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Cannery Row

Cannery Row

by John Steinbeck

Analysis: Allusions

When authors refer to other great works, people, and events, it’s usually not accidental. Put on your super-sleuth hat and figure out why.

Literary and Philosophical References

  • Greek mythology: The Graces (2.1)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (12.1)
  • Josh Billings (12.1-12.22), a 19th Century humorist
  • Bel Geddes (20.42), A set and industrial designer active in the 1930s and 40s
  • Petrarch (21.12)
  • Bilhana Kavi (translated by E. Powys Mathers), Black Marigolds (30.16-30.23, 32.6-32.10), a fifty-stanza love poem written in the 11th Century

Religious References

  • Bible, The Book of John (2.1)
  • Lao Tze (2.1). His name is also transliterated as Lao Tzu and Laozi. He's the philosophical father of Taoism.
  • The Virtues (2.1, 27.1). In Catholicism there are seven virtues; according to the ancient Greeks, there were four.
  • Bible, The Beatitudes (2.1, 27.1). The Beatitudes are certain teachings of Jesus that appear in the Gospels.
  • The Lord's Prayer (2.2)
  • Saint George (28.2)
  • Saint Francis (11.18), (25.5)

Musical References

You'll notice that all of these references involve Doc.

  • Monteverdi, Hor ch' el Ciel e la Terra (21.12)
  • Scarlatti (23.10)
  • Beethoven, The Great Fugue (29.2), Moonlight Sonata (29.43)
  • Ravel, Pavane to a Dead Princess (29.41), Daphnis and Chloe (29.41)
  • Bach, Brandenburg Concerto (29.42)
  • Debussy, Clair de Lune (29.42), The Maiden with Flaxen Hair (29.42)

Historical References

  • The Tong Wars (1.3). Wars among rival Chinese gangs in San Francisco in the 1920s.
  • The Battle of Marathon (29.41)
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