Special Sub-Topic: Literary Allusions in Christie Books
|"Mrs. McGinty's Dead": Mrs. Oliver drives past Poirot in her car and carelessly tosses an apple core out of the window, hitting Poirot in the face. She later refers to that incident by alluding to which legendary Swiss hero?|
William Tell. William (Wilhelm in German) Tell is known for shooting an apple off his son's head. Mrs. Oliver, in her usual fussy way, explains that she met Poirot on the road, or rather, hit him with an apple core - "Like William Tell, but the other way round".
Albrecht Gessler was the tyrannical reeve who, according to legend, was killed by Wilhelm Tell; Arnold Winkelried is another key figure in Swiss lore, and Henri Dunant is the founder of the Red Cross.
|"The mirror crack'd from side to side/The curse is come upon me, cried..." who?|
The Lady of Shalott. Featured prominently in the book of the same name (that is, "The Mirror Crack'd From Side to Side", or "Mirror Crack'd" for short), this is the quote that Miss Marple's friend Dolly Bantry uses to describe the expression on movie star Marina Gregg's face shortly before an unexpected death occurs at her party.
The book also closes with the last lines of this poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
|"Curtain: Poirot's Last Case" features a murder who never harms a hair on anyone's head, but coaxes others into doing so. To which Shakespeare character does Poirot compare him?|
Iago. Poirot's last case is also his greatest challenge as he and Hastings take up the hunt for a murderer with extraordinary powers of persuasion.
|In which novel does a performance of John Webster's "The Duchess of Malfi" trigger a gruesome childhood memory in one of the main characters, leading to the solution of an undiscovered murder from twenty years ago?|
"Sleeping Murder". "Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle; she died young." These are the lines that make Gwenda Reed remember that as a young child she must have been witness to a murder, with the murderer quoting these exact lines. She eventually finds out, helped by Miss Marple.
|Which of the following titles is not based on Shakespeare?|
"Endless Night". "Endless Night" is based on the famous poem "Auguries of Innocence" by William Blake:
Every night and every morn,
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night,
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
The other three titles are all direct quotes from Shakespeare plays: "Macbeth" ("By the pricking of my thumbs/Something wicked this way comes"); "Julius Caesar" ("There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune..."), and "Twelfth Night" ("Come away, come away, death, and in sad cypress let me be laid...").
|Shakespeare again: The discovery of which murder prompts one of the characters to quote Lady Macbeth's line, "Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him"?|
Simeon Lee ("Hercule Poirot's Christmas"). Lydia Lee instinctively said the right thing, as it turns out that it wasn't actually the old man's blood that was spattered all over the room.
|"Sparkling Cyanide", or "Remembered Death" begins with the following quote: "What can I do to drive away remembrance from mine eyes?" Who is being quoted?|
John Keats. These are the opening lines from "To _. (What can I do to drive away)" by John Keats.
The second part of the book suitably opens with Ophelia's famous "rosemary for remembrance" line.
|Which book title is a direct reference to the Bible?|
"The Pale Horse". Revelation 6:8 "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him...."
"The Moving Finger" is from verse 51 of Edward FitzGerald's translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: "The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, moves on...", which is, in turn, a reference to the Bible; more precisely, Belshazzar's feast as related in the Book of Daniel, which is the source of the common phrase "the writing on the wall". That is why I put "direct reference" in the question.
|"Postern of Fate" takes its title from a line from a poem by James Elroy Flecker. That poems describes the four gates of which place?|
Damascus. "Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster's Cavern, Fort of Fear,
The Portal of Baghdad am I, and Doorway of Diarbekir.
Pass not beneath, O Caravan, or pass not singing. Have you heard
That silence where the birds are dead yet something pipeth like a bird?"
The poem is called "The Gates of Damascus".
|Let's end on a lighter note: From which collection of stories comes the nickname of Arthur Hastings's wife?|
Grimm's Fairy Tales. "Cinderella" is probably one of the best-known fairy tales in the Grimm collection.
Nursery rhymes also feature frequently in Christie literature - just think of "Three Blind Mice", "Five Little Pigs", "A Pocket Full of Rye" or "Hickory Dickory Dock".
Greek mythology becomes evident in the first names of Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver and is the common theme in the short story collection "The Labours of Hercules".
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