An Annotation of Literary, Historic, and Artistic References
in Alan Moore's Graphic Novel, V For Vendetta.
Madelyn Boudreaux,
April 27, 1994

Last Revised: August 13, 2004
Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Book 1
  • Book 2
  • Book 3 <- You are here
  • Sources and Credits
  • Quotes and fan mail
  • Part 4 of 5

    Copyright 1994-present, Madelyn Boudreaux.

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    182, 3, 1 1812 Overture

    This piece of music, written in1880 by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky, was commissioned for the consecration of the Moscow Cathedral of Christ. The cathedral was built in thanksgiving for Napoleon's defeat in 1812. The work incorporated an old Russian hymn, and included both the French national anthem, the "Marseillaise," to represent Napoleon's invasion, and "God Save the Czar" to symbolize Russia's victory. Moore probably chose this work both for its "revolutionary" sound, and for its unusual motif: the original orchestration included battlefield guns which the conductor set off with electrical switches (Adventures in Light Classical Music 34), an action which V imitates with his bombs.

    188, 2, 3 Bollocks

    This is ribald slang for testicles; it derives from "ballocks," and was standard english until 1840, when it became vulgar (Partridge, Unconventional, 29).

    195, 3, 1 Ordnung

    This is German for a state of order and arrangement (Betteridge 452).

    195, 3, 2 Verwirrung

    This is the German noun for a state of confusion, entanglement, and confusion (Betteridge 686).

    196, 1, 1 Turning and turning in the widening gyre the falcon cannot hear the falconer. Things fall apart... the centre cannot hold. -- Yeats

    These words are from William Butler Yeats' poem "The Second Coming," which tells of an Christ/anti-Christ figure being borne of humanity's chaotic history (Donoghue 95-96). It illustrates V's vision of a chaotic world, but V believes that out of the chaos will come order. This is also foreshadowing, for V is the book's Christ figure and Evey is it's second coming.

    201, -, - Still all in love and war is fair, they say, this being both and turn-about's fair play. Though I must bear a cuckold's horns, they're not a crown that I shall bear alone. You see, my rival, though inclined to roam, possessed at home a wife that he adored. He'll rue his promiscuity, the rogue who stole my only love, when he's informed how many years it is since first I bedded his.

    V often speaks, as he does here, in iambic pentameter, which is a rhythmic scheme. Each line consists of five metrical "feet," each of which contains two syllables, one short (unstressed) and one long (stressed), (Encyclopedia Americana 688). By speaking in Jacobean stage's characteristic blank verse, V's pay homage. Scholz points out further that a common Jacobean dramatic for was the revenge play, which V imitates in deadly fashion throughout the book (Scholz 60).

    208, -, - Dominoes fall (image)

    The dominoes, which V has been setting up from the beginning of the book, fall. In Harlan Ellison's short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' said the Ticktockman" the Harlequin's first act of terrorism is described as follows: "He had tapped the first domino in the line, and one after another, like chik chik chik, the others had fallen."

    "'Repent, Harlequin!' said the Ticktockman" posits a ridiculous distopia where time is both the means and the end for fascism; in it, tardiness is eradicated by the constant exacting of biblical vengeance: if an individual is ten minutes late, ten minutes are taken off the end of his or her life. In this world, the Harlequin, *masked in a clown costume*, manages to disturb time by dumping $150,000 dollars worth of jellybeans on a crowd of commuters waiting on a moving sidewalk. The jellybeans, which are a mystery since they haven't been manufactured in over a hundred years (like V's fireworks and the chiming of Big Ben on page 257 of V for Vendetta), literally gum up the works of the sidewalk and throw the entire system of the world off by seven minutes. This act makes the Harlequin a terrorist against the state, and the Master Timekeeper (the Ticktockman of the title) must discover the identity of such a trouble-maker before the system is utterly destroyed.

    Many of the V's tricks are reminiscent of the Harlequin: both use fireworks to communicate with the masses, and both appear atop buildings to taunt the masses with singing. The Ticktockman is aware, as Finch is of V, that the Harlequin's identity is less important than the understanding of *what* he is. Both the Harlequin and V represent ideas fundamentally opposed to those upon which their worlds rely, and both, though destroyed, plant seeds that have the power to demolish the worlds that broke them. Both are celebrities of a sort, and both are enemies of the state because they want to be reformers of it (reference to Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience.")

    210, 2, 1 Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

    Also known as LSD or LSD-25, this drug is considered to be a psychotomimetic, in that it induces an imitation of a state of psychosis. It was first isolated in Basle, Switzerland in 1938 by Albert Hoffman, who created it by synthesized it from ergot, a rye grain fungus (Stevens 3-4).

    211, 1, 1 Four tablets

    Hoffman was also the first person to experiment with LSD-25. In his first experiment, he used 250 millionths of a gram, or 250 milligrams (Stevens 4). He experienced a violent "trip" and subsequent doses were lowered to about two-thirds of that amount (Stevens 10). Thus, Finch's four tablets, each packing 200 milligrams, was between four and eight times too much!

    214, 3, 1 nomini patri, et filii, et spiritus sancti...

    Latin, from the Christian mass: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

    216, 2, - ...La voie, la verite, la vie.

    These are French for the road (or way), the truth, and the life.

