Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

by Kyril Bonfiglioli

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Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:35 pm

Allusion runs under the plot line of this book. Tidbit #2 outlined a few that we unearthed. Did you find others? We know they are there. :grin: Feel free to contribute any other allusions you uncovered, even if what you've dragged out is a bit of this and a bit of that.

Finally, do you believe Bonfiglioli had a purpose in mind in his choice of alluisons? Was he trying to say something? Is there a theme or themes?
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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:18 am

:dunce: I am afraid that is way over my head!

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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby fireflydances » Wed Mar 04, 2015 10:56 pm

I'm sorry about that. I think the concept may sound more complicated than the practice. It's just following your curiosity. For example, there I was reading along and Dryden is telling Charlie that the Warden has decided that Charlie will head this investigation into what happened to Bronwen. I am stopped suddenly. What Charlie says in response sounds odd (pg 38):

...."often for his soul was pure?"

"No, I was about to say "as the strength of Miss Meadow's bed cord"

"Ah yes, which in dem day would a hilt a mule."


Someone is clearly referencing (or quoting) something. Hmmmmmm. Google to the rescue. I google the phrase "often for his soul was pure." Up comes Psalm 24:4 and Sir Galahad by Tennyson. In neither case is the quote present exactly. Tennyson gives me "my strength was the strength of ten, because my heart was pure." I decide to lean towards Tennyson, knowing Bonfiglioli's literary tendencies.

I put in the second "as the strength of Miss Meadow's bed cord.." And I get back Mr. Terrapin Shows His Strength. Uncle Remus, sure I think, that's where the "dem day" is coming from too (I had a father who loved to read to me and Uncle Remus's stories were way up there.) But what's this doing in an English book? I mean, Uncle Remus is old, old African American storytelling.

Further down the Search Page I find something that might work. The United Idolators by Rudyard Kipling. Really? What's that about? The googler digs in her heels and pursues the lead.

I could go on at greater length. But the upshot of the deal is that Kipling had fallen in love with Harris's Uncle Remus writing and had even conducted a correspondence with him. Interesting. And the connection to Dryden's and Charlie's conversation?

Here is the upshot:

Now, I think of this stuff as sort of an alternate form of crosswording, which I am terrible at. It's puzzling out to the finest degree possible. Searching down stuff and then trying to suss out exactly why the writer put it there in the first place. Sometimes one figures this out. Sometimes the last task remains unresolved. But it's always fun.
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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby SnoopyDances » Wed Mar 04, 2015 11:20 pm

:hypnotic: I'm with Nebraska on this one.
I had enough trouble just figuring out what Charlie was talking about, let alone find a hidden meaning. :lol:

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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby moviemom » Thu Mar 05, 2015 10:44 am

SnoopyDances wrote::hypnotic: I'm with Nebraska on this one.
I had enough trouble just figuring out what Charlie was talking about, let alone find a hidden meaning. :lol:


I'm with snoopy and nebraska, too. Most of the time, I tried to infer the meaning of what he was having Charlie say "in context". Sometimes even that idea fell flat. :spin:

That said, I still enjoyed the book.
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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby Liz » Fri Mar 06, 2015 11:36 pm

:-O

Bon was just way over our head, methinks.

But I have to add that I know another mystery writer who uses similar techniques in his writing.....Daniel Depp. The difference is that his allusions are more contemporary and more about the Hollywood world, that all of us might be more familiar with.
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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby stroch » Sat Mar 07, 2015 8:58 am

Searching out allusions or underlying themes can be fun, but it depends on the circumstances. I know that when I took my daughter to see the Lion King, I wouldn't have gained much from consciously trying to find all of the parallels to Hamlet! If stymied, I usually will look up references from Dorothy Sayer's books, or P.D. James, because they further the plot. Wodehouse's are more stylistic, used for comic effect, and they are familiar. K.B. tosses them about with abandon, and those I didn't get, I just skipped. :blush:

I always do Google historical references, and and especially love Google maps street view as a "reader's aid." But that's off-topic, sorry.
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Re: Mortdecai Question #9: What Runs Underneath?

Unread postby fireflydances » Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:46 pm

stroch wrote:Searching out allusions or underlying themes can be fun, but it depends on the circumstances. I know that when I took my daughter to see the Lion King, I wouldn't have gained much from consciously trying to find all of the parallels to Hamlet! If stymied, I usually will look up references from Dorothy Sayer's books, or P.D. James, because they further the plot. Wodehouse's are more stylistic, used for comic effect, and they are familiar. K.B. tosses them about with abandon, and those I didn't get, I just skipped. :blush:

I always do Google historical references, and and especially love Google maps street view as a "reader's aid." But that's off-topic, sorry.


I wholeheartedly agree. Can't imagine doing the allusions thing in the midst of a performance, that's for sure! And I also think these little bits of hidden stuff are the most fun when nothing particularly earth-shattering is at stake. Mortdecia is all about fun, on all levels. We ain't talking Joyce here!

Like I said earlier, it's a game for those who like hunting things out: buried perfect shells or buried allusions to authors you only slightly recall reading in school.

Beyond that, I was hoping that having tugged a bunch of stuff onto the narrative beach, there would be others willing to pitch their ideas as to what old "Bon" was doing. My guess would be that, as an old English major, he took great fun in making our eyes pop over something vaguely remembered from our academic reading, and making us trot over to Google and pursuing a clearer understanding of his "funny." It's word games for the sake of gaming, not ultimate meaning.
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies


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