From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Annotations for Hogfather

  • Although this is primarily a Death book, TP makes a heroic effort to get as many different characters into this "holiday special" book as possible: eg, the wizards and the Canting Crew (no witches though), as well as mentions of lands from several books (Omnia, Klatch, the Agatean Empire, etc).
  • The idea of a skeleton dressing in red, and giving presents during a winter holiday is also the main plot of Tim Burton's stop motion film, The Nightmare Before Christmas, in which the main character, Jack Skellington, the skeleton king of Halloween, becomes enthralled with Christmas, and decides to dress up as Santa Claus, or "Sandy Claws" as he is mistakenly called. Jack flies around the world, giving children his idea of Christmas presents, which being from the land of Halloween, are terrifying and dangerous.
  • Visit's attitude to Hogswatch, as expressed to an uncomprehending Nobby Nobbs, places the Omnian faith very firmly in the same camp as Roundworld's Jehovah's Witnesses. The Witnesses are a Christian sect who very firmly believe that Christmas is irrelevant to Christianity and is, in fact, a pagan festival which has been slipped in by Satan to mislead and taint the Faithful and which no true believer should even think of celebrating. Similarly, the Omnians ignore Hogswatch from a similar position of supposed theological superiority.
  • "I spent hours with my nose pressed up against the window... until they heard me callin', and unfroze me.", possible reference to a similar scene in A Christmas Story, where the main character gets his tongue frozen to a flagpole.
  • "Assault and battery included." - parodies the Roundworld phrases "assault and battery" and "batteries not included". Given the state of electrical technology on the disk, do they really have batteries? Given that the oldest ever battery thus far discovered on Roundworld is dated in the first few centuries AD (the discovery was apparently poorly documented at the time and dating has been done on the style of pottery involved, so is a little vague), it's entirely possible that crude electrochemical cells may well exist on the Discworld. Whether they'd refer to them as "batteries" is another matter. Then again, in an assault you might find a battery of crossbows.
  • "Come along, Mr Wizard." - possible reference to Don Herbert, popularly known as "Mr. Wizard". He was an American television personality and hosted two television shows about science aimed at children.
  • "+++ Why Do You Think You Are A Tickler? +++" - Hex's answers are reminiscent of ELIZA, a 1966 computer program designed to parody a psychiatrist.
  • "Hex's 'Anthill Inside' sticker" - parody of Intel's "Intel Inside" advertising campaign.
  • "'It's, er, beehives.' [...] It's actually amazing how much information you can store on one honeycomb." - assuming Granny Weatherwax's theory is correct (that all bees are part of a larger Swarm), Hex may've tapped into a very large and powerful source of information.
  • "Mousse de la Boue dans une Panier de la Pate de Chaussures [...] It's not our fault if even Quirmians don't understand restaurant Quirmian [...] Brodequin roti Facon Ombres [...] Languette braisse [...] Sole d'une Bonne Femme [...] Servis dans un Coulis de Terre en I'Eau [...] Cafe de Terre" - Quirmian appears to be the Discworld equivalent of French.
  • The events of this book take place between Interesting Times and The Last Continent, meaning that Rincewind is just starting his survival course on XXXX. Oddly, the Librarian doesn't ask Death/the Hogfather for Rincewind's safe return (it's less surprising that no one else remembers Rincewind -- in The Last Continent, Ridcully repeatedly has to be reminded that Rincewind is a person, not a type of cheese).
  • The square root of 27.4 is very nearly 5.2345
  • "EQUALS 17,857 TONS." - one of the frequent 57 references in TP's work
  • Non Timetus Messor - the family motto of the extended Death clan. On p375, (Corgi paperback edition), Susan and Jonathan Teatime have an intense discussion as to the good taste or otherwise of such a family motto.
  • "This is very similar to the suggestion put forward by the Quirmian philosopher Ventre, who said, "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?" When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said, "We're going to show you what we think of Mr Clever Dick in these parts..." " -- This is a send-up of Pascal's wager, named after the Quirmian, I mean French, mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal.
  • Wistful Lying seems to be a play on words. Normally wouldn't be worth noting but the usual phrase is "Wishful thinking," where "wishful" is saying something about the future, while "wist" is properly the past participle of "wit," & fits well with the theme of understanding the past to bring it into the present.

Roundworld References

Direct references to Roundworld:

  • Old Faithful, a geyser
  • The Copacabana, a New York nightclub, also mentioned in the Barry Manilow song of the same name
  • Valium, brand name for diazepam, a drug used to treat anxiety
  • The anthropic principle
  • Non Timetus Messor - the family motto of the extended Death clan. This is, of course, the titler of the best-known song by Gothic rockers and thinking man's heavy rock band the Blue Öyster Cult, Don't Fear The Reaper. An extended scene between Susan and an (unseen) Death on page 19 appears to act out the last verse of the song, albeit with a twist at the end - she is not especially inclined to run to Him, nor to take His hand and fly away...

(Page references are to the Corgi paperback edition, pp14-19)

The door burst open and a wind appeared;

"The candle flame was streaming out horizontally, as though in a howling wind" (p15)

The candle blew and then disappeared;

"She looked up. The curtains billowed away from the window, which-

-flung itself open with a clatter. But there was no wind. At least, no wind in this world."

The curtains flew, and then He appeared.... saying "Don't be afraid"

But Susan is bloody annoyed rather than afraid, and she certainly doesn't run to him, nor take his hand...

"Oh no, not AGAIN. not after all this time, Everything had been going so well-"

What deters Death from manifesting and completing the verse is the inopportune appearance of Susan's charge Twyla, who wants her to get rid of a monster. It is clear from the context of the above that Death is in the vicinity and wants to see his grand-daughter. Perhaps this is a professional call to collect the soul, or nearest equivalent, from the spider-like monster which Susan then despatches with a poker, just to prove a point to Twyla... Death must then have thought better of manifesting to an angry grand-daughter with attitude and a poker. But the above is almost exactly as per the song...

Susan returns to bed, bitterly thinking "So they were coming back", and tries to ignore the long thread of wax that suggested the candle had, for just a few seconds, streamed in an otherwise non-existent wind, as mandated by Narrative Causality...

Tacticus is clearly Tactics+Tacitus, but I can't get rid of the idea it's also an oblique reference to the military leader Caratacus, famously called Caractacus in the Major-General's Song.

p.99 The wren song sounds a lot like "Please to See the King" a carol in which carolers dress a wren in finery & carry it from house to house asking for alms for the king (the wren).

Hogfather Annotations - The Annotated Pratchett File