    216, 3, 3 Stonehenge

    One of the largest and most complete of the standing-stone monuments in Britain. It's origin's and purpose are unknown, but it is believed to have been a kind of astrological observation site and/or a place for religious ceremonies ( )

    217, 1, 3- "Everytime we say goodbye...I die a little. Everytime we say goodbye, I wonder why a little. Do the gods above me, who must be in the know think so little of me they'd allow you to go?"

    The quote is from a Cole Porter song entitled "Ev'ry time we say goodbye," from Porter's revue Seven Lively Arts, from 1944. Porter (1891-1964) was an American songwriter who wrote symphonic jazz works and musicals. He is best remembered for his adaption of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, as the musical Kiss me, Kate (Lax and Smith 611; Havelice 200).

    217, 2, 2 "Do as thou wilt... that shall be the whole of the law."

    This is Aleister Crowley's "Law of Thelema," from his 1904 publication The Book of the Law. Crowley was a controversial and misunderstood magician and occultist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He claimed that this book was dictated to him by his guardian spirit, a "devil-god" incarnation of the Egyptian god Set, whom Crowley called Aiwas. Although some interpret the law as allowing pure anarchy, it may actually mean that "one must do what one must and nothing else," (Guiley 76).

    218, 1, 1 Alice in Wonderland

    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carrol, was a children's story in which a young girl named Alice enters a world she can never quite understand. This was both a children's adventure story and a satirical work (Encyclopedia Americana 577).

    221, 1, 1 Ray Bradbury story about corn

    I was unable to determine the title of this story.

    223, 2, 1 I'm waiting for the man.

    This is a quote from the Velvet Underground song "Heroin," which is about a addict waiting for his "connection" who is bringing him more of his drug.

    Addendum - reader Daisy Graham noted: [I]t's not from "Heroin" it's from the song by the same title. (Graham, personal email, March 14, 2003)

    Addendum - reader Andrew Boissonneau noted: Actually the title of the Velvet Underground song in which this line appears is "Waiting for the Man" sometimes listed as "I'm waiting for the Man." Heroine is a different (and much odder) track off the same album. (Boissonneau, personal email, March 15, 2003)

    223, 3, 3 Farewell, My Lovely poster

    This was a 1945 film made for RKO. It was one of the first *film noir* movies, a style characterized by the violence and depravity of its seedy characters, its confusing plots, and its dark and high-contrast photography. This film was adapted from a Raymond Chandler novel, and dealt with a private eye's search for an ex-convict's missing girl-friend (Halliwell 314).

    228, 2, 2 Eva Peron... Evita Don't Cry for Me, Argentina

    Eva Peron was the wife of Argentina's president, Juan Peron. From 1946 to 1952, Eva Peron, also known as Evita, controlled the labor unions, and purged them of their leaders, thus making them entirely dependent on the government. She also suppressed groups that insulted her. She was well-loved by much of Argentina, however (Alexander) Eva Peron inspired a musical, Evita, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, and shown first in London in 1978.

    230, 1, 1 ...valderee, valdera...

    I was unable to determine the meanings or languages of these words.

    Addendum - As many readers have noted, this is "The Happy Wanderer."

    Addendum - reader Philip Eagle noted: "Valderee, valdera" - from the chorus of the folk song "The Happy Wanderer", associated with the Socut Movement in the UK. For complete lyric, see (Eagle, personal email, April 9, 2003)

    230, 1, 1 ...and did those feet in ancient times...

    The first lines from the afore-mentioned poem by William Blake.

    233, 2, - how can you tell me you're lonely...and say for you that the sun don't shine? Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, I'll show you something to make you change your mind... (song)

    This may be a real song; however, I have been unable to determine its origin or any other information about it.

    Addendum - at some point, I came across this song on my own, and several readers have sent me various versions of it. It is, of course, "Streets of London," and has been covered and performed by many artists.

    Addendum - reader Andrew Boissonneau noted: The song is the "Streets of London" by the Beatles. (Boissonneau, personal email, March 15, 2003)

    Addendum - reader Philip Eagle noted: From the song "Streets of London" by the English folksinger Ralph McTell. For the full lyrics, see (Eagle, personal email, April 9, 2003)

    245, 3, 1 a viking funeral

    Vikings "buried" some of their dead by laying the corpse out in a ship and setting it ablaze, then pushing it out to sea.

    245, 3, 1 Ave atque vale

    Latin for "Hail and Farewell," (Simpson 63, 70, 629)

    255, 2, 2 Les Miserables (poster)

    This poster was from Les Miserables, a modern operatic piece by Claude-Michel Schonberg, based on a novel by Victor Hugo and first performed in London in 1980. It is about a former petty criminal who, upon being released from jail, becomes a revolutionary leader (Behr 391).

    258, 2, 2 ...reports of my death were exaggerated...

    This quote is from a telegram sent from London to the Associated Press by Mark Twain in 1897 (Bartletts 625).

    264, 2, 2 Gissa shag, ay?

    The tramps are soliciting sex from Helen. Shag is 19th-20th century slang for intercourse with a woman. The word possibly came from meaning "to shake or toss around," hence, a term for masturbation. (Partridge, Unconventional, 748).

    Introduction | Book 1 | Book 2 | Book 3 | Sources and Credits | Quotes and Fan mail