Paratext

Speech by George Canning

October, 1997

[from a speech in parliament by George Canning, 16 March 1824]


[On the topic of the abolition of slavery:] . . . To attempt to shorten the road between desire and attainment is nine times out of ten to go astray, and to miss the wished-for object altogether. I am fully persuaded that freedom, when acquired under the regulations prescribed by government, will be a more delightful as well as a more safe and stable possession than if it were bestowed by a sudden acclamation.

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AIDS as Plague

October, 1997

AIDS as plague


As Susan Sontag points out, any plague is usually figured as a force coming from outside, as a dangerous foreign invader (in both immigration and military terms), as a contamination by the polluting Other. It is often, even when supposedly secularized, treated as a mysterious judgment on society.

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Note: St. Sophia

October, 1997

Santa Sophia


Hagia Sophia ("Holy Wisdom"), or St. Sophia, is one of the world's paradigms of Byzantine Architecture. It was first built as a Christian church for Emperor Justinian I; then--after the Turkish conquest of Constantinople in 1453--became an important mosque. The towering minarets (added by the Turks) and 184 ft. dome overlook the old city of Constantinople (now Istanbul).

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Note: San Marco

October, 1997

San Marco or Saint Mark's Church, in Venice, is named after the tutelary saint of the city. A church stood on the site as early as the 9th century, but the structure, including the famous tower, alluded to in the novel was developed from the 12th through the 14th centuries.

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Sonnets Cited in _The Last Man_

October, 1997

Sonnets cited


Never with dry eyes or with tranquil mind shall I look on those notes in which Love seems to sparkle and which Kindness seems to have made with his very hand.

Spirit once unvanquished by earthly mourning, you who now from Heaven pour down so much sweetness that you have brought back my wandering rhymes to the style from which Death separated them.

I thought to show you some other work of my young leaves; and what cruel planet was displeased to see us together, O my noble treasure?

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Note: sibylline pages

October, 1997

Mary Shelley's representation of her narrative as "Sibylline" connects it with numerous popular uses of the figure of the Sybil, including Samuel Coleridge's 1817 collection of poetry and the writing of Mme. de Staël; and it in turn may have contributed to the continuing popularity of things Sibylline, as witnessed in productions like the parody (perhaps directly parodic of The Last Man) by T. H.

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Note: "Sybillae" from Lempriere's _Classical Dictionary_

October, 1997

from Lempriere's Classical Dictionary (1788): "Sibyllae"


. . . The most celebrated of the Sibyls is that of Cumae in Italy, whom some have called by the different names of Amalthaea, Demophile, Herophile, Daphne, Marto, Phemonoe, and Deiphobe. It is said that Apollo became enamoured of her, and that to make her sensible of his passion, he offered to give her whatever she should ask.

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Note: Domenichino's Sibyl

October, 1997

See Madelyn Gutwirth (pp. 172-82; 239) for the importance of this famous painting to Staël, who actually had her own portrait painted as the Sibyl.

By the nineteenth-century, Sibyls were popular cultural icons, and the term had become a commonplace way to refer to an inspired or prophetic woman author.

Mary Shelley opens the frame narrative of The Last Man with the discovery of "Sibylline leaves."

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