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xml:lang="en" lang="en" dir="ltr"> Chapter 18: 183-189 - Thomas Pynchon Wiki | Mason & Dixon

Chapter 18: 183-189

Page 183

Ploughman's Lunch
A ploughman's lunch is a cold snack or meal, comprising at a minimum a thick piece of cheese (usually Cheddar, Stilton, or other local cheese), pickle (often Branston Pickle, sometimes piccalilli and/or pickled onions), crusty bap or chunk of bread, and butter. It is often accompanied by a green salad; other common additions are half an apple, celery, pâté, sliced hard-cooked egg or beetroot. It is a common menu item in English pubs, often shortened when ordering to "a ploughman's".

Designed to sound traditional, the term was invented in the 1960's as part of a campaign to encourage people to eat in pubs, so Pynchon's use of it here is an anachronism.

The Jolly Pitman A pitman is a miner. Unlikely profession in which to be jolly in the 18th (or any other) century. See this description, which we can't prove TP cribbed the term from. See also photo of a 1909 pitman here. Difficult to be jolly and disfigured, one imagines.

Staindrop
Staindrop is an attractive village near Raby Castle, former stronghold of the Nevills, and has always been associated with the Lords of Raby. See WIKI

devoirs
expressions of respect: expressions or acts of courtesy and respect. It is French for 'duty', and as a verb it means must. It also denotes school homework.

Rockingham Whigs
After a decade of factional chaos,.., a new system emerged, with two separate opposition groups. The Rockingham Whigs claimed the mantle of "Old Whigs," as the purported successors of the party of the Pelhams and the great Whig families. With such noted intellectuals as Edmund Burke behind them, the Rockingham Whigs laid out a philosophy which for the first time extolled the virtues of faction, or at least their faction. Wikipedia

Cock Lane Ghost
The story of the Cock Lane ghost attracted mass public attention in eighteenth-century England. Cock Lane is a short alleyway adjacent to London's Smithfield market and only a few minutes' walk from St Paul's Cathedral. The tall buildings and narrowness of this road give it a dark, foreboding presence and help to retain a sense of its origins as a medieval red-light district. In the eighteenth century this district housed London's working poor. It was this environment that, in January 1762, gave rise to an extraordinary scandal that engulfed all London. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cock_Lane_Ghost

From the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica:

"COCK LANE GHOST, a supposed apparition, the vagaries of which attracted extraordinary public attention in London during 1762. At a house in Cock Lane, Smithfield, tenanted by one Parsons, knockings and other noises were said to occur at night varied by the appearance of a luminous figure, alleged to be the ghost of a Mrs Kent who had died in the house some two years before. A thorough investigation revealed that Parsons' daughter, a child of eleven, was the source of the disturbance. The object of the Parsons family seems to have been to accuse the husband of the deceased woman of murdering her, with a view to blackmail. Parsons was prosecuted and condemned to the pillory. Among the crowds who visited the house was Dr Johnson, who was in consequence made the object of a scurrilous attack by the poet Charles Churchill in " The Ghost." See A. Lang, Cock Lane and Common Sense (1894)"

Page 184

Mrs. Woffington
Margaret Woffington (c. 1720-1760) was a well-known Irish actress in Georgian London. See WIKI.

[David] Garrick
David Garrick (c. 1717-1779), a British actor; Garrick and Woffington were amorously linked and lived together from 1742-45. Apparently Woffington never married and the "Mrs." was more along the lines of an honorary title. Although Garrick married in 1749 and remained so until his death there seems some evidence that he retained an attachment to Woffington (e.g. he wore the shoe buckles she gave him until his death). He was also author of the play, Florizel and Perdita, "A Dramatic Pastoral, in Three Acts."; Garrick was also a pupil of Dr. Samuel Johnson and a member of his literary club, along with James Boswell and others. See WIKI.

bum-boat
bumboat ( ) n. A small boat used to peddle provisions to ships anchored offshore. [Probably partial translation of Low German bumboot , ship's boat]. cf Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, where Buttercup is described as a "Portsmouth bumboat woman".

Page 185

Parlor-Game

A parlour game is a group game played indoors. During the Victorian era in Great Britain and in the USA, these games were extremely popular among the upper and middle classes. They were often played in a parlour, hence the name.

There are a variety of historic Parlour Games and Pynchon here seems to be defining this one in the subsequent lines. But one old possibly relevant version for M & D was called Consequences: Consequences is an old parlour game similar to the surrealist game exquisite corpse or Mad Libs.

Each person takes a turn choosing a word for one of six questions, in this order.

