Study Guide

The Bourne Identity Allusions

By Robert Ludlum


Literary and Philosophical References

  • Cain, mark of, or stigma of—The name "Cain" is mentioned throughout the text, but this is the most explicit reference to the Biblical Cain and Genesis 4:15. See also "Cain" under "Symbols and Imagery."(17.236)
  • Ian Fleming—The British author of the James Bond spy novels (13.45)
  • Goya's Maja—A famous nude painting from around 1800 by Spanish painter Francisco Goya (33.4)
  • The Frog Prince—A fairy tale in which a princess kisses a frog and turns him into a prince (23.95)
  • William Shakespeare, Hamlet—The English poet mentioned is Shakespeare, the quotation paraphrased is "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," from Hamlet, (I.V.296-297) (14.222)
  • Adam Smith—An 18th century Scottish economist; author of The Wealth of Nations; often considered the founder of the theory of free-market capitalism (13.45)

Historical References

  • Algeria, French—France controlled Algeria as a colony beginning in 1830. Algeria fought a war for independence beginning in 1954. France conceded and ended its colonial involvement in the country in 1962, 18 years before The Bourne Identity was published (24.1)
  • Associated Press—The Associated Press is a wire service that provides news stories to other media outlets (Preface.8)
  • Baader-Meinhof Gang—A violent left-wing militant group in post-World War II Germany; it was responsible for numerous deaths (13.44) (13.84) (25.15)
  • Brutus—A friend and ally of Julius Caesar who betrayed him (25.73)
  • Carlos the Jackal—Carlos the Jackal is an international terrorist, who is serving life in prison for the murders reported in the fake New York Times article (Preface.4). Though Carlos is real, and serves as the main antagonist of the book, his character in The Bourne Identity has little to do with that of the real assassin—see Carlos under "Characters" (first mention, Preface.2)
  • Christiaan Barnard—A South African cardiac surgeon who performed the first successful heart transplant (2.63)
  • Captain William Bligh—A British Royal naval officer whose cruelty and dictatorial command style provoked a famous mutiny on the ship HMS Bounty in 1789 (2.66)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte—A French military and political leader, Emperor of France from 1804 to 1815 (10.27)
  • Borgias—A prominent political family in Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries (5.51)
  • Julius Caesar—An ancient Roman general and emperor (5.52) (7.60) (25.73) (25.84)
  • Charlemagne—King of the Franks and Holy Roman Emperor in the 700s and 800s C.E. (24.3)
  • Dachau—An infamous Nazi concentration camp (15.35)
  • Michael DeBakey—An American cardiac surgeon and inventor whose innovations made open-heart surgery possible (2.63)
  • De Beers—A family of companies that dominates the diamond trade (15.223)
  • Dien Bien Phu—A 1954 battle between the French and North Vietnamese forces. North Vietnam won, and the French left Vietnam, which had till then been ruled by them as a colony (16.120)
  • Charles de Gaulle—French general and war hero who served as President of France from 1959 to 1969 (24.1)
  • General Motors—A multinational automotive corporation (13.50)
  • Givenchy—A famous fashion house (13.197)
  • Golden Triangle—A region in Southeast Asia known for opium production (16.120)
  • Che Guevara—An Argentinian Marxist revolutionary who played a key role in the Cuban revolution (13.47)
  • Dwight Eisenhower—President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 (34.215)
  • House of Dior—A famous fashion house (13.197)
  • John F. Kennedy—President of the United States who was assassinated in Dallas in 1963 (13.51)
  • Ayatollah Khomeini—The leader of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and later of Iran itself; The Bourne Identity was written right around the time of the Iranian Revolution, so Khomeini would have been in the news (13.99)
  • Louvre—A famous art museum in Paris (first mention 30.64)
  • Douglas MacArthur—A famous American general during World War II and the Korean War (24.3)
  • Maginot Line—A series of fortifications along France's border with Germany in the 1930s that were supposed to discourage invasion—they didn't work, as Germany invaded France during World War II (25.49)
  • New York Times (Preface.1)
  • Lee Harvey Oswald—The assassin who killed John F. Kennedy; he was assassinated himself shortly thereafter (13.55)
  • OAS (Organisation de l'armée secrete)—A dissident French paramilitary organization which fought to prevent Algerian independence form France during the Algerian War (1954-62)
  • OPEC—The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (10.186)
  • PLO—The Palestine Liberation Organization. An organization dedicated to an independent Palestinian state; it was considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and Israel at the time the Bourne Identity was written (10.186)
  • Versailles, court of—A reference to the rule of Louis XIV, King of France in the 1600s. Court life at his palace at Versailles was famously lavish and elaborate (13.177)
  • Punic Wars—A series of wars between ancient Rome and Carthage (5.52) (7.60)
  • Raoul Albin Louis Salan—A French general during the Algerian War. He opposed Charles de Gaulle's peace discussions with Algeria, Salan was involved in a failed military coup against the French civilian government (24.5)
  • Girolamo Savonarola—An Italian Renaissance Dominican friar known for his denunciations of corruption and exploitation (16.120)
  • U-2 Incident—In 1960, a U.S. U-2 spy plane was shot down over Russia and the pilot captured; the incident caused much embarrassment to the U.S. and President Eisenhower (34.215)
  • Warren Commission Report—The official report into President Kennedy's assassination, which concluded Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone (13.51)