The Sorcerer's House -- Cross References

This is a page for cross references to other works of art and literature in The Sorcerer's House.

  • The description of Mutazz is a quote from The Amir's Homily by Kipling.
  • "Like that poor girl in the Arabian Nights, she hopes to keep talking until you fall asleep." (p. 12) refers to Scheherazade, who told stories to her husband to prevent being executed. This mocking of George's abilities as a lover shows how much Bax really hates him.
  • "A&I Properties" with a Mr. Isaacs (p. 19) may refer to Abraham and Isaac, a famous Biblical father and son. The 'A' may also stand for Ambrosius, making Mr. Isaacs, the surviving partner, be Goldwurm. Goldwurm is a well-known Jewish surname.
  • Thucydides was a Greek historian who wrote History of the Peloponnesian War. It does include the Spartans besieging Oenoe. See Thucydides 2.18.1.
  • Nicholas the Butler's stealing laundry from clotheslines may be a reference to the Wolfe story The Monday Man.
  • The ring found in the fish may be a reference to King Solomon's ring. The ring-gem eventually becomes a star sapphire. Most asterisms are six-pointed stars. The Ring of Solomon was inscribed with a Star of David, a six-pointed star, and supposedly used to control spirits. One legend about the ring is that a demon stole it, taking Solomon's place for a time and making him a pauper. Then the demon discarded the ring in the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish. The fish was caught and given to Solomon. Once he had the ring back he regained his memory and his kingdom.
  • Bax describes the ring as like a fairy tail of a boy who found a ring inside a fish belly. There are actually a lot of fairy tales that fit this story. Typically the story features a lowly boy who finds wealth from within a fish, and marries a woman who is of a much higher class than himself. The actions taken by a third character to prevent this marriage from taking place are usually what causes the marriage to take place. Consider the fact that Bax is relatively poor, George is relatively well off, and Bax wants to marry Milly. Perhaps George's actions are what allowed Bax's plan to work. In at least one of the tales the princess changes a letter that would have gotten the poor boy killed in order to marry him. Could this hint at Milly being the compiler?
  • Quilp, to whom Bax compares Quorn in letter 31, is a character from Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop.

Meaning of names

  • Baxter means "baker." Dunn is, he says (p. 20), from the town of Dunmore, Scotland (nothing really famous there except a house with unusual architecture that looks like it has a giant pineapple on top). Dun is a color, a dull grayish-brown (in contrast to Black). This is underscored by Mrs. Murrey with a lame pun ("I had it done... I could have had it dun.") She seems to like lame puns.
  • George means "earth worker." In fiction, George is often the name of a loser.
  • Doris means "gift" in Greek. In Greek mythology, Doris was the wife of the sea-god Nereus, and mother of the fifty Nereides.
  • Her last name, Griffin, is a mythological beast with the body of a lion and wings of an eagle. Griffins are alluded to in Slow Children at Play and The Arimaspian Legacy.
  • Her husband was Ted, short for Theodore. This means "gift of God." Is he an extension of herself, possibly a familiar of some kind? Is the ring a magical gift to Bax, or allow Ted to come to his aid in times of danger? He says if he had pawned it he might have died.
  • The old neighbor, Mrs. Naber, is probably an example of "I have changed names to protect innocent persons" (p. 300).
  • Winkle is named for a cat whose kittens George killed (p. 41). It can be a verb meaning to force or pry something out of its place, like a periwinkle from its shell.
  • Mutazz is likely a reference to Abdallah ibn al-Mu'tazz. Bax describes him as "quite definitely (indeed definitively) of the poisoning or strangling type. The real life Mutazz was indeed strangled. He was a famous Arabic literary critic who predicted his own death, which explains Bax's knowledge of him.

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