Man's name
Woman's name
Place name
A comment
Another comment
An outcome

Then the story is read: #1 met #2 at #3, and he said #4, she said #5, and the consequence was #6. In some versions of the game the man gets to reply to the woman, thus the consequence moves to #7. Another version includes 'the world said' at #7, which is meant to represent the response of the public to the consequence.

Pope Joan
Pope Joan is the name of a female pope who supposedly reigned for less than two years in the 850s,[1] based on a legend that circulated in the Middle Ages.[citation needed] Pope Joan is regarded by most modern historians and religion scholars as fictitious, possibly originating as an anti-papal satire, but her existence is still debated. Wikipedia

Encyclopedia Britannica 1911: "POPE-JOAN, a round game of cards, named after a legendary female Pope of the 9th century. An ordinary pack is used, from which the eight of diamonds has been removed, and a special round board in the form of eight compartments, named respectively Pope-Joan, Matrimony, Intrigue, Ace, King, Queen, Knave and Game (King, Queen and Knave are sometimes omitted)."

Probably unrelated, but Nabokov has a novel called King, Queen, Knave.

Piquet
Piquet is a card game for two players, using a shortened pack of 32 cards which omits 2 to 6 in each suit. In ascending order, the cards rank 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A (high). A number of French terms are traditionally used for various features of the game. Wikipedia entry

four-door Farces?

"four-door farce" also occurs in Against the Day, p.567. One of the recurring physical jokes in such plays involves sets with many doors and people coming in and out, just missing each other. A French writer, George Feydeau, was famous for writing them at the time of ATD, which makes the possible pun on his last name — Feydeau, four-door — anachronous in M & D but still resonant, perhaps. See a modern example, Peter Bogdanovich's movie What's Up Doc?.

Some of us are Outlaws, and some Trespassers upon the very world
Pynchonian thematic....of course, Trespassers are part of the plot of Against The Day.

Page 186

"My marriageable years had ebb'd away... never knew the moment I was beach'd upon the Fearful Isle where no Flower grows"
Rebekah's choice of metaphor here, while telling young Miss Bradley about when she met Mason, seems a lot like St. Helena, eh? Much like the area her ghost will first physically reveal itself to Mason.

Morning Tussah
tus·sah (tŭs'ə, tŭs'ô') also tus·sore (tŭs'ôr', -ōr') n. An Asian silkworm, the larva of a large saturniid moth (Antheraea paphia), that produces a coarse brownish or yellowish silk. The silk produced by this worm or a fabric woven from it. [Hindi tasar, from Sanskrit tasaram, shuttle (probably from the shape of its cocoon).]

Page 187

buzz-men
slang for pickpockets

Prie-Dieux
custom-built Church kneelers

quotinoctian
occurring every night

Page 188

perihelion
Point nearest the sun.

Dr. Hooke
Robert Hooke, FRS (18 July 1635 – 3 March 1703) was an English natural philosopher, architect and polymath who played an important role in the scientific revolution, through both experimental and theoretical work. See WIKI

Annotation Index

One:
Latitudes and Departures

1: 5-11, 2: 12-13, 3: 14-29, 4: 30-41, 5: 42-46, 6: 47-57, 7: 58-76, 8: 77-86, 9: 87-93, 10: 94-104, 11: 105-115, 12: 116-124, 13: 125-145, 14: 146-157, 15: 158-166, 16: 167-174, 17: 175-182, 18: 183-189, 19: 190-198, 20: 199-206, 21: 207-214, 22: 215-227, 23: 228-237, 24: 238-245, 25: 245-253


Two:
America

26: 257-265, 27: 266-274, 28: 275-288, 29: 289-295, 30: 296-301, 31: 302-314, 32: 315-326, 33: 327-340, 34: 341-348, 35: 349-361, 36: 362-370, 37: 371-381, 38: 382-390, 39: 391-398, 40: 399-409, 41: 410-421, 42: 422-435, 43: 436-439, 44: 440-447, 45: 448-451, 46: 452-459, 47: 460-465, 48: 466-475, 49: 476-483, 50: 484-490, 51: 491-498, 52: 499-510, 53: 511-524, 54: 525-541, 55: 542-553, 56: 554-561, 57: 562-569, 58: 570-574, 59: 575-584, 60: 585-596, 61: 597-607, 62: 608-617, 63: 618-622, 64: 623-628, 65: 629-632, 66: 633-645, 67: 646-657, 68: 658-664, 69: 665-677, 70: 678-686, 71: 687-693, 72: 694-705, 73: 706-713

Three:
Last Transit

74: 717-732, 75: 733-743, 76: 744-748, 77: 749-757, 78: 758-773

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