Chapter 7

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Please keep these annotations SPOILER-FREE by not revealing information from later pages in the novel.
492-page edition / 547-page edition

156/158 - entrenchat deux
Classical ballet term for a jump in which the individual switches the legs alternately forward and backward very quickly. I think the deux implies 2 switches, or 4 kicks altogether. Prissy, energetic jump.

156/158 - Captain Hugh, F.R.G.S
Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

157/166 - . . .author of The Renaissance
Walter Pater. Young Godolphin (Godot + Dolphin?) is among a literary elite, clearly evinced by his love of obscure in-jokes.

159/168 - Mazzini
19th century politician & Italian nationalist who was instrumental in the creation of modern Italy from divided monarchies & states.

159/168 - Signor Mantissa

Mantissa = Latin: "makeweight": something thrown onto a scale to bring the weight to a desired value; In mathematics: the decimal part of a logarithm; Wikipedia

Machiavelli by Santi di Tito
160/170 - Like Machiavelli he was in exile

In a famous letter to his friend Francesco Vettori, Machiavelli described how he spent his days in exile:

When evening comes, I return home [from work and from the local tavern] and go to my study. On the threshold I strip naked, taking off my muddy, sweaty workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world.
From Pynchon's short story Entropy:
His had always been a vigorous, Italian sort of pessimism: like Machiavelli, he allowed the forces of virtù and fortuna to be about 50/50; but the equations now introduced a random factor which pushed the odds to some unutterable and indeterminate ratio which he found himself afraid to calculate. [1]
164/174 - "Capo di minghe!"

"Minghe" stands for "minchia" (a very common expression, like the American "shit" — and quite vulgar). "Minghe" is how "minchia" is spelled (pronounced) by southern Italians. "Minchia" means "dick", so "minghe morte" means "your dick is dead" (i.e, "impotent"), and "capo di minghe" means "dickhead", "dick-headed" &c. "Minghe" by itself would be like saying "shit" or any sort of profane exclamation."

From Pynchon's short story Entropy [2]:

"Minghe morte," said Duke. "I figured we were playing it a little slow," Krinkles said.

Also, Mingeborough is where the kids live in Pynchon's short story The Secret Integration.

164/175 - Birth of Venus

The Botticelli referenced earlier, famously depicting the goddess Venus arising in full womanhood from the sea.

166/177 - the Fashoda crisis
See Ch.3 - Fashoda

167/178 - Mahdists
Islamic followers of Muhammed Ahmad, or "Al-Mahdi", a late 19th century religious & theocratic leader in Sudan. Ahmad organized local tribes in an attempt to create an Islamic state in Sudan, & eventually the world. The British organized an opposition & eventually crushed the movement at the battle of Omdurman in 1898.

171/183 - "General Gordon"
Charles George Gordan, veteran of British campaigns in China and Africa, and governor general of Sudan from 1874 to his death in 1885 at the hands of Mahdist insurrectionists.

191/205 - a loud morra game

From Pynchon's short story Entropy [3]:

"There was a two-handed, bilingual morra game on over by the icebox. Saul had filled several paper bags with water and was sitting on the fire escape, dropping them on passersby in the street. A fat government girl in a Bennington sweatshirt, recently engaged to an ensign attached to the Forrestal, came charging into the kitchen, head lowered, and butted Slab in the stomach. Figuring this was as good an excuse for a fight as any, Slab's buddies piled in. The morra players were nose-to-nose, screaming trois, sette at the top of their lungs."

From Wikipedia:

While there are many variations, most forms of morra can be played with two, three or more players. In the most popular version of Morra both players throw out a single hand each showing one or two fingers, and call out loud their guess at what the sum of all fingers shown will be. If one player guesses the sum, that play earns one point. The first player to reach three points wins the game.


  1. Pynchon, Thomas, Slow Learner, Jonathan Cape, 1985, pp. 87-88
  2. Ibid., p. 96
  3. ibid, p. 96

Chapter 1
In which Benny Profane, a schlemihl and human yo-yo, gets to an apocheir
Chapter 2
The Whole Sick Crew
Chapter 3
In which Stencil, a quick-change artist, does eight impersonations
Chapter 4
In which Esther gets a nose job
Chapter 5
In which Stencil nearly goes West with an alligator
Chapter 6
In which Profane returns to street level
Chapter 7
She hangs on the western wall
Chapter 8
In which Rachel gets her yo-yo back, Roony sings a song, and Stencil calls on Bloody Chiclitz
Chapter 9
Mondaugen's story
Chapter 10
In which various sets of young people get together
Chapter 11
Confessions of Fausto Maijstral
Chapter 12
In which things are not so amusing
Chapter 13
In which the yo-yo string is revealed as a state of mind
Chapter 14
V. in love
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Epilogue, 1919
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