Sunday, 14 April 2013

Literary Allusions

In Midsummer Century (London, 1975), James Blish makes several literary references.

"...that merciless story that Ambrose Bierce had written about an incident at Owl Creek Bridge." (p. 17)

"...the verses of Goethe about the misanthrope which Brahms had set in the Alto Rhapsody: 'The grasses rise behind him; the waste receives him.' " (p. 54)

"Memories of Macbeth and Edgar Allan Poe..." (p. 56)

"A line from James Thomson's The City Of Dreadful Night came back to Martels: 'No hope can have no fear.'" (p. 56)

"...Martels' imposed Drang nach Sueden..." (p. 62)

"...a vague memory of Poe's Arthur Gordon Pym..." (p. 69)

"Had great gull-like Birds flown toward him out of the mist crying Tekeli-li, he could not have been more sure..." (p. 70)

"...that territory which Poe had described toward the unfinished end of Pym." (p. 80)

I have thought of two further comparisons. Martels recalls both the Time Traveller and Fred Hoyle. Like the latter, he is a British astrophysicist with a working class accent. At one point, he explains:

"...the 'steady state' theory of Fred Hoyle." (p. 22)

Hoyle also wrote science fiction, including October The First Is Too Late, which, like the companion volume to Midsummer Century, The Quincunx Of Time, is a haunting novel of time though not of time travel.

Reading Midsummer Century made me think of Wells and Hoyle though not of Poe until Martels made that comparison.

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