The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana Chapter 13

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Page 272

I had not relived my own childhood so much as that of a generation
Eco has stated in multiple that he sees Queen Loana as a biography of his generation in Italy.

Page 275

photo of Yambo and Ada
Eco confirmed in a radio interview with Diana Rehm that this photo is, in fact, Eco and his sister.

Millet's Angelus
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Hayez's The Kiss
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pre-Raphaelite Ophelia
this one is by John Everett Millais:

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a dish served cold like revenge
European proverb that seems to have been first set down in Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de LaClos: "La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid." It was also cited in the beginning of Quentin Tarantino's film, Kill Bill, as an "ancient Klingon proverb."

Domenico Savio... Don Bosco
St. Giovanni Bosco (1815-88), founder of the Salesian Society, which operated a kind of Boys' Club and series of boys' schools, of which the Oratory described in ch. 16 would be an example. See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02689d.htm His pupil Domenico Savio died at the age of 15 in the 1850s and, though he was not canonized, was informally considered a saint and ideal for pious boys. In chapter 56 of Foucault's Pendulum, Jacopo Belbo remembers receiving a prize in a game at the Oratorio:

a little holy card of Blessed Domenico Savio, that adolescent with the wrinkled canvas pants, always hanging on to Don Bosco in the statues, his eyes raised to heaven, notlistening to the other boys, who are telling dirty jokes. (Trans. Weaver)

Page 276

silence regarding homosexuality
Apparently gay historians in Italy have made an effort to claim Don Bosco as a (probably heavily sublimated) homosexual: http://www.culturagay.it/cg/bio.php?id==5.

Page 278

hell
for another Eco description of hell, see Island of the Day Before, 452. more

mists of Tartarus
mist, again, a central theme in Loana. In classical mythology, Tartarus is the region of the netherworld even lower than Hades. Wikipedia. This exact turn of phrase, "mists of Tartarus," appears in the novel, Jurgen, by James Branch Cabell, but is probably coincidental.

Page 279

everyone writes poems when they are sixteen ... I do not remember where I read... there are two kinds of poets ... But at least ... I had sealed away these abortions
Again, Eco is referencing his own earlier novel, Foucault's Pendulum, Ch. 118:

Everyone has written poems in adolescence; true poets destroy them, bad poets publish them. Belbo, too cynical to save them, too weak to chuck them out, stuck them in Uncle Carlo's cupboard. (Trans. Weaver)

Run guns in Africa
refers to Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91), the great French poet who stopped writing poetry at the age of 21.and began a life of adventurous travel, including running guns in Africa when he was in his early 30s.

Page 280

the Futurists, who wanted to kill off moonlight
Futurism was an art movement, originating in Italy, in the early part of the 20th century; an early manifesto by Tommaso Marinetti was called "Uccidiamo la chiara di luna," "Let's kill off the moonlight." See Wikipedia article.

Chopin
fell in love with Constantia Gladowska in his late teens but was not favored by her. He died young, 30 years later.

Page 282

Angel of the Sixth Trumpet
in Revelations book 9 the sixth angel sounds a trumpet, unleashing a horrible army which kills a third of mankind. In the final chapter, Yambo's vision leading to the revelation of the face of the girl in the yellow jacket is heavy with Revelations imagery. This reference, in a context which strongly recalls Belbo's cabinet of juvenilia in Foucault's Pendulum, also evokes that character's sense that the trumpet is an ideal, sexy, and revelatory instrument.

Page 284

balcony ladies of Manet
an extremely famous painting of two dark-haired women. Of course all Renoir's women were pale--he loved painting a creamy skin.

the white parasol in the landau ... the last cattleya ... Bergotte's last breath ... Odette de Crecy
Yambo has been reading the first volume of Proust. Odette is a demimondaine on whom Swann becomes fixated in Swann in Love; he marries her and loses respectability among bourgeois friends like the narrator's parents. Her and Swann's first sexual encounter is in a carriage, where he pretends to admire her cattleya orchid while groping her, so that "doing cattleya" becomes their private term for having sex. Bergotte is another character in Swann's Way, an older author and poet.

