Book:Reaper Man/Annotations

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General:- On revolutionaries and footwear:- one of the great leaders of the Mexican revolution was called Zapata[1] by his followers. Zapata is Spanish for "Shoe".

We get the English word sabotage from French civil disturbances and revolutions. The wooden clog worn by workers was called un sabot. Such a sturdy piece of wood could be used, in extremis, to terminally clog up and block industrial machinery if jammed firmly into the gears. Hence sabotage - or vandalism with footwear harnessed to a revolutionary cause. For all his endearing ineptitude, Reg Shoe has pretty much the same effect on the finely balanced ecosystem of the parasitical shopping mall as a wooden clog in the gears of a factory machine.

Reg, played by John Cleese, was of course the self-proclaimed leader of the People's Front of Judea, the haplessly inept revolutionary group in Monty Python's Life of Brian, who was far better at spouting jargon and quoting the revolutionary constitution than he was at taking any sort of action. (To those of us who attended British universities in the 1980's, this parallels far-left groups such as the Socialist Workers' Party and the Workers' Revolutionary Party, whose actions and public pronouncements could echo Reg and the PFJ right down to the letter.)

Also, Joseph Stalin's father and grandfather were cobblers. Uncle Joe could therefore have spent a few years apprenticed in the shoemaking trade prior to revolutionary adventures.

Renata Flitworth - such a patently bleedin' obvious one I never saw it till now... the Dickens character in Great Expectation who loses her love on the eve of the wedding, goes quietly mad, and spends the rest of her life in suspended animation wearing her wedding dress. Miss Haversham?

- [Corgi PB, p185] When Reg Shoe welcomes Windle Poons to the Fresh Start Club, he does it with protest song lyrics (at least they are on Roundworld)

The AOPF correctly identifies "Don't stand in the doorway, don't block up the hall..." (from For The Times They Are A-Changin', by Bob Dylan)

It should be pointed out that Reg Shoe's next line is also drawn from a protest song:-

"And fed up with being pushed around, eh?" ("And told just what to do..." from an appropriately titled song called "Children of the Grave", by Black Sabbath)

Arthur and Doreen Winkling - a Pratchett take on Gomez and Morticia Addams? In fact, the whole of the Fresh Start Club appears to be a parody of the main characters of The Addams Family and The Munsters. (A loose family who are thrown together by the FSC and feel they have to look out for each other? The Addamses are a close-knit American family, after all)

- (Corgi PB, p249) He set off along another likely-looking corridor, although most corridors he'd been down in the last one hundred and thirty years hadn't pulsated and dripped so much...

This evokes another memorable quest in fantasy fiction, the wizard/warlord Elric's journey through the Pulsating Cavern, in order to find the hellblade Stormbringer for the first time. Other commentators have remarked on the suspiciously Freudian nature of Elric's quest, to locate and make potent again a sword which has been swallowed up inside a womb-like space made of oddly organic material, and which pulsates damply and gently in a suffused pink light, the only way in (and out) being through a wet dripping cavern made of the same warm pulsating organic stuff... It is one hundred per cent probable that Poons HAS travelled through a similar corridor - once, and at the very other end of his long life... It is also possible that once again Michael Moorcock is on the receiving end of a spoofing. (Could you make it a little more obvious, Mike? We haven't quite understood the subtle metaphor you're using here!)

- [Corgi PB, p259] Ludmilla and Lupine (in the form of a dog) are going for long walks together. Ghost One-Man-Bucket is speaking to Windle Poons: know what's going to happen next full moon? Yes, I do, and I think, somehow, that they do too. but he'll become a wolfman. Yes. And she'll become a wolfwoman. all right, but what kind of relationship can people have one week in four? Maybe as good a chance of happiness as most people get. Life isn't perfect, One-Man-Bucket.

In "The Painted Bird" (Jerzy Kosinski, 1966:43): "It was said that Ludmilla lived with this huge dog as with a man. Others said that someday she would give birth to children whose bodies would be covered with canine hair and who would have lupine ears and four paws, and that these monsters would live somewhere in the forest." Quoted by by David K. Danow in "The Spirit of Carnival: Magical Realism and the Grotesque." (2004) found on Google Books. Like TP he seems to spell Ludmilla with two "l"s, whereas in "The Painted Bird" it is spelled Ludmila. If the reference to Ludmila is more than a coincidence, then it looks like a rescue job. The story in "The Painted Bird" is pretty harsh.

(Corgi PB, p267) "On a lid like a satin cushion it had a picture of a couple of hopelessly cross-eyed kittens looking out of a boot".


Death, selecting a box of chocolates, is evoking the Whizzo Quality Assortment sketch from "Monty Python's Flying Circus", in which a diligent trading standards officer discovers ever-more improbably disgusting and unlikely flavours in Whizzo chocolates. It's even called the Supreme Assortment...


Reverse Annotation

Where a Gothic rock band, whose works are alluded to in the Discworld cycle, and with whom Death has a close connection, may have repeated the favour by incorporating visual images from Reaper Man onto their LP sleeve artwork:- see here