 20th century onwards, a common point of contention has been Muhammad's marriage to Aisha, who was six or seven when betrothed to Muhammad, and nine or ten, when the marriage was consummated. Critics such as Baptist pastor Jerry Vines and Netherlands Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders have cited the age of Aisha to denounce Muhammad for having had sex with a 9 year old, referring to Muhammad as a pedophile.

544; Webster's: "an arc of the horizon measured between a fixed point (as true north) and the vertical circle passing through the center of an object usu. in astronomy and navigation clockwise from the north point through 360 degrees"

Mason & Dixon Alpha Guide
Personal tools