You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


2. Among the ancient Turks, male animals were regarded as the most acceptable form of sacrifice.

5. Kumis is fermented mare's milk. Marco Polo says of the Tartars..."Their drink is mare's milk, prepared in such a way that you would take it for white wine; and a right good drink it is, called by them Kemiz."

15. Neyrek's escape from Bayburt is narrated in the next story, in which the infidel king who imprisoned him is not named but must have been Parasar.

27. It was an ancient Turkish belief that the best horses were those sired by a supernatural stallion which came forth from a mountain, lake, or sea.

43. Red is still the colour of the bride's veil at village weddings in Turkey, though urban girls nowadays prefer white.

57. Among the Kirghiz it is still the practice to make ninefold gifts, and the animals given as bride-price -- camels, horses, or whatever -- are still given in multiples of nine, up to a lavish nine times nine.

63 This does not mean that the enemy will not seek vengeance, but that they are outside the community within which blood money, rather than blood, can be exacted.

71. The sense must be that weeping was far from him but suddenly found him.

74. Azrael is the name Muslims give to the Angel of Death.

78. A fine earthy vignette: the lice were dislodged because the old man was quaking with fear.

91. The Vatican MS reads "I saw a man with six heads."

99. To the Turkish ear, the name of Goggle-eye's lair suggests "slaughterhouse."

131. Perversity seems to be a characteristic of the people of this infidel city, including the young women in the mysterious penultimate line of the passage...

144. The meaning is that the prince should not allow anyone who is not an accredited bard to perform for him, the next sentence being a thinly veiled threat of supernatural retribution if he does so.

159. Noah, like many other Biblical characters, appears in the Koran as a prophet. According to Islamic legend, the ant was the first creature to enter the Ark, the donkey being the last because Ibis was holding its tail. Noah became impatient and cried out, "Come on, even if the Devil is with you!" whereupon the donkey and the Devil came on board together.

Selected from the endnotes to
The Book Of Dede Korkut
Translated with an Introduction and Notes by Geoffrey Lewis
Penguin Edition

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