Talino, Gino, Ras, Lupetto, Sciabola / may you come down together some spring day / singing the wind is whistling
The partisan Talino is mentioned on page 360, and Gino (who will not return since he was shot) on 363 In chapter 119 of Foucault's Pendulum, we hear quite a bit about the partisan leader Ras.

Page 287

Alors, moi, j'aime qui? ...
Cyrano de Bergerac. "And me, who do I love? ... the most beautiful one there is!"

Lila Saba
The Queen of Sheba, who visits Solomon in admiration of his wisdom, and becomes his consort, is in Italian the Regina di Saba. We learn on p. 294 that her first name is short of "Sibilla," the name of Yambo's current business associate, another name that evokes feminine wisdom since the Sibyls were the prophetesses of the ancient world. Sibilla Saba, Sybil Sheba, points to the figure of Sophia which is presented more explicitly in Foucault's Pendulum, the feminine Wisdom which created, loves, and is the soul of the material world according to certain Gnostic texts (alas, this is also why the heroine of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code is named Sophie). See Foucault's Pendulum, ch. 50. Belbo, with his Marylena-Cecelia-Lorenza Pellegrini fantasy woman, and his desire to see women in trinities (FP ch. 8), would certainly appreciate Yambo's visions of three beloved women or of the beloved as triple.

the girls our age, sixteen or so, were already women
Jacopo Belbo recalls that "a girl thirteen and a half is already a woman; a boy at thirteen is a snot-nosed kid (Foucault's Pendulum, ch. 56). Both men are describing the relationship between a boy who is still a child in some ways and a girl the same age who is "already a woman."

A Dante and Beatrice kind of thing .... La Vita Nuova
In Dante's prose and verse Vita Nuova (The New Life), he writes an intellectual and emotional autobiography that begins when he sees Beatrice, when they are both nine years old; a crucial event in this story is Beatrice's death, around the age of 25. The love Dante feels for her is all-consuming and inspiring but not ambitious for a sexual relationship (both of them married other people, events which are not significant in his intellectual and emotional biography). Eventually, of course, in the Commedia, Beatrice becomes Dante's guide in Heaven, his intercessor with the Virgin Mary, and his means of salvation, though between her death and the inception of the Commedia Dante claims to have flirted with Lady Philosophy in the hope of finding consolation with her.

Is it worth noting that, in Foucault's Pendulum chapter 35, Casaubaon's meeting with Lia is introduced with a quotation from the Commedia, a scene from canto 27 of the Purgatorio in which Dante meets a beautiful woman, Matilda, gathering flowers. She tells him she is Lia; she is to Beatrice as Leah was to Rachel in the story of Jacob in Genesis: the woman you can have as opposed to the woman you really wanted in the first place. She is beautiful and represents also the active life in the world, as opposed to the contemplative life turned towards eternity; Dante continues in her company until, a few cantos later, he meets Beatrice, his guide to that higher life. If one lays Eco's two books over each other, as is very tempting, one might put togther composites of three types of woman:

  • Lia-Paola, the sensible, loving, intelligent woman who bears children;
  • Cecilia-Lila, the idealized Beatrice of adolescence, beautiful, inspiring, but unattainable and now lost;
  • Lorenza Pellegrini-Sibilla, the flirtatious "allumeuse" Sophia (Wisdom/Philosophy) who reminds the man of the Beatrice figure but cannot replace her (and is dangerous to his health)..

clear cool sweet waters
the opening of Francesco Petrarch's Canzoniere 126, "Chiare, fresche, e dolce acque," online in the original and a translation by A. S. Kline. The poem describes seeing the beloved enjoying herself in a woodland spot; the poet says he would like to be buried in this place made Paradise by her presence, in the hope that she might return to the place someday.

Page 289

You organized the high school's big show
This whole incident recalls 13-year-old Jacopo Belbo's effort to communicate with his beloved Cecelia by playing the trumpet in the Oratorio band in Foucault's Pendulum, chapter 56.


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